Sometimes, it is good to worry. If you are out for a hike and come across a bear, worry would be your friend. It’s not such a good thing when we do it excessively. It takes a tremendous toll on our health and happiness. I know from experience. I personally battled anxiety and excessive worry for two decades.
How do you know if you worry too much? Ask yourself two questions.
- Is it interfering with my life?
- On a scale from 1-10, how much distress are my worries causing me?
If the number is closer to ten than one—you are spending too much time worrying.
Get the Inside Scoop
What does your body “do” on worry? A number of unpleasant things take place both physiologically and biochemically when you frequent your “Fight or Flight” mode. The nervous system floods the blood stream with stress hormones such as cortisol. Once out of the cage, they hitch a ride to the major organs and heighten the body’s stress response. Too much cortisol can result in high blood sugar, weakened immune system and physical symptoms like nausea, headache and rapid heartbeat. There are many other, equally nasty symptoms that can result.
Here is one way you can lessen those unfriendly symptoms.
Welcome to the Worry Womb
Ruminating keeps your body in a constant state of stress. Dwelling on fear and negative does nothing productive for your mind or body. There is nothing healthy about it. But you can actually have productive worry sessions. I call this the “Worry Womb.”
Much like a fetus in the womb is nourished, giving nourishment to your thoughts and worries is critical in understanding their origin and in resolving and releasing them. Many people don’t do this, either because they feel they can handle it or because they do not want to feel uncomfortable. Make no mistake, this will make you uncomfortable, but setting aside time each day to worry can end rumination. Would you rather have thoughts of worry cross your mind all day long, preventing you from concentrating, keeping your body in a highly stressful mode? Or would you rather be proactive and face your fears head on, freeing yourself from its chains for most of the day and only think about them at a time and place that YOU decide is convenient? That is how you take back power.
Inside the worry womb, dedicate your time to writing down everything that is causing concern. Start with the most pressing worry. Grab a pen and make a list of your worries and the factors of each that are making you worried. For example, you might be worried about a pain in a specific body part. That is the concern. And the factors causing you to worry might be that you are afraid it is a serious disease or illness. Be specific and detailed when making your list.
Writing, instead of typing, utilizes different areas of the brain that can take you deeper but typing is far better than doing nothing. Most important is that you get the thoughts out of your head. Analyze your list and make a judgment; how likely is this worry to come to fruition? If the odds are not very high, try to let it go. There is no need to carry it around any longer. If the odds are high, then formulate a plan of action to put your mind at ease and take control of the situation. In the above example, a plan of action might be to make a doctor’s appointment and to research possible causes. You may find many others have had the same problem and that it was nothing major.
Writing and doing—that puts you in control. Giving yourself time to explore your fears means you face them and can conquer them. Worrying endlessly without action does not.
Fifteen to thirty minutes a day in the Worry Womb will usually suffice. If you find that is not enough time, you can add an extra fifteen minutes to the first few sessions. Take care that you do not spend too much time here, otherwise you’ll be doing the very thing you are trying to correct. Once you get a handle on fear and worry, you will notice you spend more time thinking about and doing things that make you happy. Take it from me, living happy is much better than living worried.
I originally wrote this post for, and it was first published at The Good Men Project. http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-to-end-your-excessive-worry-habit-dg/
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