Are you a worrier?
Here are my top 10 tips to help you stop worrying.
- Acknowledge the fear or concern you have. Sometimes, by just recognising the cause of the fear, the amount of worry can diminish. I used to worry that my employees would call in sick. When I discussed this with my coach, I realised my real fear was of letting customers down. Once I acknowledged this, my fear lost its power and my worrying significantly reduced.
- Challenge anxious thoughts. What evidence is there that your worry is well-founded? Is there any truth in it? Is there a more positive or realistic way to look at it? Is the thought helpful? What advice would you give to a friend who had this worry? I say the word “bogus” in my head to challenge unfounded worries. I like to acknowledge that I just made the thought up!
- Ask yourself is the problem solvable? If yes, then brainstorm the possible solutions. If not, then find a way to accept the uncertainty. No amount of worrying will help. That said, I like to think there is always a solution whether I can see it or not. This helps me to diminish the worry.
- Interrupt the worry period. Distract yourself. Get outdoors. Do some exercise. Meditate. Listen to an audiobook or some of your favourite music. Anything to get your mind off the topic of concern. Often during these times, solutions will pop into my head, even though the worry was not on my mind.
- Create a dedicated time for worry. If you are a serious worrier, try allocating a regular time of the day only for worrying and strictly keep to it. Write down your worries if it helps. Be strict with yourself. Practice saying to yourself “I will think about this at…(time)” . This will stop you ruining your whole day.
- Talk about your worries. A problem shared is a problem halved they say. An open conversation with a good friend is hard to beat. He or she will inevitably be more objective than you and may be able to give you another perspective.
- Practice mindfulness. Focus on the present. Often, worries are focused on the past, over something we have said or done, or on the future, over something which might happen. Try to enjoy the present moment – let your senses come alive. Breathe deeply and observe your surroundings without judgement.
- Try using affirmations. Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a big fan of affirmations. Have fun creating a new story for yourself by reciting statements about how you want things to be. If you are worried about money, try “I always have more than enough money” or if that is too difficult to believe, try something more general like “all is well”. A favourite of mine is “Everything is all right, right now”.
- Lift your mood. Do anything to keep your mood elevated. Worrying is more likely to occur when you are feeling low. Spend time with friends, play feel good music, sing, watch comedy films on TV, go for a walk or to the gym, anything that will help you feel better.
- Sleep well. Don’t lose sleep worrying. If you struggle to get off to sleep at night, keep a pen and pad by your bedside and make a note of your worries and promise yourself you will consider them the next day, during your scheduled “worry time”. If you wake in the middle of the night, please know that it is natural to be on alert. According to Prof. Steve Peters, author of ‘The Chimp Paradox’, if you wake in the night, the limbic area of the brain (the chimp brain) awakens first. This area of the brain is governed by the amygdala, which triggers our fight, flight or freeze response. The cognitive area of your brain awakens more slowly. This is why problems always seems worse at 3am! Tell yourself you will think about your issue in the morning, when your human brain is engaged!
I hope these tips are helpful. Please try them and let me know how you get on.