Written by Ivette Moutzouris
Probably not, but there are certainly some changes that you can make that can minimize persistent worrying.
At the core of worrying is the idea that I am not in control and therefore am afraid of the unknown. I was talking to a group of young adults recently about the fact that we have an innate desire to be in control. The reality is that we aren’t in control a lot of the time. We just have to watch the news to see that this is true on a global scale and look at our own lives to see that the hurt, disappointments, sadness, stress, anxiety and worry that we experience usually come from events that are out of our control.
Worry Free Living therefore has to begin with an acceptance and acknowledgement of what is the reality….that is that I can’t control everything and can’t predict what my future will hold. Once we get to this place there is a sense of peace as we become more accepting and hopefully learn to enjoy the ride of life with its ups and downs and twists and turns. Equally as important is a clear understanding of the things that I can control…..that is ‘I can control what I will do as a response’, ‘I can make goals’, ‘ I can choose to admit that I am wrong sometimes’, ‘I can choose to say yes or no’, ‘I can choose to try and move forward’, ‘I can choose to focus on my achievements whilst learning from my mistakes’, ‘I can choose to be the best me’, ‘I can choose to accept the things I can’t change’ . Understanding what I can control vs what I can’t is therefore very important and liberating. It helps us to be proactive when it’s needed but also accept the things we can’t change.
Simplify your life. We often try to do too much and sometimes this can contribute to increased levels of stress, anxiety and worry. Reexamine your commitments and what you are actually able to fit into your life. Ask yourself questions such as ‘Am I taking time out to take care of me?’, ‘Am I learning to find pleasure in the things I am committed to?’ or ‘Am I choosing to do too much at the detriment of my health and well- being?’. If the latter is true then it would be helpful to make some changes or to get some help.
Create a Worry and Problem Solving Time. This helps to break the habit of ruminating or persistently worrying about things all day and night. It enables you to create a special time so that you can problem solve and think through the problem clearly. It also helps to free up the rest of day to do things with a more focused approach but knowing you will attend to your problems/worries later. Remember that when you do this try to assess the things you can control vs what you can’t.
Nurture Yourself. This is important because ultimately you live in the ‘here and the now’. It is important to make goals for the future but it is also important to focus on what you are doing now and how you may want things to be different. For example you may realise that you are not taking proper care of yourself and need to make positive health changes in the form of a healthy diet, exercise and better sleep.
We cannot completely escape worrying but we can definitely learn to approach life’s challenges without carrying all the burdens on our shoulders and we can also learn to value and enjoy what we do have.
Forsyth, John., & Eifert, George (2007). The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety. Canada. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Bourne, Edmund., & Garano, Lorna. (2003). Coping With Anxiety. Oakland, C.A. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.