“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” – Arthur Somers Roche
Here we are again at the beginning of yet another unpredictable year. Once again, the Christmas period left many people feeling unstable and uncertain. Although many of us have got used to acclimatising to the possibility of rapidly changing circumstances, worry and catastrophising are still very much a part of our lives at the moment. Certainly more so than they ever had been before.
Concerns about the future are often legitimate, but it is important not to let them take over the present or let them take hold of our ongoing resilience. There is also the fact that some worries, when pondered on, may not require the energy you are expelling on them. So, here are a few thoughts on how to dull the emotional turmoil of seemingly uncontrollable worry…
1. Try to Be Rational
How much weight do your current concerns hold when put under a magnifying glass? Do they have merit? Or is the irrational part of your brain just running riot and just chipping away at your resilience? Which of these worries is genuinely worth your time? Take a good long moment to delve into the rationality of your fears about a given situation and as yourself how valid they really are.
2. Is There Anything You Can Do About It?
The issue with sitting and becoming more anxious and less resilient as you turn concerns over in your head is that it changes nothing. These things that are bothering you, is there something that you can do to change them? Are they concerns that can be resolved?
A great way to put worry to one side is to take action. This is for two reasons. One; action, movement and productivity often lift the mood and will probably ensure that some of your concerns fade on their own. The second is that by actively dealing with a fear or anxiety you are consciously dealing with a problem. Get up, get out of your head, and get the thing solved!
3. Uncertainty is A Fact of Life
Uncertainty is everywhere and, most of the time, there is nothing we can do to control that. Accepting that will help you to change your whole relationship with worry. The concerns that you have the power to control and solve, are worth addressing. And the ones you can’t solve, well, there’s nothing you can do about them; are they worth the energy and time you are exhausting by dwelling on them?
4. Conscious Worrying
You can worry, worry, worry until the proverbial cows come home. Yes, it’s useful to note the potential pitfalls or dangers of a situation. But to muse on them for long periods just leaves you feeling more and more down in the dumps. All you can do by dwelling is to repeat and remind yourself of all the things that could go wrong. These facts do not change as you repeat them and only serve to make you feel more anxious.
So, put a time limit on your worry. Allow yourself to layout your concerns for a limited time, after which you need to move on with your day. It may help you to write your concerns down during this period. Often, when we take thoughts out of our heads and put them on paper, they don’t look nearly as daunting or feel as overwhelming as they did when knocking around in your brain.
Worry is also brilliantly calmed by sharing it with other people. Sharing your thoughts with a trusted friend, partner or relative will help you to see your concerns through somebody else’s lens. Having someone else weigh in will confirm or deny the validity of your worry, and the connection should make you feel infinitely better.
6. Be Present in The Moment
Concerns over potential happenings in the future often cripple the ‘now’. Catastrophising is a common contributor to anxiety and stress and can be avoided by just focusing on what is happening in the present. Yes, you do need to do a little damage control ahead of time on some occasions, but do what you can and then let the worry go. If there is nothing else you can do about the future, sit back and focus on the present.
By Chris Thomson
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