Most of us, at one time or another, will worry. Whether we worry about something minor, such as meeting a deadline, or we worry about something more life-changing, such as finding a job so that we can pay our bills, worry is part of every day life. For the most part, a certain level of worry and anxiety is healthy and helps us deal with challenges that require our attention to get ourselves into a place that is more safe, more stable or more emotionally balanced. All of that said, too much worry or anxiety can cause undue stress and too much stress can negatively impact our health in both the short- and long-term.
As a result, it is best to deal with worry and anxiety in a constructive way so as to reduce and manage the stress it causes. Here’s how:
- Pinpoint the Cause. Something triggers our anxiety and gives us reason to worry. Identifying the source of your concern will help you to evaluate what would be a constructive reaction or way to handle the situation.
- Journal Your Concerns. Once you have identified the cause of your worry, you should take a few minutes to journal your feelings. Ask yourself some of the following questions: Why am I worried about this situation? Has something happened in the past that is causing me to worry about this situation? What are my biggest fears? What outcome would be optimal? What would be a worst-case scenario? How will the worst-case scenario impact me and/or my family? Although talking to others about your concerns can be helpful, free-flow journaling helps you to tap into your sub-conscious, where some of your deepest concerns reside. This will help you to understand where the source of your fears are coming from and whether or not they are based on your current situation or rooted in fears from your past.
- Assess the Validity of Your Fears. Once you have documented your feelings and concerns, take a moment and assess their validity. Are they based in reality? Do they directly impact your life? Are you blowing a situation out of proportion? Are all of your fears hypothetical or are they based on real experience? Asking these questions will help you assess how much of your fears are based on realistic concerns and how much are built out of fear itself.
- Assess Your Ability to Control the Situation. Once you assess how much of your fears are reality based, you then need to decipher whether or not there is something you can actively do to address the situation. Is any part of the situation under your control? If no part of the situation is under your control, acknowledge that and find ways to let go (see #6). If, however, there is a part of the situation that you can control, think about the various ways you can address it and how you can best alleviate your anxiety.
- Take Action. It is now time to take action. If your solution requires several steps, then set a goal and make a plan with deadlines. Taking action moves us from a mode of fear and the role of “victim” into a mode of “action” and into the driver’s seat.
- Let Go. Once you have taken action, and there is nothing more you can do to help the situation, let go. At this point, worrying won’t make anything different…or for that matter…better. A few ways to let go of any remaining feelings of anxiety include: focusing on something else, spending time with others, meditating, listening to music and exercising.
As mentioned earlier, worry and anxiety is natural and a normal part of life. If, however, you find yourself worried on a constant basis, you may want to seek professional help or guidance. A resource you might want to look at is anxieties.com.
How do you deal with your anxieties?