Are you a worrier? Do you find you worry a lot, possibly more than you think you should? Would you describe yourself as a worrier? Does worrying interfere with your life?
We all worry to some extent and sometimes worrying can be a good thing because it can help keep us motivated to do the things we need to do, but sometimes our worries can interfere with our everyday lives. They can preoccupy our minds with problems and “what if” scenarios, which in turn can send your anxiety levels through the roof and be draining on your emotional energy.
If you are finding worrying is interfering with your life, here’s a tip or two that can help.
Challenge Anxious or Worrying Thoughts
One good way of dealing with anxious or worrying thoughts is to challenge them. First identify the thought, break it down (if it helps) to pin point exactly what it is. Then, in whatever way you can do this for yourself, treat the thought as a hypothesis; something which needs to be tested rather than treated as fact. To get you started, if its appropriate you could ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the thought useful or helpful to me? How will worrying about it, help me?
- If a friend had this worry, what would I say to them?
- What, if any, evidence is there that it’s true?
- If there was a more positive way of looking at the thought or problem, what would it be?
- Is the worry worth the time I’m spending worrying about it, what else could I be doing instead?
- Am I taking responsibility for something which is or was, out of my control?
The more you start to challenge your anxious or worrying thoughts, you may find the better you get at it and be pleasantly surprised how quickly you start to have a more balanced perspective.
Allocate a Worry Period
If you are a worrier, people may of told you, or you have told yourself not to think about it. However that’s easier said than done. If I say to you “don’t think of a blue tree” – the first thing that may come into your head is a blue tree. The same principle applies here too. By telling yourself not to think about worrying or feeling anxious, you are thinking about it and you may find it keeps coming back into your mind and the harder you try not to think about it the more you think of it and so on. Vicious circle comes to mind!
One way of dealing with worrying is to allocate a worry period; a time during the day when you can set aside 10 or 20 minutes for you to go over the worries from the day. Ideally, it should be a good few hours before you go to bed so giving you enough time for whatever you were worrying about to not affect you before you go to bed.
So during the day if any worries come into your mind that you haven’t been able to get rid of by challenging them, tell yourself in whatever way works for you, that you will deal with it during the worry period. That way, you are not ignoring it but postponing it which will allow you to get on with the rest of your day.
Then when your worry period arrives, go over your worries from the day if you think or feel they are still worth worrying about. You may decide some or all are not important enough now to warrant worrying about.
How the worry period works is, it breaks the habit of dwelling on your worries and it also interrupts that vicious circle of trying not to think of the worry which in turn can make you think of the worry but at the same time still honoring the worry.
Is the Problem Solvable?
If a worry keeps coming to mind, a good way to help deal with the worry is to determine if the problem is solvable or not and you can do this at the time or during the worry period.
You can do this by asking yourself if your worry is something you are facing or if it’s more of a ‘what if’ scenario. By doing this you are distinguishing if the problem has a solution or not.
To help distinguish between the two, because lets face it sometimes things are easier said than done, you could ask yourself; is there any course of action I can take to help find the solution to the problem? If there is then that problem is more solvable than not.
A good way to help you resolve a solvable problem, which in turn will help you to stop worrying about it, is to draw up a plan of action for that problem. You may want to make a list of all things you could do to help you find the solution or, if you prefer, skip the list and just start doing them; for example, if you are looking for a new job, make a list of all the things you need to do to help you find a new job and then start working through it or just start applying for new jobs. Either way, you’ve started doing something about the problem which in turn will help you feel less worried about it. There are many ways you can do this, so find what works for you.
If there is no course of action you can think of to help solve the problem then this is more of a ‘what if’ worry.
If you find yourself worrying about things that don’t have an obvious solvable solution to them, and they are ‘what if’ worries, you would not be alone. For example, what if I get cancer? What if I loose my job.
Many people find they worry about things that may not happen because they don’t like uncertainty about what could happen and worrying about it in a way makes it more controllable. When you are worrying about it, it gives you a sense of controlling it. So worrying in one way is an attempt to almost predict what the future has in store so you can be prepared for it and therefore control it. The bad news is, it doesn’t work.
Thinking about the worst case scenario won’t stop it from happening, all it does is keep you in a negative frame of mind and stops you from enjoying the good things in your life.
So moving forward, accept, in whatever way you can do that for yourself, there are things that are uncertain in life, we can’t control everything and possibly ask yourself why you don’t like uncertainty. Challenge that thought and see what comes to mind? If you find yourself in the future worrying about a ‘what if’ worry, consciously make an effort to think of something positive instead or change your thought to something you can control and make a plan of action for it, so you receive that sense of relief.
The Affect of Others….
Have you ever noticed how contagious moods are? If someone in the office is in a bad mood, have you noticed how that can affect everyone else?
Many studies have shown how we can catch emotions from the people around us, its called Emotional Contagion and numerous studies have shown the impact it can have on our relationships, all relationships from personal to professional.
A lot of people don’t realise how other peoples’ emotions can affect them and some studies suggest that negative emotions are more easy to catch than positive ones. So it’s something to look out for.
If you find you are a worrier, try not to spend too much time with other people who you know are also worriers or who you know will bring you down. That might be tricky depending on who they are, so maybe have a quick word with them about it, let them know how there mood can affect you and visa versa too.
Have a think about who you spend your time with, is there someone you know who makes you more anxious? Maybe think about spending less time with that person and more time with
someone who makes you feel more positive. Learn to know who to talk to about certain things because some people will fuel your worries and others will help you gain a valuable perspective.
Find what works for you…..
There are many ways we can all help ourselves to stop worrying and like most things, it’s about finding that balance and what works for you. You may find some or all of the these tips help but if you think or feel you need additional support, feel free to contact me so we can have a chat about how I can help you.