“Worry is the direct descendant of the need to be in control. We cannot see everything. We do not know everything. It’s impossible for us to control everything…” –Iyanla Vanzant
Worrying is a natural part of life. Occasional worrying is actually a good coping skill that helps us plan ahead. However, worrying too much can become counterproductive, distracting and damaging to our mental and physical state.
Most of the things we worry about aren’t likely to happen in the first place, yet we waste vast amounts of emotional energy on them.
1 out of 10 people worry excessively. Extreme worrying can be a symptom of a mental health issue such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder. Some people who worry constantly and their worrying derails their lives may have a chemical imbalance and need medication, therapy or both.
For many of us, we worry because we want to control a situation, person or outcome that we usually don’t have that much control over. Worrying a lot usually means that you are trying really hard to control something, yet worrying usually doesn’t do anything to help or change the situation, it just causes us more emotional anguish.
Here are five tips to help combat worrying:
- Allow yourself to worry in small increments: I’ve told clients who worry a lot to designate one part of their day as their worry time, that way their worrying doesn’t build up nor do they worry throughout the entire day.
- Try to problem solve: Worrying is a poor attempt to solve a problem. It simply doesn’t work. Instead of wasting the energy on worrying, try to think of solutions to the problem you are worrying about.
- Learn to deal with uncertainty: Uncertainty is just a part of life, sometimes random things just happen, but many of us are unwilling to except that. We have to know and/or be in control of things that we simply can’t be. The faster we learn to deal with uncertainty, the easier it will be to stop worrying and the easier it will be to actually deal with the unexpected.
- Stay in the present: When we worry, we aren’t actually enjoying what’s going on around us now. We are so far into the “what ifs” of the future, that we are missing out on the great possibilities of right now. You can acknowledge your worries, but that doesn’t mean you have to allow them to pull you in. Meditation and mindfulness activities can help ease some of the stress from worrying and bring you back to the present.
- Get out of your head: You may find that putting what you’re worrying about down on paper helps release some of its power over you. Some people keep a worry journal next to their bed so that if their worries keep them up at night they can just jot them down on paper and “release” them. Guatemalan worry dolls, for example, are dolls based on a legend where children in Guatemala make dolls to tell their worries to and the doll “takes” their worry away.
“I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened.” -Mark Twain