Worry: feel or cause to feel anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems.
Now, it’s fair to say that nearly all of us have been worrying more over the last 12 months collectively than at any other time in our lives. Worry about COVID, our loved ones, our job security, being stuck indoors for what feels like eternity, missing friends, family, work colleagues, finances, going to the gym! The list feels endless.
And whilst worries, doubts, and anxieties are a normal part of life they have effects on not only our mental but also our physical health and even a small shift in mindset can make the world of difference to our day to day lives.
Worrying uncontrollably about the “what ifs” and “worst-case scenarios” every single day interferes with your daily life and can sap your emotional strength, leave you feeling restless and jumpy, cause insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, and muscle tension, and make it difficult to concentrate.
But, how do we train ourselves to stop worrying and essentially focus on the things we can control;
1️⃣ Write your worries down: whenever a worry pops into your head, jot it down and get it out of your head. And whilst doing so, tell yourself you will remember to sort it out or think about it later. No need to worry now! And, if later comes and you don’t need to look at it again, even better!
2️⃣ When you have a worry, make it black and white. Can you do anything about it? If yes, make a note. If no, forget about it and move on.
3️⃣ Exercise: it’s well known that exercise is one of the BEST self anxiety treatments there is. If you feel yourself getting worried, stressed, anxious or worked up, even if it’s at work or during work hours. Stop what you’re doing and get moving. Go for a walk, a jog or a workout if you have time. But crucially leave your technology alone! Don’t waste that time trying not to worry by then filling your brain with other content. Free your mind so that when you get back you’ll feel better, more focussed and more refreshed. Trying to stop worrying by mindlessly scrolling social media is proven to actually increase anxiety!
4️⃣ Practise mindfulness: when we worry it’s usually as a result of focussing on the future or the past rather than the now. Mindfulness has been around for centuries and as a practise it can help you break free of your worries by bringing your attention back to the present. The technique is based on observing any worries you may have and then letting them go, helping you to identify where it is that your worry is coming from and better getting in touch with your emotions.
5️⃣ Meditation: following on from mindfulness is meditation. This practise, completed regularly is a fantastic way of shifting your entire outlook and making you feel more at peace with your feelings. Try to meditate 3 or 4 times a week for maximum benefits. Find a quiet place and sit on a comfortable chair or cushion with your back straight and your hands resting on the tops of your upper legs. Close your eyes, breathing in through your nose and allow the air fully down into your belly letting your abdomen expand fully. Breathe out through your mouth aiming for 5 seconds inhaling and 5 seconds exhaling, all the time drawing your attention to your breathing. If at any time your mind starts to wander, particularly in the early stages of meditation don’t judge yourself as it takes some time to get used to the process, simply draw your attention back to your breathing.