If you’ve been accused of being a worry wort, you may find that you even worry about worrying. While this isn’t unusual – especially these days – it is highly counterproductive.
The only real purpose of worry is as a catalyst to move us toward fixing, repairing, or solving a problem that can be reconciled. On the other hand, worrying about things over which we have no control is pointless.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to manage regular worry.
Garden Variety Worrying
Occasional worry is normal. It’s sometimes needed.
After all, to never worry or feel stress about anything might sound peaceful on the surface. But it’s also a recipe for apathy and indifference.
If you never experienced worry, you would likely be unmotivated to pay the bills, not care about where a loved one is, forget to exercise to stay healthy, or fail to look both ways before crossing the street.
So obviously, worry has a useful roll in our lives. And this is known as healthy worry. This sort of worry leads to taking positive action. Worrying you didn’t set your alarm or turn the stove off before you left can be rectified by checking your clock or stove.
Then there’s the worry that keeps you up night, draws you into an unreal past or future, and has you obsessing about things over which you have no control. And soon, you’re even worrying about how much you worry.
So Is It Normal to Worry About Worrying?
Well, maybe for some. It’s definitely not healthy though.
Here’s the thing. When healthy worrying becomes excessive, obsessive, or consuming, it can become unhealthy. So if your healthy worry is limiting you in some way, chances are you’ve crossed over into unhealthy worrying.
What does unhealthy worrying look like? Well, you may feel overwhelmed, find yourself procrastinating, or even avoiding work. Eventually, you may fall into the trap of worrying about worrying. And that’s nothing more than a downward spiral.
Fortunately, there are things you can do.
Healthy Habits to Manage Unhealthy Worry
One of the biggest components of worry is the inability to stay in the present moment. Worriers may obsess about something they said in the past that they can’t go back and change. Or they may be focusing on how they think something will turn out in the future without having any control of the situation.
So if you find that your normal healthy worrying is tipping into unhealthy worrying, you may want to consider doing the following:
1. Organize Your Mental Space
If your mental space is cluttered and disorganized, it can feel oppressive and paralyzing. This makes it feel impossible to even take the first step to clear things out.
So how to you lessen the chaos? Get it out of your head and onto paper. Write down what you need to do so you can SEE your plan. Take care of the least desirable tasks first to get them off the table. This will lessen your desire to procrastinate.
On the flip side, if you don’t have enough to do – which can breed its own worry – then write down some activities you can do to keep you active and out of your head.
Think of exercise as nothing more than moving your body and elevating your heart rate. It doesn’t have to be some boring workout routine or lifting weights. Just find something that feels good for your body and that you’ll be compelled to do again. Try kick boxing, dance around your living room, take up skiing, or even simply take a quiet walk. Any exercise will lessen anxiety and, in turn, decrease worrying.
3. Practice Yoga and Breathing
Practicing yoga, breathing, and mindfulness meditation can help you learn to quiet your thoughts and focus on the present moment to ease worry.
Yoga was developed thousands of years ago and is a highly effective way to quiet the mind and calm the nervous system. Another component of yoga is breathing and meditation. A wide range of breathing exercises are available to target whatever might be ailing you. Meanwhile, mindfulness meditation trains your brain to quiet itself and sit with your feelings.
4. Eat and Drink Well
Many of us struggle with stress eating. When we’re worried and don’t feel we have control, we may turn to self-medicating (but not healthy) foods such as sugar, diet soda, and any salty or fatty snack. These provide a false sense of peace for a short amount of time before kicking up worry-inducing anxiety. A diet rich in whole and natural foods can turn this around.
Furthermore, reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol consumption, which are both known to aggravate anxiety and increased worry.
5. Take It Easy!
Finally, take a look at what you’ve got on your proverbial plate. If you’re overwhelmed and always playing the role of superhero, you can bet you’re carrying around excess worry trying to keep everything in line.
The reality is, you can’t do it all. Try not to worry about saying no but instead, find the liberation in doing so. Life isn’t supposed to be all work. Regularly commit to activities that will ease your mind and calm your worry. This might be reading a book, taking a calming bath, having a meal with a friend, whatever. Remember, athletes only get stronger through cycles of work and recovery.
So give yourself a break. Seriously.
A Note About Chronic Worrying
It’s important to note that what we’re talking about in this article is regular worry that may dip into unhealthy worrying that can be alleviated through the above steps.
Chronic worrying, on the other hand, can signal a mental health disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In these cases, it’s best to be diagnosed by a mental health professional to determine the cause. Then you can work with the treatments (therapy, exercise, medication) for these specific conditions.
Ready to Bring Yoga/Meditation/Mindfulness Into Your Life?
If you’re concerned that you’re moving into some level of unhealthy worry, don’t worry! We can help.
Contact us today to find out how our yoga, life coaching, and mindfulness practices can help you slow down, stay aware, keep perspective, and stop worry about worrying.
So set up an appointment today. We can even come to you!