5 Ways to Overcome Worry
Worrying has an impact on you physically, emotionally and mentally. The stress it causes over prolonged periods of time could be enough to spark illness in the body or emotional imbalance. So what can you do to help overcome it?
1) Change your Perspective
One of the quickest ways to change your perspective is to imagine you are giving your best friend some advice and reassurance. what would you say to him or her? Taking an objective standpoint rather than a subjective one can provide really valuable insights into what you’re going through.
The second best strategy for reframing your worry is to “zoom out” on the situation. Close your eyes and imagine the stuff you are worrying about as if you’re looking at it through a film camera, and now with the skill of a cameraman, zoom out on the picture, higher and higher until it is a mere dot on a city, on a country, on a globe, suspended in space. Our problems are relatively tiny, but we allow them to consume us.
Thirdly, get some spiritual perspective. What if you couldn’t fail. What if every experience was a learning opportunity? What if “good” and “bad” experiences were just labelled as such. What if experiences were just experiences? What if you looked back at everything so far that has happened in your life and you could connect the dots and see how perfect the journey has been for you to become who you are today? Whatever the bigger picture of your existence is for you, draw on it for inspiration and an empowering context.
2) Connect with others
They say a problem shared is a problem halved. Worry has a tendency to make us retreat under the duvet where no one can find us and where we don’t have to face anything. But isolation feeds fear. Too much time alone analysing and playing out different worse case scenarios is a recipe for major stress, panic and anxiety. Get out there. Connect with people. Pick up the phone and tell someone what’s on your mind. Be part of a crowd. Remember that you belong to a community. Remind yourself that you are only alone if you choose to be.
3) Be in the present moment
Most of our worrying exists in the past or the future. The thoughts that go through are heads are either about things that have happened or things that might happen. If we bring all our attention to “right now this second”, we will notice that actually in this very moment there is nothing happening. We’re breathing, we’re sitting/standing/walking wherever we are. The stuff of our worries does not exist in the “right now”. And since we only ever have “right now” any other thoughts that we have must relate to concepts of time that in effect do not exist anywhere but in our imagination. When we arrive at a point in the future, we don’t say “the future has arrived and we’re in it”, we say “this is what is happening right now”.
4) Accept the way things are
Going back to the “right now” idea – things are the way the are…”right now” that is. But what’s to say that they have to continue being that way? If you can accept that the reality you are faced with in this moment (and only this moment, because before you know it you’ll be in the “right now” 10 minutes later), is what it is, suddenly your mental and emotional energy is freed up to think about how things could be. All your power over any situation only exists “right now”, so it stands to reason that if you’re in a calm state of acceptance, you can use “right now” to better the situation, take some actions, get the ball rolling again. Isn’t that preferable to being stuck in a perpetual limbo repeating worrying thoughts over and over?
5) Change your Posture, Breathing and State
Have you noticed that people who are sad slump their shoulders and tend to look downwards? Or people who are angry hunching their shoulders, tensing their whole bodies as if bracing themselves for an explosion. When we worry we also tend to brace ourselves, we shallow breathe or even hold our breath, we close down our bodies, fold our arms or hug ourselves for comfort.
People who are relaxed and happy on the other hand have very open body posture. Their shoulders are back and relaxed, their bodies move without resistance, their heads are up, they’re often found smiling (imagine that!).
Did you know that where emotions are concerned you can “fake it till you make it”, and quite successfully! Pushing your shoulders back, holding your head high, breathing deep and forcing a smile on your face in the midst of a worry attack, will after a minute or two actually start to change the way you feel for the better. Things won’t feel quite so bad. If you’re feeling up to it you could go a step further, stick on a loud playful happy tune and dance around like your life depends on it – but this does come with a warning: you might actually forget what you were worrying about