Whip Worry Into Shape

Worry is a feeling that manifests when we fear that something will go wrong. We never worry something will go right – we worry because we fear the worst and feel no control over the outcome. It can manifest from factors we can clearly see, such as financial problems and bills left unpaid, but it can also occur purely from our own thoughts.

Despite the negative feeling that worry brings on, it can actually help you to figure things out in your mind so that you can plan effectively – so there is a benefit but only if you keep it to a minimum and then let the issue go. However, most of us don’t stop after the initial worrisome thought. The nature of the feeling is that the moment we think a fearful thought, more thoughts follow until before we know it, we are stressed and we start to feel physically ill. This is because excessive worry and stress releases the chemical adrenaline, which affects our digestive system. It can also cause headaches.

Sometimes worry can be confused with concern, but in fact they are separate things. Concern is when you think within the situation you are facing and are focused on the present moment. Worry is when you cannot relax because you are constantly stressing about what is about to happen, what could possibly happen. It is also personal to the individual and creates feelings of responsibility, as if you have a heavy weight on your shoulders. People may say to you, “Get over it” or “Just let it go, you’ll be fine,” but this rarely helps. It can actually make you feel worse, because it feels like no-one understands you and you are all alone – which is the opposite of what will make you feel better. So what do you do?

  • First, stop yourself. Whatever thought is stressing you out, tell yourself mentally to stop. Then, look at the situation as it stands. Identify what you fear the most and then write it down. If there is something else you fear, write that down too. Once you have the worries out of your head it will be easier to get some perspective and have a clearer head to think of solutions. Focusing on how you can sort out the issue is a much better way of dealing with things. You can even ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” and then once you have an answer, you can decide what to do to fix it.
  • Be clear about the facts. More often than not, things never turn out as bad as we expect them to in our heads. The mind loves to blow things out of proportion once the worrying cycle has started. Taking control of a situation takes away the bulk of the worry. If you are stressed about something that is yet to come, there is no point in worrying about it because it doesn’t solve anything if you are thinking in circles, coming up blank. Take the “what if” away, and try to imagine things going well. Having a sense of humour about the situation always helps too, so engage in some light-hearted fun with friends or family. Fun helps us realise what is important and what is not, and laughing will instantly make your mood soar. Having fun is one of the best ways to make worries vanish, if only temporarily. It will relax you, which allows solutions to come which you could never have thought of in the stressed mind-set.

Sometimes, nothing seems to work and you are stuck in the fear. This is when you must speak to somebody outside your situation. Ask a friend to listen to you, and then allow them to suggest solutions. Often talking it out with somebody is all we need. You may realise you have been worried over something that can easily be sorted. If not, you can perhaps start to figure out a clear plan to sort things out. If you can’t control the outcome at all, then the best thing to do is relax – worrying will drain you and it won’t solve the problem if it’s excessive. Take a walk, breathe deeply and let the worries float away. Go for a run or do another form of exercise and channel your fear into physical activity. Use your worry physically instead of emotionally. Often our thoughts travel so rapidly when we are stressed we feel anything but calm. This can lead to us feeling irritable and taking it out on others. But if you simply take the time to get some fresh air or get some wise advice from someone you trust, it can work wonders.

  • Decide not to fear the outcome. Decide to be calm. Although it may not seem like it at the time, worry is a choice. You can choose to stress over things or choose to stay calm and wait until you feel strongly about your next move. You can even choose a time of day and set that time aside to worry for five minutes, and then let it go for the rest of the day. You would be literally deciding “I’ll worry about it later”. This might prevent you from feeling fearful all the time, because you’ll have set aside a time to think. A little worry is fine, but too much is unhealthy both physically and emotionally. So make the decision to feel happy and say goodbye to the worry.