Some people are worriers by nature, but few of us avoid unnecessary worry altogether. At some point we all experience excessive worry. Our stomachs churn, our hearts race. We’re stressed, restless, can’t concentrate.
If you’re a worrier, there are things you can do to mitigate your distress. Here are some suggestions:
- Take action right away. If you’re lying in bed worrying about paying your Visa bill, stop obsessing. Get up. Go online and pay it if you can, or take the first step toward settling the situation. Just one step toward a resolution will give you peace of mind. But you have to take the first step.
- Don’t try to make yourself sleep. You’re playing and replaying your issue in your head—a continuous loop of fretting. You try to change the subject in your mind, and before you know it, the tape is playing again. Now you try to force yourself to sleep, because time has passed, it’s getting late, and you have to get up early tomorrow. Break this toxic cycle by getting out of bed and doing something else. When you’re tired and ready, go back to bed.
- Imagine the worst-case scenario. Really. If you forgot your speech and became tongue-tied, what is the worst thing that could happen? You’d feel foolish for a minute, then you’d look at your notes, recover with grace and go on. So find your 3 x 5 cards, write some prompts and practice until you know it cold. Worry can help you by being a catalyst for preparation.
- Surrender to the fear. Sometimes you push so hard against something that worries you that you create more stress than necessary. Admit that you might not get into that program, or win that prize, or whatever it is you want. Surrender to the idea that whatever is worrying you will come to pass. But it won’t be the end of the world. Your life will go on. You will find a way to go with the flow.
- Let go of the irrational. You know you checked the stove three times before you left the house. It is not on. The house will not burn down. Get a grip, because your rational self knows better. You have never, ever, left the house with the stove on.
- Focus on taking care of yourself physically. Curb your intake of alcohol and caffeine that trigger your anxiety. Get plenty of sleep and don’t skimp on your exercise. Eat healthy foods. When you’re feeling particularly stressed, focus on your breathing until you feel calm.
- Know that this too shall pass. Think about situations that worried you in the past. You got through them. They probably weren’t as bad as you thought they’d be. Remember that the issue that looms so large now will soon be a problem from the past.
Whatever your worries, you don’t want them to stop you from living your life as you would like. When you take steps to cope with your problems, you realize, in time, that you can mitigate the effects of your worrying. And continue on with a happy, fulfilling life.