Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
The above statement says it all. Why do we worry so much and does it really help? I used to work for the Probation Service in Surrey and one of the questions that we asked each new case was whether they worried a lot. About 99% of the respondents answered “yes” to this question. Worrying has become the norm, a part of every day life.
We think around 80 000 thoughts per day and 80% of those are nonsense thoughts. This means they don’t lead to an action or help us in any way. They are brain activity for the sake of it. For example: I wonder why that person looked at me that way? Maybe they don’t like me?
We can start off with a relatively neutral thought which can quickly spiral into a full blown worry session where we get really worked up. We all have the ability to think ourselves into all sorts of scenarios. Situations that are often not what is really happening in reality.
Here are tips on how to control worrying:
1) Keep perspective. Will this be such an issue one week from now, a month?
2) Is your worry resolution focused? Are you trying to find a solution and being productive in your thinking or are you just going round and round with no clear aim? If you aren’t thinking with a solution in mind try to distract yourself.
3) If you find you are a chronic worrier, allocate ‘worry time’ per day. Give yourself half an hour twice a day to sit and think and plan. Outside of those allocated times, force yourself to DO rather than think.
4) Practise mindfulness. Be in the moment more instead of worrying about the past or what might happen in the future. “What if” thinking can be a form of torture when you worry and there is no way to predict the future, so cut it out!
5) Separate thoughts from reality. Thoughts are your perceptions of reality, not exact reality. Realise that you might have it wrong, don’t make assumptions and don’t take things personally.
6) Is whatever you are worrying about something that you can control? If you can control it then be resolution focused (see point 2). If you can’t control the outcome or influence the situation in any way, distract yourself. Learning the difference between what you can and can’t control in life can ease a lot of anxiety. Be matter of fact. Take emotion out of the equation and move on.
Worrying is mostly a waste of time. Unless your thinking is helpful and productive, learn to shelve it or distract yourself. Become a better thought manager and encourage inner calm.