If you constantly worry about anything and everything that might possibly go wrong, you might be worrying your life away – literally. In addition to negatively affecting the quality of your life, excessive worrying can harm your mental as well as your physical health. Incessant worry may even cause you to turn to unhealthy lifestyle habits in order to cope, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or overeating. Keeping this helpful piece of advice in mind by Erma Bombeck is a good idea: “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” If that doesn’t help, try one or more of these five ways to get your worrying under control.
Try belly breathing- The second you catch yourself worrying, accept your thoughts and mentally tell yourself to stop. Immediately begin belly breathing which slows down all of the body’s nervous reactions. Belly breathing simply means to breathe fully from your abdomen, which is the reverse of how you breathe when you’re feeling anxious or tense. Breathing this way even for just a minute or two can cause anxiety to die down and free you from obsessive thoughts.
Exercise – While physical activity may not solve all of your problems, it is a healthy way to take your mind off of your worries and it can even help you break an obsessive cycle. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can go for a walk, dance around the house, play tennis, jog or take part in any other type of exercise.
Whenever you get hit with those worrisome thoughts, even just doing some simple stretches or walking around for a few minutes can help take you out of that negative feedback loop.
Avoid toxins – Many people tend to turn to alcohol, nicotine, or even junk foods to ease those anxious feelings that come from excessive worrying, but self-medicating usually only creates more problems over time. Break the cycle by limiting or avoiding alcoholic beverages, not smoking and feeding your body healthy, nutritious foods which will help make your mind and body stronger, and better able to deal with issues as they inevitably arise.
Make a list and a plan – If you’ve got legitimate worries that are just spinning around in your head and you don’t do anything about them, your situation may only get worse. For example, if you’re worried about an impending layoff at work, create a plan of action so that you’ll be prepared when and if it happens – update your resume, browse job listings, or even come up with an idea to start your own business.
Don’t tackle too many worries at once, concentrate on one or two at a time and then develop your plan to address it. The process can help you feel less vulnerable and more in control of your life.
Limit time watching or reading the news – Our current culture of instant news all the time is thrown in our faces through television, newspapers, and more than ever, the Internet, with the latest disaster highlighted over and over in an endless replay. While it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, too much news watching can easily feed your worries and anxiety. And this goes for excessive checking of e-mail as well.
It has become common for people to check their e-mail 50, 75 or even 100 times or more in a day. While e-mail provides us an excellent method of staying connected with people, it can also turn into an obsession, distracting us and feeding our worries (eg., “Why didn’t John get back to me?’, ‘What is happening in the stock market … are my investments safe?’ or ‘Did my team score in the last 10 seconds?’). Sometimes the pace of life just gets too busy and we forget what really matters. Decide what matters and focus on that.
By following these tips, you might just find that your worries easily drift off, just like a cloud in the sky on a beautiful spring day.