If the world gave out Golden Globes for Worrying, I’d be the Meryl Streep of the category; especially in my younger days. I must have uttered “Be careful” twenty times a day. “Drive safely” was a close runner up. As if anyone gets in the car thinking “Today, I’m going to concentrate on driving as unsafely as I can.”
I really believed my amazing mental powers and the mere act of worrying would correct all problems, would make my teenager arrive home on time and would keep everyone I loved from harm. But I came from a long line of world class worriers.
What I know now is that worrying doesn’t work. It does not help anyone or any situation. It does, however, create a fist full of muscle spasms in your back, hand you a bucket load of stress and tension, cause massive headaches and encourage many otherwise healthy people to consume large quantities of chocolate cake in one sitting. In the words of Glen Turner, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.”
And yet, worrying is a sport everyone seems to feel requires mandatory participation; running the gamut from insignificant, day-to-day issues to serious, life-defining decisions.
Have I bought enough presents for everyone? Probably.
Do I need to bake more cookies for the Christmas Cookie Swap? Probably not.
Are there new batteries in the smoke alarms throughout the house? Easy one: Change them today.
Will I lose my job if I take another sick day? Will worrying help at all if you’re really sick? No.
My personal Worry List, coupled with yours, could probably fill hundreds of pages. But upon review, most of them would sound a little silly.
So, here are a few tricks that I’ve found help me avoid unnecessary worry and I hope might also help you. The next time you find your brain in overdrive:
- Stop for a moment and ask yourself (out loud) “Will these worrisome thoughts help the situation?” Almost 100 percent of the time the answer is no.
- Try to mediate for 10 minutes a day. It helps ground your mind and stops the swirling negative thoughts.
- If there’s a world crisis and you have most of the facts you need to facilitate your safety, turn off the TV. Walk away from your laptop. Put your cell phone away. Not forever. Just for fifteen minutes. The constant barrage of information is difficult to process – and this is true for both good news and bad. Your brain requires time to process all the data it takes in, even on a regular no-drama day.
The last and easiest thing to do is to simply place your hand over your heart (do it), tell yourself you can handle this and remember that life will ultimately work out.
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia