“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” ― Roy T. Bennett
When it comes to worrying, I consider myself a pro, I know I am.
I worry about things that already happened, things that are happening right now, and things that may or may not happen at some point in the near or distant future.
It’s not a lot of fun, but it’s the way I naturally operate.
Yes. On some level, it can be beneficial to be a worrier. Because I have thought of every possible scenario, I often feel prepared for situations that occur.
On the other hand, worrying too much can be… well, worrisome. Worrying more than necessary can lead to stress, anxiety, fears and even melancholy. Studies show worrying can also lead to all sorts of other health issues like heart problems, high blood pressure, ulcers or maintaining a healthy weight. It can even speed up the aging process.
Despite knowing all that, I still worried.
But one day I read how worrying is like praying for what you don’t want…
The idea sunk into my soul, having a profound effect on me.
As someone who believes in the energy of my thoughts and words, this made perfect sense. Of course, worrying and thinking of all the things that can go wrong may actually manifest them. I don’t want that!
So I vowed to not voice worries again and to push them out of my mind when I found them creeping in. And though I have gotten better about it, I sometimes catch myself over thinking, worrying and worrying some more.
Worriers of the world: if you find yourself worrying too much, it may be time to do something about it.
If you are unsure where to begin, start simple.
Make a list of the things causing you anxiety. It doesn’t matter if they seem silly or are much larger. Just jot down what comes to mind.
Set aside some time to sit and examine the list. There is no room for judgment here. This is simply space to carefully dissect the distressing thoughts passing through your mind.
How to Stop Worrying and Start Feeling at Peace
Tackle One Item at a Time
Go through the list and ask yourself if anything you’ve written down will still matter a day, a week, a month or a year from now. If it won’t, the chances are you probably don’t need to stress about it now.
Are you worrying about something that happened in your past? Realize it’s time to come to peace with it so you can live in the present.
If what’s weighing you down is something out of your control or something that can’t be solved immediately, vow to take a deep breath, let it go and repeat the phrase: “I release what I cannot control.” This way you reserve the right to take it more seriously if and when it bumps up in importance or becomes something you can take action on.
If any items on your list involve worrying about someone else’s worries—like a friend going through a break-up, health issue or job struggle, vow to be kind, compassionate and helpful, but not at the cost of your own peace of mind. It may feel difficult to draw a healthy line, but giving more of yourself than you can handle will only lead to more stress.
Remember, if you don’t take care of your needs first, you won’t be able to help anyone else.
Are you worried about what other people think of you?
Cross that off immediately and set you free. Repeat this mantra: “What other people think of me is none of my business.”
And, this is especially important: if there are items on your list that are vague, come to terms with them. Ask yourself what it is you are genuinely afraid of and see if you can let it go.
For example, if you are worried about meeting someone new, you may realize that you are actually afraid of being vulnerable and getting hurt. Get to the root of the worry so you can have a better chance of overcoming it or releasing it. Try and release this fear so you can be more open for what’s ahead. (And have faith! There are new people and opportunities ahead!)
There’s one more thing you have to do and it may be much more difficult.
You must come to terms that some things in life are uncertain. There are some situations or problems we just have to let go of and let time sort out. Learning to accept uncertainty—“The information I need will come to me at the right time”—can help you live a less stressful day-to-day life.
It may help to remind yourself that most of the things you worry about may never happen. Why worry about something that doesn’t exist yet? Center yourself on the here and now, by journaling, meditating or confiding in someone you trust who can get you back to the present moment.
Clearing your head space to make room for what is actually happening and what you can control is essential. It is more doable to solve a few problems instead of a few hundred. Narrowing down your focus and solving things as they come is much more manageable and better for your overall health.
What worries will you tackle or release today?