Tips to Worry Less

Have you noticed that you are
worrying a little more lately?

Perhaps it is causing insomnia, tossing, and turning to calm the mind. Or are you noticing a few more emotions popping up?

There is a lot going on out there, with higher grocery prices, kids, and activities, work, relationships, the never-ending clutter in the house, environment concerns, politics, news coverage, adds up to a lot of weight in the mind right now. A certain amount of worry is normal and can be helpful to motivate you to get things done on time. The project at work that is demanding your attention, or the tax-filing deadline, getting the bills paid on time, or making sure there is a plan in place for retirement down the road. But too much worry builds up quickly and becomes unproductive and tends to take a negative toll on your mental and physical health and relationships.

We may feel like we have it under control, until we notice the worry is demanding more of our time and attention and spiraling. What may be a passing thought, blows up into an argument. Missing a reminder on your phone, turns into negative thoughts and self-blame. Being tired from lack of sleep due to the never-ending thoughts running in your head, turns into a downturn in motivation.

With some tips and mindfulness, you can conquer the worry habit. You can learn to calm and implement a few coping strategies to move the mind into a positive way to deal with it all.

” If the problem can be solved, why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good” Buddha quote

Five ways to manage a Worry Habit

1. Set a Timer

Choose a time and place where you can focus on worrying. Allow 20 or 30 minutes on a timer, not too close to bedtime, where you commit to
reviewing them.

2. Make a List

Jot down the pop-up worry items that you notice through the day. Write them down, then tell yourself this is for the worry appointment you have with yourself. Then allow yourself to maintain focus on the present moment and what you are working on. Returning your focus to the present moment without distractions, is more positive and productive.

Do not revisit the worry list through the day unless it is to add another item.

This could be helpful through the day with your partner, kids, other people in your life. Managing the distraction of their worry, requests, needs throughout the day by acknowledging it is there, adding it to the list, refocus on present moment tasks. This is mindfulness at work in your life.

It is easy for a small thing to quickly escalate into a mental mess that overrides your day. Example: forgetting to pick up oranges with the groceries can evolve into a worry about a lack of Vitamin C during the winter and now your kids will get sick, and everyone will end up with scurvy! Simply putting the reminder of the oranges on the list, let it go, move on, can reduce unnecessary escalation.

3. Address the Items on the list

It is common to feel concerned, emotional, and worry about things in your life. Research has shown that avoiding or using denial or distractions simply increase the weight of the problem.

Proactively making time to address concerns as they arise is effective time management.

When your worry time/appointment comes, review the list, and assign a priority to each item. Some of them may have lost their importance. Can some items be delegated? What is pressing and needs attention now? What is needing attention in the next day or two, or next week, or further out?

Can you include your partner in the decisions on priorities, delegation, keeping or removing the item off the list.

Having a plan to manage worry items keeps it within reasonable limits. With practice, you will develop discernment on what you choose to worry about, levels of importance, and the ability to release and reduce worry.

4. Focus on what matters most

Helpful vs. Unhelpful

Worries can be helpful in identifying constructive action needed.

Example, if you are worried about missing a payment, putting a reminder on your phone with an alarm when it’s due, takes up less space in your mind than reviewing in a never-ending loop.

Unhelpful worries are more external, broad range worries about things like “what if there is a recession?” Or worry about the weather, or “what if the government does…” are unhelpful because you really have no means of controlling them.

Assess if the thought or worry in your mind is helpful to your goals of the day or unhelpful. Are they within your control – ever? Is there evidence that supports the concern? Example: worries about a symptom. Is there a need for the worry to escalate into a self-diagnosis of something horrible? Or is it time for a checkup with your Dr. and review the evidence with them?

5. Get active and give your mind something else to do.

The mind and body are connected. Changing physiology can change your mind and your current mental state. Getting active, going outside no matter the weather, marching in place, stretching, changes the levels of chemicals (serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins) associated with mental feelings, thoughts, emotions, and breaks the loop by giving the mind something else to do. Regular movement can help with better sleep, which helps manage mood and exercise improves your sense of control. This is a coping skill to mindfully recognize the early warning signs of this habit, stop, think, act, and be in control of your thoughts, instead of them being in control over you.