By Todd Craig
In many ways, the last year has felt out of control. With the slower pandemic pace and life reminding you left and right of what you cannot control, worry and anxiety have peaked and become more common than is comfortable. The reality of living through unprecedented historical events can invite your mind to spiral into worst case scenario thinking about life in general.
Worry is a natural part of life. We all worry from time to time, but you don’t have to be consumed by worry. So, what are you supposed to do to keep the worrying from taking over your thought life?
6 Ways to Keep Worry from Taking Over Your Life:
- Acknowledge the worry. Often, trying to ignore the worry or trying to wish it away can make you worry about the worrying. So, if anxious thoughts are playing over and over in your head, it may help to get them out of your head and onto paper. Schedule 15 minutes a day to put your anxieties down on paper. Confine your worry to that 15 minutes per day and postpone giving energy to the worry until your 15 minute worry time. Often, simply naming the anxiety can take away some of its power.
- Challenge the narrative. Sometimes your anxieties are exaggerated negative perspectives. Your imagination may inflate the challenges you may be faced with or minimize the tools and abilities you have to confront them. As you write down your anxieties, also ask “What’s the truth in the story?”, “What is a more positive way to look at this scenario?” and “How is worrying helping?” These questions are good ways to challenge the narrative.
- Share your worry. Identify someone you trust who is also a peaceful and encouraging presence in your life and share some of your worry with them. Sharing your anxiety with a friend may uncover creative ways to solve or address the issue causing anxiety. And, sometimes speaking the worry out loud may expose it as unwarranted.
- Exercise. During physical activity endorphins are released in the body. Endorphins are the body’s natural way of reducing pain and stress and producing feelings of pleasure. Additionally, exercise helps you to be mindful of your body and your surroundings which helps to take your mind and energy off of those things you are anxious about.
- Act or surrender. Ultimately, worry can’t be wished away, it must be replaced with either action or surrender. If the problem is one you can do something about, create a list of actionable steps to solve the problem and get to work. If the problem is outside of your control, name it, acknowledge that it is outside of your control, and prayerfully surrender it to God.
- Seek professional help and support. If the worry isn’t relieved by employing some of these strategies or has persisted over a prolonged period of time, find a professional who can work with you to work through it. Life is too short to needlessly live in a state of worry, stress and anxiety. There is help available!
As you address your worries, remember that some worry and anxiety are normal. While uncomfortable, worry alerts you to areas of your life that might need dedicated attention. Slow down and be open to what your worry is trying to tell you about things you might need to change in your life. If you’d like additional support with feelings of worry and overwhelm, Journey Bravely currently has coaching sessions available to help you along your journey. Connect with us at journeybravely.com.
Todd Craig is a Life and Leadership coach whose passion is to see others discover and thrive in the life they were meant to live. With over 20 years of having clarifying conversations and guiding people through life change, Todd has coached others to identify places of feeling stuck and overwhelmed in work and life and provide effective, strategic tools and questions to help them move life forward both at home and work. Todd offers coaching in both professional and personal capacities toward identifying, developing and living your goals, desires, and dreams.