How to Defeat the Worry Bug
How to Defeat the Worry Bug
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
— WINSTON CHURCHILL
When I was younger, I worried a lot. Now that I’m a mother, worry became my default mode. I’ve heard that it’s normal to worry more as we enter parenthood, but I wanted to reduce the constant feeling of unease and replace it with joy about being a mother. I worked hard to squash the worry bug. I think some fear can serve a purpose, but this worry that was dictating my thoughts was not how I wanted to live.
BELOW ARE 10 THINGS I DID THAT YOU CAN DO TOO--SQUASH THE WORRY BUG ONCE AND FOR ALL:
1). Write Down Your Worry: When you are experiencing a recurring worry, write it down on a piece of paper and throw it away. Throwing your worry in the trash allows you to experience a physical way to let go of it which can be reassuring and rewarding. Also, by writing it down, you give that worry less power because once you write it, you are no longer sitting with it in your brain alone. (Plus this is a great way to use scrap paper that you would throw away anyway.)
2). Think, “Am I MSUing?” MSU stands for making shit up. Yup, that’s right, when you worry about a future interaction, conversation, or situation, you are actually making up what’s going to happen in our mind before the experience actually occurs. The next time you find yourself creating a drama script, ask yourself, “Am I MSUing?” Chances are high that you are. You might be making up what you think another person will say, act, think, or feel beforehand (especially when confrontation is involved, like telling your boss you need a day off because your kid is sick after just coming off a vacation). Simply put, don’t make stuff up.
3). Take a Time Out: It’s okay to take a few minutes to hit the pause button. Make yourself a cup of tea, read a book, or take slow deep breaths. Doing a little something for yourself everyday helps decrease stress, and in turn, lessens anxiety and worries.
4). Practice Mindfulness on a Daily Basis: Research shows that mindfulness has many benefits. With mindfulness, you actually train your brain to deactivate the flight or flight system. “If your body feels less of the physical symptoms of stress, your mind will interpret that there is less stress to worry about because the body is not in a state of heightened arousal.” (SOURCE: healthynaturalfamily.com).
5). Increase Physical Touch: When we hug or cuddle loved ones, our body releases a feel good hormone called oxytocin. Make a concerted effort to spend quiet time embracing your loved ones, sitting with your child on your lap, or cuddling with your spouse during movie night. (Or maybe swap some back massages).
6). Tap Into Your Senses: Eat a good piece of chocolate, listen to your favorite song, smell a flower, or rub some essential oils on your wrist (lavender is a good one). Draw your awareness outside of your worried mind to the things you are seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting, etc. (Plus you get to eat some chocolate.)
7). Get Outside: Nature has a way of creating a calming effect. Stepping outside can be the perfect remedy to your worries. Try to get outside everyday. Go for a short walk, look at the moon each night before you go to bed, or read your child a book outside on your porch. A little fresh air can go a long way. (Good news! Even if you can’t get outside, you can get some benefits from just looking outside for awhile).
8). Move Your Body: Stretch in the morning before looking at your phone, go for a long walk with your kids and dog, take up yoga or kickboxing. Whatever you need to do to get moving, do it. Not only is exercising good for your body, it’s great for your brain!
9). Focus On What You Can Control: When your worries start to unravel ask yourself, “What can I control to lessen my anxiety?” Sure, there’s a lot you can’t control, but look for the small part that you can. For example, if you tend to get anxious in the car, check the traffic status beforehand to find the quickest route to your destination. Give yourself a small sense of control to avoid becoming overwhelmed by things you can’t control.
10). Find Grace: Be gentle with yourself. Worrying is something that everyone deals with. Give yourself some slack when you worry. Keep this list with you and remind yourself that it certainly takes time and practice when learning how to squash the worry bug.