“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
– Swedish Proverb
It can be all consuming. Have you thinking you are going crazy, which is just another thing to worry about.
Are you a worrier?
I want you to know, if you have a tendency to imagine the worst and consider every possible outcome of something in the future, you are not on your own.
Worry is one of the most common problems my clients come to me with. In this post I am going to share with you some of the most effective tools for worry. However, an important element of overcoming worry is understanding it, so I encourage you to read on and learn about worry in more detail. In this case, knowledge really is power.
What Is Worry?
Worry is an anxious state you find yourself in when you are uncertain about a problem that is real or imagined.
Worry can actually be the thought pattern of anxiety as well as the behaviour.
The thoughts, because it is that inner dialogue going on inside your mind.
The behaviour, because you might find yourself spending time worrying rather than doing anything else or the task at hand.
Why do you Worry?
In short, humans don’t like uncertainty. Which is a shame really, because uncertainty is about the only thing we can be certain about in this life.
In order to try and give yourself the feeling of control, you consider all the negative outcomes, all in an attempt to try and reduce the stress around uncertainty.
Client’s often tell me they worry in order to prepare. As I will explain, there is some slight truth in this, however(!!), there is a line. When worry becomes frequent, intense and time consuming, it loses it’s charm. I’m guessing if you are reading this, it has got to the point where worry is unhelpful for you and a change is necessary.
When is Worry a Good Thing?
A certain level of worry can be good for us. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t want to teach you to have no concern for your well-being, future or others at all.
Worry can be the motivator you need to book that doctors appointment, revise for that exam or step away from the edge of that cliff.
So, what I’m saying is, some worry is OK and in fact, it’s normal. Certainly, the job here is not to get rid of worry.
When is Worry a Problem?
Worry becomes a problem when it takes up your head space, time and leads to longer periods of stress and anxiety. Perhaps you are unable to carry out daily activities, focus on mundane tasks and experience a change in physiology (such as heart palpitations and sweaty palms).
In all honestly, whilst worry is common, how it effects you will be different to the next. So if this something you struggle with, you are the expert. In fact, I strongly encourage you to complete this sentence ‘worry is a problem for me when…’, identifying this will highlight why this is something you need to change, especially if you are someone who sees only the good in worry.
What you Need to Know About Worry?
I have already highlighted a key point that worry can be necessary when proportionate.
Worry tends to be future based, people often describe that things can start off as one problem and very quickly spiral to worst case scenarios and feel out of control.
There are two types of worry.
It’s important to understand the two types, because many people try to deal with them in the same way. When actually, they require different interventions to each other.
For example, you might find yourself trying to find the solution for hypothetical worries and let go of practical worries, which is unlikely to be useful.
Which type of worry can you relate to?
If you’re not sure, it would be beneficial for you to keep a record of your worries for a week and see which category you tend to fall in. Do not panic if some are mixed, that’s totally normal.
To help you further identify you type of worry, have a look at this Worry Tree.
I am going to give you some brief tips on overcoming worry. However, I am conscious that when you are overwhelmed with worry it can be tough to make these changes on your own. If you give these tools a go and you struggle, do not give up. You can change, you are not stuck like this or destined to worry for the rest of your life.
Given the fact many people believe worry helps them to stay in control, you may experience some reluctance to want to change, be mindful of this getting your way and remind yourself of why you said it has become a problem for you (think like a PROs and CONs list).
If you try self-help and it isn’t enough, seek support. Contact me HERE or speak to your GP. It’s fine to get some guidance along the way, it’s common and it is often needed.
Tool 1: Change your inner dialogue.
This is my number one tool. I change the conversation with myself. There are different questions you can ask yourself that might take away some of the intensity. I have listed some below, find the ones that work for you, write them down and when you find youself in a spiral, ank yourself these questions.
‘Is there another way of looking at this?’
‘How have dealt with similar situation in the past?’
‘What would I say to a friend in this situation?’
‘Is there an evidence this is going to happen?’
‘Will this matter in 5 days time? 5 weeks? 5 years?’.
Tool 2: You can cope
Remind yourself of your strength to overcome difficulties and challenges. So far you have got through everything that has come your way, why would this situation be any different.
When we worry, we overestimate how bad something will be and underestimate our abilities to cope. Remind yourself you will cope. As, when, if it happens, you will cope.
Trying repeating this matra ‘I can cope’. See what happens.
Tool 3: Be Present
When you are worrying, your thoughts are stuck in the future. Wondering what might be. When you are present and focused on the here and now, you will see you are coping the best you can. You are ok. Try these grounding techniques to help you with your anxious thinking.
Tool 4: Worry Time
This one takes some real commitment. The idea is you schedule a set time in your day or week to worry. I know it sounds counter intuitive but trust me, people who worry 24/7 really tend to like this one.
When you catch yourself worrying, you simply note it down and remind yourself you will return to it later. During Worry time, allow yourself to worry about it and you can ask this questions from Tool 1.
Tool 5: Distraction
This is useful is you have a a reoccurring worry you know there is nothing you can do about, and you have taken the learning you need. I say that because it is not about brushing problems under the carpet.
Do something that you enjoy and that can distract you for periods of time. It’s OK if it doesn’t last long, train yourself to refocus your attention each time.
Tool 6: Problem Solving
It’s easy to spend time worrying instead of actually doing the things you can control. If you have a practical worry, look at your different options and take action. If your first try doesn’t work out, try again. Taking action will reduce the anxiety for you.
There you have some of the key tools used to manage worry. As you will notice, each one does need you to do something new. If you are serious about breaking this cycle, you have to take action.
You can do it. Practice daily and take it easy on yourself.
If you need any extra support or want to book a coaching package with me, reach out and we can start with an informal chat. My priority is you feeling as comfortable as possible 🙂
You can also join my Facbeook Community for daily tips, tools and inspiration for when you need a boost:
Let me know what you are thinking of trying in the comments below.
Carly Ann xx