“Thoughts bring to the thinker something of equal consistency,” states Mary Brown, an energy practitioner. “This is why people become what they fear.”
When you worry you draw worrisome issues your way. We all worry. There are so many people who are fraught with worry to the point of holding them back from doing what they love, living their life and finding their purpose. Sure, there is a healthy amount of concern that we face in change or when bad news comes our way, but when worry becomes the main focus, it also becomes the ultimate fate.
“Worry is defined as perseverative thought patterns about something that has happened or will happen,” explains Amy Jarchow, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist. “Worry keeps us in the past or the future and it makes it difficult to enjoy the present.”
Gain Perspective. Recently, I spoke with someone who, while battling a devastating illness, always stayed positive. Their secret? “Why spend your days worrying when you can’t control the outcomes?” she asked. Great advice. She went on to state how every day is precious and it’s important to put things in perspective.
“It can help to zoom out and ask yourself, how will I feel about this in two hours, two days or two weeks or two months?” says Dr. Jarchow. “Often this type of strategy can help you see the bigger picture and how this is but a moment in time that will eventually unfold into other moments in your life.”
Still, when your boss is pushing you for a deadline and you can’t sleep for fear you may lose your job, the stress you invite in only derails your health and energy so you won’t bring your very best. Dr. Jarchow suggests scheduling time in your day to address your worries. “This may help you let go of them in the moment with reassurance that you can think about them later in the day.” While it might sound strange at first, scheduling worry time invites powerful self reflection along with a commitment to hold worries until that time and that time only. Use this time to journal your thoughts and strategize ways to lesson these negative thoughts and problem solve.
Stay Strong. If you’re facing a health concern, worry can only make the situation worse by sapping your energy, attacking your resiliency and turning to stress. “Our bodies are not meant to endure chronic stress,” explains Dr. Jarchow. “The hormones released during the fight or flight response can help us in the short term, but long term elevated levels lead to weakened immune systems, disrupted sleep and distractibility.” She recommends making self-care a priority. Ensuring good amounts of sleep, nutrition, exercise and meditation are part of your regular routine. “I do my best to find time for movement breathing/meditation and connecting with others during my day,” says Dr. Jarchow. “Even if it’s a matter of minutes, but something is better than nothing.”
Just Breathe. Anytime you feel the effects of worry and stress derailing you, turn to your breath. “In investigating the research and collaborating with others in the mindfulness field, we’ve found that for many of us one deep breath can increase tension and anxious feelings,” explains Marisa Faye, nutritional therapy practitioner and fitness and wellness expert. “Instead, I recommend three deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. This is a type of breathing that I integrate into my day anytime I feel my stress levels rise. This simple awareness leads to a deeper connection with my mind and body along with the ability to be more present in the moment. This presence allows for things that don’t matter to ruffle my feathers.”
Practice Compassion. These may all seem like obvious ways to coach others to lessen their concerns, but when you are personally facing worry and stress, it isn’t the same. Life seems unfair, you feel drained and broken and nothing may seem like balm for your pain. “Our own self-talk is typically much less compassionate than how we offer support to others,” reminds Dr. Jarchow. “But self-compassion is key! If it’s difficult to find kind words ask yourself ‘what would I tell a friend if they were in this situation?’ and you will likely find a softer way to speak to yourself.” Don’t worry so much that the worry becomes a reality. Find ways to combat negative thoughts and create new positive habits and reach out to professionals when needed. Therapy can provide a welcome space for working through troubles and developing coping strategies.
“Stress and worry can often lead to shrinking your world in,” Dr. Jarchow says. “Sharing and allowing others to support you are helpful reminders that you are not alone. Asking for help is not a weakness—it takes courage.”
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.