Worry, worry, worry. A lot of worrying going on, especially in this day-and-age. Is it human nature to worry? Do animals worry? I worry that I don’t know the answer to those questions. All kidding aside, I think all of us worry to some degree. Can we ever stop worrying?
“Don’t worry about it.” Easier said than done, because most people are prone to spending hours and hours ruminating about the fearful and negative things in life. This constant worrying is quite bad for our mental and physical health and it quickly takes a toll on us. Stress, concern, anxiety, frustration — all of these are negative emotions and while ridding ourselves of worry entirely may not be possible, there are ways to significantly weaken the effects of worrying on our mind and body.
“The elimination diet:
Remove anger, regret, resentment, guilt, blame, and worry.
Then watch your health, and life, improve.”
― Charles F. Glassman
If you happen to be Christian, you’re probably familiar with the teaching on why “not to worry” in Matthew 6:25-34. They are very wise words that we should take to heart:
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
“There isn’t enough room in your mind for both worry & faith. You must decide which one will live there.”
― Corrie ten Boom
And for people who aren’t Christian, don’t worry (pun intended), because there are of course other ways to control your worry and anxiety:
1. Identify the problem
Why are you worried? What is/are the issues causing your stress? To avoid worry becoming a chronic problem, face the issues analytically — work out in your mind why you’re worried and then jot it all down. Once you see it in writing, work out the various scenarios and outcomes — what could possibly happen and how could you handle those outcomes? Writing things out is usually a great stress reducer in itself.
2. Is the worrying productive?
Related to “identify the problem,” determine if your worrying is productive or not — can you even influence the causes of your worry? If you can’t, then the worry is not helping you at all. But, if you can influence the very causes of your worry, then scope out what it is you can do to ensure the best outcome?
3. Set aside worry time
Often, the worst part of worrying is that it can become all-consuming — when we dwell on something relentlessly and it begins to take a toll on our mental and physical health, we become weakened and thus, more susceptible to increased anxiety. Some experts say it might be a good idea to regularly set aside 15-20 minutes to really tackle the root cause of the worry. Related to 1 and 2 above, this would be a good time to face it, drag it into the light and tackle it — doing this puts you more in control of the fear itself, which thus helps to reduce anxiety/worry.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie ten Boom
Experts say that some form of increased physical activity can reduce stress and worry. If you’re able to, consider working out, going for a walk, a hike or some other form of physical activity that gets your mind off worrying.
5. Rely on your support network
Turning to friends and/or family can be very reassuring, so ask for help, whether that be in the form of advice or getting you out of the house and doing some fun activities with those you love.
Perhaps the best way to reduce the effects of worrying is to accept that all people worry to some degree, so it seems to be human nature. But, when worrying become debilitating, action is needed. As always, I advocate professional guidance when the problem becomes too big for us to handle on our own, so please never hesitate to talk to a qualified mental or medical health professional.
“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
– Arthur Somers Roche