Updated: May 10
OK, first of all, let’s remember that some worrying is essential to our survival instincts. Being able to identifying fearful situations is a fundamental part of being a human being, but keeping our worries under control is important, although very challenging at times. If you find yourself consumed with worrisome thoughts, please don’t despair... you are not alone, and I have strategies to help.
If you think about it, we worry forwards and backwards. What I mean by that is, we tend to focus our worries on
🙄 what might happen in the future (all of the “what ifs...?”)
🙄 replaying (negatively) what’s already happened
Either way, this worrying holds little benefit; we can neither change the past nor predict the future. We can of course influence it, by focussing on the positive outcomes we’d like. Worrying will change nothing in a positive way.
Consistency is key with any change you want to make, and when it comes to “managing worry”, it’s no different.
The first step is to truly WANT to reduce your worrying habit. Now it might seem a little strange to suggest anyone would want to worry at all, but it can be highly compelling and habitual. You may recognise that worrying can feel somehow addictive once you start; once the worrying thought has been triggered, it circulates repeatedly until
a) we become totally distracted by something else
b) the worry is resolved
Now with the latter, the resolution almost always comes from the worry NOT becoming reality... Think about it, when was the last time things turned out as badly as you imagined? It’s probably not that easy to recall, so maybe you’d prefer to use your energies elsewhere 😊
Step 2, is to focus on your self-awareness; deep awareness of those early shifts in your thoughts and feelings that indicate a worry mindset. That might be heightened tension or anxiety or maybe physical indications like elevated heart rate, breathing or a racing mind.
Finally, you need a simple technique that you can use at the very first point you become aware of your worrying. Here are a couple that are very popular with my clients.
Strategy 1 - Firstly recognise the unwanted thought pattern, then turn your attention to
✅ 5 things you can see
✅ 4 things you can feel (clothes on skin / feet on floor etc)
✅ 3 things you can hear
✅ 2 things you can smell
✅ 1 thing you can taste
Take your time and focus on each sense. It really cuts off the negative feeling, projects your mind outwards and brings your thoughts to the current moment.
Strategy 2 - Once you notice yourself feeling worried, take a deep breath and identify where you feel tension. Scan your body starting at your toes and working your way up to your head. Wherever you feel tension, focus on breathing into that discomfort and physically relaxing. Slowly releasing the tightness in your body can bring such relief, you’ll be compelled to use “scanning” more and more regularly.
If you want to lose the worries, and choose to change, try the techniques today. And remember, consistency is key.... you are UN-learning an old habit, and re-educating the subconscious. Repeat, repeat, repeat for long term change 👌.