Category Archives: Anxiety

Not enough

Today, I woke up and thought, I didn’t get enough sleep. I got ready for the day, made breakfast, and ran out the door thinking, I don’t have enough time to get to work by 8:00am. Once I got to the office, I glanced at my schedule for the day and thought; I don’t have enough time in the workday to complete all of these tasks.

My common thought throughout this morning was “not enough.”

It’s really unfortunate that my first four hours of this beautiful Tuesday were spent feeling largely inadequate.

I recently read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, a researcher who focuses on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. This book resonated with me for a variety of reasons, but one idea in particular spiked my interest with its applicability into the context of relationships – the idea of “not enough.” Thinking back to my experience this morning, I’m sure you can relate, but I started wondering if others can relate to this feeling of inadequacy in their relationships?

I’m not successful enough.not enough

I’m not communicating enough.

I’m not attractive enough.

I’m not smart enough.

I don’t support my family enough.

I don’t encourage my husband enough.

These ideas infiltrate our minds through mainstream media and social media. We see couples romanticized in television episodes and idealized in #RelationshipGoals posts. Sometimes, we compare our relationship to past relationships or to a fantasied idea in our mind. We even compare our relationships to previous versions of themselves – which isn’t healthy either. If you are like me and sometimes feel like you are “not enough,” then you probably have spent some time comparing and contrasting your relationship and yourself.

Brené takes this idea of “not enough” and identifies three components: shame, comparison, and disengagement. She also provides hope – feeling “not enough” can be challenged with awareness, commitment, and work.

My husband and I are committed to our marriage and each other; we exemplify this by working on our relationship a lot – a perk of the job I suppose! In spite of that, I feel burdened by shame, comparisons, and disengagement. This burden translates to feeling “not enough.” From checking in regularly with my husband, I know, every so often, he feels this way too. What I’m realizing is that we need to focus more on being aware. We need to become more mindful of when we feel shame, over compare, and disengage.

If we become more aware, be vulnerable in the process, and knock out some of that “not enough” feeling, I know our relationship will be stronger.

How Anxiety Reduces Empathy

One afternoon in Dublin, I found myself running through the airport, convinced I was about to miss a flight for the first time in my life.

My anxiety surged at the sight of a long security line, but luckily an airport official ushered me to the front. I didn’t care how the waiting passengers felt about my preferential treatment, and I don’t remember much about the people I encountered during that nerve-wracking afternoon. I was thinking only about my goal: to get home.

In short, my empathy for others plummeted as my anxiety mounted—and a recent paper helps explain this phenomenon by linking anxiety to egocentrism. In doing so, it provides yet another reason why cultivating empathy is so crucial.

In a series of six studies with more than 1,300 total participants, researchers from universities including Harvard and Columbia induced anxiety, anger, disgust, surprise, or pride in participants by asking them to write about a past experience when they felt one of those emotions. (Some participants did nothing or wrote about how they typically spend their evenings, generating a neutral feeling.)

Then, participants were tested on perspective taking. In one study, they specified whether a book placed on their right side (but someone else’s left) was on the right or left side of a table. In another, they indicated the position of a green light from their perspective and someone else’s.

In a third, they had to figure out whether the recipient of an email would read it as sincere, when they had privileged information suggesting it was sarcastic. In yet another experiment, they read scenarios like the one below and filled in the blank as quickly as possible:

Anna made lasagna in the blue dish. After Anna left, Ian came home and ate the lasagna. Then he filled the blue dish with spaghetti and replaced it in the fridge. Anna thinks the blue dish contains (lasagna/spaghetti).

In these studies, participants who were feeling anxious or surprised were more likely to give the egocentric answer—or take longer to answer from someone else’s perspective—than those who were feeling angry, disgusted, proud, or neutral. In other words, the stressed people had trouble seeing things from another’s point of view: I know the blue dish contains spaghetti, so Anna must know, too. And the more anxious they were, the more egocentric they became. (On questions that didn’t involve perspective taking, they didn’t perform any worse than the other participants.)

The finding that anxiety and surprise increased egocentrism was, well, surprising—particularly when the self-focused emotion of pride did not.

Why was this happening? The researchers found a clue in a final pair of studies: Participants were also more egocentric after induced to feel uncertain, and surprise and anxiety are both associated with uncertainty. While anger makes us certain in our righteous indignation, anxiety and surprise make us unsure of what’s going on and what will happen next. And when we feel uncertain, we tend to fall back on what we know to be true—namely, our own perspectives and feelings.

Although Anna’s lasagna might not seem particularly relevant in the grand scheme of things, these findings point to a disturbing possibility. If our stress-filled lives generate more moments of anxiety, that means our perspective taking is routinely compromised—and with it, part of our ability to empathize and connect with others.

Now more than ever, we need to train our empathy muscles. Consider trying these science-based practices, particularly if you’re prone to anxiety:

  • Active Listening: Listen better and express active interest in your conversational partner, making them feel heard and understood.
  • Shared Identity: Think of someone who is very different from you, and then try to imagine all the ways that you two are similar—seeing them as an individual, not an out-group member.
  • Mindful Breathing: Focus attention on your own breathing to cultivate awareness.

That day in Dublin, I caught my flight. I also learned a lesson in empathy. No one wants to live life as if they’re constantly late for a plane, too stressed to look around and connect with others. We’re much better off cultivating empathy, building connection, and accepting that what will be, will be—missed flights and all.

This article generated controversy among our readers on social media. Read about it and gain more context for this study in “What is the Relationship Between Stress and Empathy?”

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Get Unstuck!

shutterstock_139305425-w~ by Terri Mudge ~

Learning to Let Go of the Thoughts that Torture Us

Our brains are amazing. All day long we can be thinking, planning, evaluating, wishing, wondering, working, trying, and noticing. All this activity going on in our heads, invisible to others, can be good or bad.  What do you do when you have negative thinking that randomly appears and it won’t go away?

Those thoughts rumble through our minds. We may have had these thoughts before. They wake us up in the middle of the night. They catch our attention in the middle of the day, when we are trying to focus on an important task or just trying to enjoy a pleasant moment.

What happens when our brains don’t seem to be going in the direction that we want them to?  What happens when it seems to get ‘stuck’ in a thinking loop, stuck in judging, stuck in wishing, stuck in trying, or like a broken record – stuck with the same song playing over and over again?   This is when our minds can cause us a lot of distress.

Maybe I can help! Here are four things we can do to help ourselves, to help our mind to get un-stuck from its distressed state of mind and a few things NOT to do.

How to Get UnStuck

#1  Tune into the senses  
You can pause, take a moment to connect with the world through your senses – seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing.  One way to do this is to take a mindful walk, and notice all of the sights and sounds that you can notice.

#2  Find a Different Perspective
Open up to the possibility that your negative thoughts may look different from a different perspective.  For example, how will this particular event/situation/perception change over time? Will it look the same in 3 months or 3 years?

#3  Give Yourself Permission to Worry – Once
Worry well, and worry once. Give yourself permission to worry for a given amount of time. And, really do a good job of it.  Put all your attention to the task of worrying about your particular dilemma.  Write down all the possible scenarios that could happen, and all the ways that this situation is distressing to you. Do a good job of getting all of your thoughts down on paper. Then, when your time is up, go and do something else. If the thought comes up again, say, “Oh, I already worried about that, I am finished with that one.”  (This idea comes from my favorite anxiety self-help book: The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques, by Margaret Wahrenberger, August 11, 2008)

#4  Distract Yourself
Think of that list of the many things the mind can do. Find something else to ask your mind to do instead of being stuck in these negative thoughts.

3 Things NOT to do.

#1  Don’t Keep Trying to Figure It Out
The mind has a habit of trying to solve problems and that’s what it was designed to do. The problem is, if you’ve already written down your thoughts and spent time seeking different perspectives, you have already spent plenty of time on this. It is now time to stop. Trying to find more possible solutions is not working. So don’t do it. It’s not that it’s the wrong thing to do, it’s just not productive.

#2  Don’t Think Positively.
Ok, I know, thinking positively is usually a good thing. I love to look for the bright side of something, but if you have already been trying that and it’s not working for you, then give it a rest. It may be just one more way that your mind is stuck.

#3  Don’t Try to Forget About It
Yes, forgetting seems like a logical strategy. However, this one can definitely backfire on you. Have you heard about the white bear experiment? This and many other studies have showed that the more you try not to think about something, you set yourself up to think of it even more. So let the thought be there, and try to create a different relationship to the thought. Open yourself to the fact that your mind doesn’t have all the answers. Acknowledge that it is OK to have this thought and it is OK that right now you don’t know what to do about it.

We all get stuck sometimes in our thinking. It happens to everyone. The most important thing to remember is that these thoughts will eventually go away. Believe that and keep on going.

It’s okay to let your mind wander toward thinking, planning, evaluating, wishing, wondering, working, trying, or noticing. We can recognize the random nature of the mind, there are so many possibilities!


The Expectation Filter

Let’s say there’s going to be a party.

Expectation A: You’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, building it up to epic proportions in your mind. All of your friends are going to be there, you’ll get to wear that new outfit, and it’s at that new, trendy place in town so the food, drinks, and ambience will be fantastic!

Let’s say there’s going to be a party.

Expectation B: You’ve been dreading it for weeks, wishing you could come up with a plausible excuse to get out of it. You probably won’t know anyone, you have nothing to wear, and it’s at that new, trendy place in town so it will probably be crowded, expensive, and parking will be terrible.

Reality: So the party was last night. Some of your friends were there, but a few didn’t make it. No one seemed too preoccupied with attire—some people dressed up and some didn’t. You were a few minutes late trying to find a parking spot, but you found one relatively close by. The food and drinks were moderately priced and relatively tasty, but nothing exceptional.

Based on the two sets of expectations above, how do you think you’d feel about the party at the end of the night?

The party was what it was. You couldn’t control how it turned out simply because of what you expected from it, and it didn’t change itself to match or defy your own expectations. Instead, your expectations affected how you perceived the quality of the party and your overall experience.

Now think about your relationship with your partner. Have you ever let unrealistic expectations influence your perception of him/her or of the relationship itself?  Whether they are expectations that we set explicitly or the ones that creep in subconsciously, unrealistic (and/or uncommunicated) expectations not only prevent us from experiencing things as they are, but they also distract us from truly appreciating the good in a situation. You might fail to appreciate the thought and effort your partner put into cooking dinner just because it didn’t turn out perfectly, or overlook the fact that you can still talk late into the night because you still bicker about those certain topics. Perhaps you take for granted the way your partner always remembers to buy your favorite cereal because he/she still leaves the dishes in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher.

Many times I have found myself getting angry or upset with my spouse, only to realize that the true reason for my feelings was that the expectations I had created in my mind had not been met. Of course, being that I’d never actually communicated these expectations to my husband, let alone based them in reality, it would be unfair to be angry with him as a result. I’m a person who likes things to go the way I plan, and when that plan is diverged from, I tend to get irritated. But this is on me, not on him. I am definitely not perfect, but I’ve learned to check myself before blurting out a knee-jerk reaction of annoyance. By remembering to remove my “expectation filter,” I can better appreciate my reality.

Get to the Root of Work Stress

By Leo Babauta

There isn’t a working person among us who doesn’t deal with stress — whether you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, working for a struggling startup, or clocking in working for a company, work stress is inevitable.

But where does this stress originate, and how do we deal with it?

Most guides to stress will give you some actions to take: exercise, sleep well, eat right, meditate, and do some yoga at your desk. These are all amazing, and you should do them.

However, I’m more interested in getting at the root of stress. Dig down, ferret out the cause, and work with that directly, rather than treating the symptoms. Only once you deal with the cause of stress can you truly be a master of it.

Cause of Stress

Let’s take a look at some things you might be stressed about at work:

  • Hard deadlines
  • Difficult co-workers or boss
  • Uncertainty about your job
  • Uncertainty about whether you can succeed at this project
  • Competition, office politics, interpersonal conflicts
  • Not having enough time for family or personal life
  • Being overwhelmed by too much to do

There are many more possibilities, but these are a good sampling. In all these examples, the cause is really the same thing:

We are attached to how we want things to be. We have an ideal about how each of these situations should be, and our clinging to this ideal is causing the stress.

Let’s take the uncertainty about the job. Of course, that’s not ideal, we would rather have a stable job that we don’t have to worry about. So reality is not matching our ideal (a stable job), and that causes us stress. We don’t like the present situation, and this not wanting uncertainty is causing us to stress out.

The same is true of each of the above examples — when a co-worker is not meeting our ideal, when we have an ideal that we won’t have too much to do, when our ideal of having easy-to-meet deadlines isn’t being met … we get stressed.

Unfortunately, this happens all day long, every day. Our ideals about reality are constantly not being met, and so we stress out. It builds up. It becomes a health problem.

So what’s the way to deal with this? Let’s take a look.

Dealing with the Cause of Stress

If our attachment to an ideal is the cause of our stress, then can we just not have ideals? Well, that would be ideal, perhaps, but no, I’ve found it impossible to not have ideals. The ideals come up, unbidden, in our active and ever hopeful minds.

The way to deal with the cause of stress is to 1) notice that you’re feeling stress or frustration, 2) mindfully notice your attachment to an ideal, and 3) loosen the attachment, finding love for the actual reality of the present moment.

Let’s look at these in turn.

First, you have to notice the stress. Learn to see your frustration or worry about something as a signpost, a flag that tells you what’s going on. In this way, stress becomes a positive thing, because it’s letting you know that something is going on. It’s like a notification system on your phone — instead of ignoring the notifications, as we usually do (we don’t like to think about stress), we can mindfully drop into ourselves and deal with it.

Next, you have to mindfully notice your attachment to the ideal. That means dropping in and saying, “Hey, things are meeting my ideal and it’s stressing me out — what’s my ideal?” It’s probably something that is more secure, stable, comfortable, controlled than what you’re currently experiencing.

For example, if you’re overwhelmed by too much work, your ideal is probably that you have a very controlled, comfortable amount of work, and that you’re on top of it all. That would feel much more secure, stable, comfortable to you.

Unfortunately, comfort and control and security aren’t what life provides us. It mostly provides us the very opposite — something chaotic, unpredictable, uncomfortable, unstable. And we can be upset by this, or we can embrace it. We can hate all of this about life, or we can love it. This is a choice.

Finally, we can loosen our attachment to this expectation or ideal. We can say, “This ideal is not helping me. Clinging to wanting things this way is actually harming me. I hereby open my heart to many more possibilities.”

That means we can be open to a less-than-ideal co-worker, who isn’t perfect and is struggling with his issues. We can be open to loving having too much work, more than we can possibly do, and having to prioritize and just focus on the important stuff for now. We can be open to the possibility that we’ll do poorly, or lose our jobs, because even then we’ll figure something out and life will be just fine.

Loosening our attachments is about realizing that life doesn’t have to be one way, our way, that we can be open to life’s way. It’s about learning to love everything, shit and all. It’s about being curious about life, about others, instead of judging life and other people as bad.

And then it’s about working from this place of peace and love. Have too much to do? Pick one task, and do your best with it. Have an annoying co-worker? Find compassion for her struggles, and be curious about what she’s going through, and talk to her compassionately and empathetically about your conflict with her. Worried about losing your job? Focus on doing your best, while preparing yourself for the possibility that you might need to find another job.

Many people won’t like this solution, because it means that they don’t get the ideals they want. Most of us want to control life to be the way we want. And that’s fine, if it works for you.

What I’m suggesting is being open to the many other possibilities, opening your heart to what life offers instead of what you want it to offer, being curious about what’s really in front of you rather than judgmental, and learning to love everything as it is.

Nature – The Best Kept Secret – It’s Better Than Drugs

023By Terri Mudge

Nature is Captivating!

I have been captivated by the power of nature! When I stumbled on some research that proved its power in restoring our wellbeing, I paid attention. Here’s what I found.

Studies at a hospital in Pennsylvania from 1972-81 generated some interesting data about the power of nature. Identical hospital rooms on either side of the building were the same except the view from the windows–one side faced a brick wall, while the other side faced a small stand of trees.  Over many years, the patients facing the natural environment required less pain medication and recovered a day sooner than those facing the brick wall. Patients gazing out at a natural scene were four times better off than their counterparts!

In another study, psychologists studied a group of parents living with their children in upstate New York. While many of the families experienced hardships and stresses when their children were growing up, those that lived in more natural environments seemed to withstand stresses better and show a higher level of self-esteem and lower stress.

Another study asked hundreds of parents of children with ADD (attention deficit disorder), again and again reports showed that those playing outside in nature or even simply viewing nature from inside, were happier and more likely to interact with friends.

Nature Draws Us In

What is it about the natural environment? How does this work? William James, an early psychologist from the 1800s explained “involuntary attention” as something that gets our attention without any mental effort on our part. Our natural environment is full of things that capture our attention involuntarily, such as water rippling in the wind, breezes blowing clouds across the sky and ocean currents sending waves ashore. And this restores us! In the same way food and water restore our bodies, we can benefit from nature restoring our mental functioning that takes a beating in everyday life.

Nature Restores Us

Psychologists refer to this as the “Attention Restoration Theory” (ART).  One article by Adam Alter explains it this way:

“According to ART, urban environments are draining because they force us to direct our attention to specific tasks (e.g., avoiding the onslaught of traffic) and grab our attention dynamically, compelling us to “look here!” before telling us to instead “look over there!” These demands are draining — and they’re also absent in natural environments.”

Our natural environments demand nothing and yet they are ever-changing. When they move and shift, they grab our attention, require nothing, and provide an opportunity to restore our exhausted minds. Let’s challenge each other to take some time out this week to spend a couple hours with nature without any agenda of doing anything specific or urgent. Just be. Just soak it in and take note of how it changes your mood and mindset.

Prescription For Nature - Video Screenshot

Posted by 4biddenknowledge on Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Source: Alter, Adam. “DailyGood: How Nature Resets Our Minds and Bodies.” DailyGood: How Nature Resets Our Minds and Bodies. DailyGood, 29 Mar. 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

A Roadmap to Overcoming Insecurities

By Leo Babauta

There isn’t a person amongst us who doesn’t have insecurities — some are just better at dealing with them, or perhaps hiding them.

We worry what other people think about us, we worry if we’re good-looking enough, we worry that we’re not doing all that we should be, we worry that we’ll fail, we worry that people will find out we’re a fraud. We worry that we’re too fat, worry if she’ll like us, worry if he likes that other girl, worry that we’re not good enough.

And social media, with its culture of getting us to want approval with likes and retweets, with its showing off amazing bodies and amazing travels and food … it only exacerbates the problem. But you know all this.

The question is: how do we overcome these insecurities?

How do we become OK with ourselves? How do we learn to find contentment and peace?

The answer isn’t simple, but it requires one thing to start with: a willingness to face what we usually don’t want to face.

That means a bit of courage. Just in small doses, to start with, but it means a willingness to set aside all the distractions for a little bit, and just focus on what you’re struggling with.

Do you have that courage? If so, let’s start.

The Obstacles

What gets in our way to dealing with insecurities? There are obstacles littering the path. There are old wounds that have never healed.

Some of the obstacles that get in the way:

  1. Past criticisms. If a parent or other relatives criticized us while we were growing up, or if we were bullied, we’ve probably internalized that. I’m lucky that my mom always seemed to accept me as I was, but my dad didn’t. He had his own insecurities, but those would manifest as criticisms of me. Those criticisms stay in my head, but have died down in recent years because of work that I’ve done (more on this below). Still, they may never completely go away.
  2. A negative self-image. When people criticize you over the years, you start to criticize yourself. And all this criticism, along with unfavorable comparisons of yourself to others, results in a self-image that isn’t so great. It doesn’t matter if the reality doesn’t meet this self-image … we can be competent, brilliant, and beautiful, but if we have an image of ourselves that is ugly, dumb, and a failure, we will act according to that image.
  3. Needing approval. When someone gives us approval, that’s great! We feel we are worthy, and beautiful. But the problem then becomes that we need more approval to keep this self-image, and we fear not getting the approval because then this great self-image will go away. We become stuck in a cycle of needing constant approval, and fearing disapproval. We read into everything that everyone says and does, in real life and on social media, in terms of approval or disapproval. This becomes a fearful cycle of need.
  4. Lack of trust. We learn not to trust other people to stick with us, to accept us, to see our side of things as understandable. This is trained in us over the years as people do things that we think of as abandonment or rejection. We stop trusting in the moment to turn out alright.
  5. Images in social media & the media. We compare ourselves to the hot people we see on Instagram or other social media. We compare ourselves with the hot people in movies, TV, magazines. These images are meant to sell us, but the way they sell us is by making us feel insecure about ourselves, and then needing whatever it is that the celebrities are selling us in order for us to be as good as them.
  6. Not accepting things about ourselves. In the end, the result is that we reject large parts of ourselves. We don’t like that we are overweight, or have pimples, or something about our bodies. It’s amazing, because even people you think have amazing bodies — they reject things about their bodies! We also reject parts of our inner selves, the parts that are undisciplined or uncaring or fearful or lazy. We reject the parts of ourselves that are insecure.

Those are a lot of obstacles to deal with! And that highlights why this takes courage, and why the fix isn’t simple.

But there is a way forward.

The Road to Dealing with Insecurity

Here’s the secret: The obstacles actually show us the path. The obstacles are the path.

We can embrace these obstacles and work with them. In order to do that, we need to start to develop an awareness of when our insecurities are arising. We can use them as a mindfulness bell, ringing when we are troubled by fears and mistrust, telling us, “Hey! There’s so good material to work with here.”

And that’s they key: All of our insecurities are actually an opportunity to do some good work, to learn about how we work, to develop skills that will help us for life.

So start to pay attention, and notice when you’re being driven by insecurity. And then do the following work:

  1. Forgive the past. If your insecurities have been shaped by a relative or authority figure criticizing you, recognize this. Then start to forgive them. Understand that they were driven by their own insecurities, struggling with their own demons. They behave imperfectly, but we all do. They weren’t right in what they did, but you can understand it nonetheless. And forgive them for their bad behavior, because holding on to resentment isn’t helping you. Let the past go, one step at a time.
  2. Accept all of yourself. Pause and take a self-assessment. Notice the parts of yourself, both your body and your inner self, that you don’t like. Take a look at these parts of you, and see if you can send them love. See them for the imperfect parts of you that they are, deserving of love as a friend who is imperfect also deserves love. Think about how you’d treat this imperfect friend, and be the same way toward yourself. Give yourself assurance, give yourself compassion. Embrace all the parts of you, nobbly bits and all, and see the beauty in them. They are what make you who you are, and they are wonderful.
  3. Practice self-approval. If you notice yourself wanting someone else’s approval, their praise and attention, their likes and retweets … pause, and instead replace that with self-approval. You can take away the power of others to approve you if you appropriate that power for yourself. You don’t need anyone else’s approval but your own. That doesn’t mean you don’t want connection with others, or love, but you can love others and be loved by them while also being self-approved. Accept yourself, completely, love yourself. And that’s all you need.
  4. Embrace non-comparison. Comparison of yourself with how others look, what they’re doing, where they’re traveling, how much fun they’re having … it’s never a useful comparison, and it actively harms you. Instead, when you see someone else, instead of comparing yourself with them, see them as apples to your oranges. Be happy that they’re having fun, be joyful for their successes. They’re on a completely different path from you, and they can be happy and have a great time and you can too, on your own path. Wish everyone well, but see their awesomeness as different from yours.
  5. Develop trust in the moment. Through all these practices, start to develop a trust in yourself that you’ll be OK. Develop a trust in the moment that it will unfold and all will be well. This develops over time, by making small predictions about the moment (“This moment will turn out OK”) and then seeing if the prediction comes true.

This is the path. You find the things you’re struggling with, and learn to work with them. Learn to shift your perspective. Learn to see what’s tripping you up, and turn it into an opportunity to practice new skills.

This is a good path. It has helped me to be more accepting of myself, and trust myself more. And in turn, it has helped me to love myself and others more, one moment at a time.

5 Simple Steps to Stop Worrying from Ruining Your Day

Don'tPanicI found a great resource for tackling this problem and I will summarize it here. Be sure to read the full article linked below.

Do you find it hard to stop worrying?

There is only one type of helpful worrying: the kind that causes you to take action to solve a problem. If your worrying sticks around too long, it can have some devastating effects.

What about you? Are your “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios sapping your emotional energy, sending your anxiety levels soaring, or interfering with your daily life?

Here are some strategies that I use to keep worry at bay. The good news is, “chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more positive perspective.

Stop Worrying Step 1: Create a worry period

It may seem odd, but setting a date in your mind for your time to worry, can be really helpful. For example, give yourself permission to “worry” for 30 minutes in the middle of the day. Not too late at night to interfere with sleep and late enough that you can have several worries to evaluate during your 30 minutes. Try jotting down on a note pad every worry that comes to mind throughout the day and pull out this list during your official 30 minutes.

Stop Worrying Step 2: Ask yourself if the problem is solvable

If you are worrying about something you can do something about, start brainstorming ideas and ways to solve the problem. For example, if you are worried about paying for your child’s college tuition, make a simple list of things you can do about it, like contact my CPA for investment options, research scholarships, etc.

If you are a chronic worrier and your thoughts have taken over on things you cannot control, it is time to take a deep look at your emotions. From “While you’re worrying, your feelings are temporarily suppressed, but as soon as you stop, the tension and anxiety bounces back. And then, you start worrying about your feelings, “What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t feel this way!” Start to acknowledge that emotions are OK. It is ok to feel anger or fear. Sometimes your feelings don’t have to make sense.

Stop Worrying Step 3: Accept uncertainty

The first step here is to realize that there are going to be things that happen that are unpredictable. Chronic worriers spend so much time worrying about what terrible thing might happen they fail to enjoy the present where all is good and safe. Instead of worrying, pause and consider if you have an overwhelming need for certainty and immediate answers and why.

Stop Worrying Step 4: Challenge anxious thoughts

Chronic worriers also have a tendency to have thoughts and worst-case scenarios that are more severe than could truly occur. Face your anxious thoughts head on and ask yourself: is this true or not true; is there a more positive way to look at the situation, or what are the likely outcomes—could one of them be more realistic?

Stop Worrying Step 5: Practice mindfulness

One of my favorite topics: Mindfulness! Yes, worry is focused on the future, the what ifs and what might happens. Mindfulness takes some practice, but the benefits are many. You will enjoy what you have in the here and now much more and will be less inclined to worry about things you cannot change.

Try practicing Mindfulness now. I have just released a new 4-minute meditation that I hope you will find beneficial.

Doing my best to Live Life On Purpose…

Terri Mudge

SOURCE: “How to Stop Worrying.” : Self-Help for Anxiety Relief. Accessed January 14, 2016. Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: January 2016