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Worry Less
(Created April 1, 2015)

"I will not should myself today!" 

Worrying is a common thought process that involves dwelling negatively on something that is bothering you. You typically worry about situations, people, or events that you feel you have little or no control. When you worry, you tend to think about all possible negative outcomes to a situation. Thus, you tend to think about it constantly. Constant worrying tends to raise your anxiety level while draining your energy.

During times of worry, it is important for you to stop, reflect, or be aware of "what" about the situation or person that triggered an emotional response. When reflecting, it helps to remember both the purpose and the uselessness or meaninglessness of worry. Your thinking, behavior, and feelings typically revolve in a vicious cycle. Worry (i.e., thinking) typically triggers anxiety. When you feel helpless (i.e., feelings) or out of control over a situation, your anxiety level increases, and you feel the need to release this tension in some way (i.e., behaviors --such as sleep, cry, finger play. foot tapping, or pacing).

When there is little or nothing you can do to change or control a situation, it causes you to worry.  It is important to note that worry provides you a sense of false comfort, or the  “something to do” in the meantime.  The worrying provides an outlet for your anxious energy and thus, creates a false sense of control. 

Believe it or not,  all that worrying you do, even for long periods of time and at a high intensity, never helps the situation.  Worrying drains you, both emotionally and physically. It can actually makes your situation worse because then you will have less energy to the situation. And thus, in the vicious cycle in thinking, behaving, and feeling--it causes your anxiety level to go up yet again, because you feel even more helpless.  Oftentimes, you think that you have little control over worrying. During these times, it is important to remember that, worry is only a thought, and you do have control over your thoughts.  Worrying is a learned behavior. Thus, you can also learn how to worry less.  With practice, you can learn to stop, eliminate, or change your thinking.

Possible Tools and Self Talk Exercises To Help Manage Worrying:
 

Let your worries go. Notice that when you don’t try to control your thoughts, they soon pass. It’s only when you engage your worries that you get stuck.

Stay focused on the present. Pay attention to the way your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, your ever-changing emotions, and the thoughts that drift across your mind. If you find yourself getting stuck on a particular thought, bring your attention back to the present moment.

Create a mantra.  A mantra, or incantation, is a simple phrase that you use to focus your thoughts and assist with reality testing.  Reality testing helps you to refocus, center, or become aware of our irrational thoughts, and ultimately helps to create do a "shift" with your thinking.   It may be helpful to repeat to yourself the three C's.  Cause, Control, Cure. Repeat to yourself:  "I didn't cause it, I can't cure it, and I can't control it."  This mantra helps you to learn to accept or tolerate uncertanity as life is constantly changes.  Life Happens.

Create Worry time. Identify something you have been worrying about lately. Set a timer for ten minutes, and during that time concentrate on worrying as hard as you can about this situation. Really put all of your energy into thinking the worst and wondering whether or not it will happen. Worry from as many perspectives as you can. When you are done, you simply put these worries in an imaginiary box and tighten the lid.  Closing the lid on the "worry box" allows you to give yourself permission to no longer, or refrain, from worrying about something that you are not able to solve at the present time. 

When you delay worrying, it helps to break the vicious cycle of dwelling on worries in the present moment.   As you begin to delay your worries you will start to realize that you have more control over your worrying than you think.

Replace Worry. Describe something you could do instead of worrying that would be more productive, help you to feel better, or help to create a positive outcome. Estimate how much energy this substitute activity would use compared to how much energy worrying uses. Remember, the practice of living in the moment, the here and now, or in the present, has been said to involve the cultivating everyday life magical moments. To live a simplified life you must let go of what holds you back or prevents you from living a full rich life. 

And Lastly,

Be Mindful of the Side Effects of Worry. Think about times that you have worried intensely. Describe what you can remember about specific effects of worry on your body and mind.

Ask yourself?

Did worrying increase or decrease your energy? 
Did worrying raise or lower your anxiety level? 
Did worrying benefit or harm your health?


 

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