• Brent Woods, MA, LPC

Stopping the worry--How thats easier said than done--and tips on how to worry less



WHAT IS WORRY?


Worry is something that we all do. Not one person that reads this article will be immune to worry. Yes, some people worry "more", but overall, we all worry to some extent. Sometimes we worry about how much money we have in the bank account, or we worry about what clothes we will wear.

The dictionary defines worry as: allowing one's mind to dwell on difficulty or struggles.

Worry can be compared to the picture above...you can look at what is in the glass orb. Focus only on what is in the view of the orb and let your stress overwhelm you. But what are you missing? Everything on the outside the orb. Worry narrows our focus so that we cannot see the positive things that are happening around us. We only focus on the negative things that we usually cannot control, and fail to concentrate on the things we can.


Something that is very common within the realm of Alcoholics Anonymous, which hinges on 12 steps to sober living, is a common prayer that is said before every meeting called the serenity prayer. It goes as follows:


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.By acknowledging that we need to accept the things we cannot change and asking for courage to change the things we can directly relates to worry. If we constantly worry about things that are out of our control, what comes of it? Usually nothing good...

So here are some tips for stopping the worry!

1. HIT THE BRAKESIf you find yourself in a place where you recognize you are spending too much time worrying, take a few minutes to try and detach yourself from the situation or circumstances to get your thoughts straight. Spend some time engaging in prayer or mediation. Prayer and meditation is one of the most helpful tools to help reduce worry in daily life. It hinges on the aspect of surrendering the issue, and admitting you are not in control. Engage in some deep-breathing exercises or take a walk.Getting some fresh air may be the thing you need. Utilize deep breathing as a tool, while engaging in meditation. Breath in through your nose with as much air as you can hold, hold it for about 2 seconds, and then release through your mouth. Imagine yourself blowing a bubble out of a bubble wand. This technique may seem elementary, but I guarantee if you try it, it will usually help with decreasing anxiety. 2. BE IN THE HERE AND NOWWe usually worry about things that have not yet happened, or we focus on things from the past, such as saying things we wish we could take back, or regretting poor decisions. We lose focus on the HERE AND NOW in life. We can only control what happens in this very moment. For me, I usually do not know what the entire day will look like at its end, and it usually never goes as I envision in my head.3. TALK ABOUT ITNot everyone needs to go to therapy to work on excessive worry and anxiety. One of the best things you can do in the process of letting worry go is talk about it with someone. A best friend, spouse, pastor would be more than willing to help you process the situation at hand. Often we hold the worry in, because we think that "no one will care" or everyone has "their own issues to worry about". While that may be true, we aren't meat to do life alone. We have to support one another through the tough times, and by going to others in a time of need, we deepen our relationships with others. 4. WRITE IT DOWNI'm a huge advocate for journaling, as it has so many benefits to "get things out" on paper that are just hard to articulate in words. When writing, you use a different part of your brain to communicate your thoughts and emotions. Some recommendations are to write daily in your journal, make a worry list to share with your partner or best friend, and review that list while you are in a period of excessive worry.

Worry can be very complicated if we make it, but in reality, it is simple. Worry happens when we excessively ruminate on what we cannot control. Therefore, I leave you with the following question....What are you worrying about that you need to let go?


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