Are You A Worrier? Managing Worry In Difficult Times, Part II

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 “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”  ― Corrie Ten Boom

Many of us consider worry a given.  It may be, as a friend often says, “Worrying about my children and grandchildren is a mother’s job. It’s what we do.” Or it may be accepting it as part of what your parents imprinted upon you as worrying was a strong part of their mode of living. “I just can’t help myself.”  I personally reject those characterizations.

Taking Control of Your Worries

While it may not seem like it, it is possible to take control of your worries. With a little patience, practice and persistence, you can become calmer and learn how to take control over your worry as soon as it starts to occur.

Here are some of the best ways to do that.

Create a plan

Having a plan in place to combat toxic worry can be very helpful. For this, you’ll need to write down all of the things you’re worried about. I suggested doing that in the previous post, http://carolbrusegar.com/managing-worry-in-difficult-times-part-i/.

Then consider what kind of worry each is – generalized, perfection, fear of making  mistakes, social or post-traumatic stress worry. (These are described in Part I.) Knowing this will help you in the next steps.

Once you have your worry list, you can start to think of ways to reduce them. How can you eliminate the worry and what steps will you need to take? Creating a little to-do list of things you can do to reduce the worry, and then ticking off the tasks as you do them will help you feel more in control of the situation.

Arm yourself with facts

You’ll often find that toxic worry stems from either a lack of information or the wrong information. You could be worrying about something that you don’t fully understand or have adequate information about.

So, if you want to take control, arm yourself with facts. Learn everything you can about the thing you’re worrying about. The more knowledgeable you are about the thing you’re worried about, the less you’ll actually worry.

One of the most difficult things about these times is that there either aren’t “facts” available or there are differing opinions which people claim as facts. Perhaps part of your worry is how to deal with these discrepancies as you make personal decisions. So taking steps to put boundaries around your worries can be helpful.

Allow yourself small worry windows

It may not be possible, or even healthy, to never worry about anything. Particularly in times of great uncertainty, there can be a role for non-obsessive worry. Make time to acknowledge your worries. Set aside small windows of time each day and train your mind to worry only during these designated periods.

Then, once the time is up, you aim to forget about your worries for the rest of the day. This allows you to use your time to take some action or just be in the present and enjoy what is. This creates a much healthier balance, ensuring you aren’t burying your head in the sand, but you also aren’t letting your worries take over.

Challenge your thoughts

When you start to notice those negative worrying thoughts, challenge them. It’s common to make your worries appear worse than they actually are – jumping to the worst-case scenario. Most of us are really good at asking what if this or that bad thing happened and dwelling on that.

Leave yourself open to the possibility that things won’t be as bad as you think. Identify healthier, more positive ways to look at the situation. Look at what the probability of the worst-case scenario happening is. Also look at whether the worry is helping or hindering the situation. If it isn’t helping, why are you giving it the power to control you?

Interrupt the cycle

Sometimes, you just have to interrupt the cycle. When you catch yourself worrying over something, turn your focus to something else.

Four things many people use effectively are exercise, meditation, deep breathing, listening to particular kinds of music, and reading.

Overall, toxic worry can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. However, there are ways to tackle and control it. The above are some of the best things you can try to take control over toxic worry and start living a happier, healthier life, even in these times of uncertainty.

You will find options of music for relaxation and meditation that can help interrupt the cycle and manage your worry here: Music for Relaxation and Meditation

https://amzn.to/3eeJtST

ARE YOU A WORRIER? MANAGING WORRY IN DIFFICULT TIMES, PART I

Are You a Worrier

Do you find yourself worrying a lot these days? It may be related to the broad effects of the pandemic or to the specific effects on our personal lives. When there is great uncertainty, worry multiplies.

Worry is a word that we use a lot. Let’s use this definition as a base: to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.  As a noun, worry is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems and it can be toxic, affecting every part of your life.

Why does it happen?

There are a lot of things that can contribute to toxic worrying. The most common include:

  • Feeling vulnerable and insecure
  • Lack of control
  • Negativity breeds negativity
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Stress

That pretty much describes our situation today, in my opinion. Although we use one term, there are different types of worrying. Which one(s) affect you most?

Generalized toxic worry

With generalized toxic worry, there is no one cause. You’ll worry about everything from finances to relationships. The worry is continuous, and it really impacts your day to day life.

This is actually the most common type of worry. You’ll find it hard to get a break from the worry and anxiety, and there may be no particular trigger.

Perfection worry

None of us are perfect. However, those suffering with perfection worry tend to feel like they should be. You’ll scrutinize everything you do, berating yourself for not doing better.

It could be perfectionism at work, at home or within your social circle. We all want to manage the various aspects of surviving in these times with perfection but there are new challenges with work, home, school and more. While a little perfectionism can actually be healthy, too much quickly becomes toxic.

Fear of making mistakes

Fear is a common emotion, but it can easily take over your life. This is especially true when you’re scared of making mistakes.

The truth is, we all make mistakes and it is how we learn from them that makes us better ourselves. In a time when so much is changing and there are no models or blueprints to use, this can be a particularly common type of worry. It’s important that we do our best in each situation and know there will be mistakes made as we try to find our way.

Social worry

With social worry, you’ll typically find yourself worrying about how you come across in social situations. You’ll feel uncomfortable around people and fear being judged by those around you.

There are different levels of severity with social worry. It may simply make you feel uncomfortable and anxious while you’re out. Or, in severe cases it could make you avoid social situations completely.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In some cases, toxic worry can be related to post-traumatic stress disorder. While this is the least common type of toxic worrying, it can still be a potential cause. With this type of toxic worrying, it occurs after a stressful and traumatic experience. These days in a pandemic could be triggering some previous time – an accident you’ve suffered, a time of economic crisis, or a death of a loved one for example. To avoid going through the experience again, your mind starts to worry more. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition which may call for professional treatment.

Why recognizing your toxic worry is important

The different types of toxic worry have a slightly different impact on your health and well-being. They also require a different form of management. Some will require professional help, while others can be managed successfully by yourself.

It is only after you have identified the type of toxic worry you’re experiencing that you can work on how to get past it. Toxic worrying can have a debilitating impact on your life.

What kind of worry are you experiencing?

A first step is to write down all the things that you are worrying about, which type of toxic worry it is, and how frequently it is happening. Write a bit more about each one to understand it better. In an upcoming post, I will suggest some ways to manage worry in your life.

If you are ready to dig into this more right now, consider this book:

The Worry Cure, Seven Steps to Stop Worry From Stopping You