The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. ~ Buddha
“That was great for Buddha, he didn’t live today, when life is running at a breakneck pace and if I don’t anticipate and worry about tomorrow I won’t be successful!” How many times have you said that or something similar?
How much time do you spend worrying? I remember a time when worrying was a daily habit! Yep I did say habit, rarely a day passed when I didn’t worry about what would happen, or what had happened in the past. It affected my sleep and actually probably the quality of my life experiences at that time.
Are you a chronic worrier?
Chronic worrying can affect your work, appetite, sleep and in turn relationships, and as I found out quality of life.
The ‘Purpose Fairy’ , Luminita Saviuc writes a short wonderful piece about the two days ‘which should be kept free from fear and apprehension ‘. Those two days are Yesterday, “which is gone and past and there is nothing you can stop, change or rewrite”; the second is tomorrow which “is also beyond our immediate control”. You can read the article here: https://www.purposefairy.com/7950/live-in-the-present-let-go-of-the-past-dont-worry-about-the-future/
So the question is how can we control our thoughts, or rather how can we change how we think so as to think more positively? We’ve all heard of the fight or flight process coming from our days as hunter/gatherers, that is what occurs in our body when we live in a constant state of worry and/or anxiety.
What is worry or Anxiety
So what is ‘worry’? Worry is an anxious thought that looks into the future and imagines something going wrong, or looks to the past and cannot let go of the negative thoughts and ‘what if’s’ about different experiences.
You can get caught in the cycle of worry, and in extreme cases worry can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.
Worry actually is a habit, a thought pattern, and as with any habit we need to recognize it before we can change it.
We usually blame our worry on or because of other people or external things – if only they had; why does it always happen to me; or how will I ….. (fill in your own blank). We worry about job security, our children or elderly parents, I could go on.
We see these things as the cause of our worries. Our imagined future events that are yet to happen and yet our mind cannot tell the difference between now and the future and so the impact these thoughts have on our body is the same as if they are happening right now!
A worry or anxious thought is not an external circumstance, as we want to think, rather it’s an internal reaction, a thought pattern that occurs when we project into the future and imagine the future as a negative occurrence.
For many people the underlying cause of worry or anxiety is fear. And what does fear to us, it keeps us on edge! In constant state of stress which causes the body to release stress hormones such as cortisol and can as I said above can make us physically ill.
What to do with worry & Anxiety?
The key is to recognize what is happening, and catch yourself in the moment! Recently I was painting and reliving an old hurt, I stopped and thought about what was happening and I realized as I paint my house that I have a habit of doing exactly that – reliving old hurts – Ha! It was a revelation. By recognizing what is happening, you become present and now have a choice, either to wallow in it or let it go. If you decide to do the latter, focus on your breathing or what you’re doing in the moment, see the thought and let it go. It does gets easier with practice!
Now as I paint, I recognize the experience and watch it happening, acknowledge the hurt and move forward. I do the technique above and let the moment pass… I know this is my habit, and I’m working on it, continuing to live in the present – the past is gone, the future is unknown. I cannot control what will happen and so I take each day as it comes.
But what happens if you can’t do this, remember this is a habit, so what can you do to change. There’s a load of information on the internet about this, so I’ll give you a few things to try:
- Health check: Check with your physician to ensure that there is not anything health-wise that’s causing your feelings of anxiety/stress
- Try moving – if you don’t exercise or feel you don’t have time. Take a 15 minute break, I would suggest between work and home, or if that’s not possible, maybe if you are a parent taking kids to their various activities, rather than sitting and watching their practice, go for a walk. I did this, I went for a run. My kids knew it was for my own mental health. I was there for the important games, or tests, but for practices I could take time out for me and we were all healthier for it.
- Look at your diet, can you add more green, red, yellow or orange? Add more vegetables. Can you cut your sugar intake?
- Try to limit caffeine. I drink coffee, love my morning coffee, however I limit it to two small cups in the morning. Rarely do I have caffeine after noon. I drink water or herbal tea and often stop drinking both around 6:00 pm.
- Be aware of your worries, set time aside each day to look at your problems and fears, facing them straight on. I used to work on 15 minutes each day. Soon you may find that they don’t have such a hold on you. Some people wear
an elastic band that they pop when a worry comes up – I would suggest working to be aware of when a worry pops up, acknowledge it and then letting it go, even welcoming it with a ‘hello, you’re back!’
- Two other things to think about: Visit a therapist, they can help you identify the thoughts that cause anxiety for you and develop coping strategies to reduce them. Also look at your social circle, are there people there who are constantly negative – how do you feel when you leave. Sometimes we have to do a ‘friend’ wash, that is letting people go.
- Meditate – I love meditation, if fact I sit or lie down twice a day! Meditation allows me to stop and pay attention to right now. Most of the time I work on focusing on my breath, but other days, particularly evenings I use an App: Insight Timer which you can download. The basic version is free.
Whatever You Fight, You Strengthen, and What You Resist, Persists – Eckhart Tolle
Don’t struggle with your thoughts, try viewing them objectively and calmly. Look at it as ‘just a worry’, you can step back, and recognize it as ‘a thought’, not reality. ‘When you stop focusing on things that can wait to be done, it’ll take a huge weight off your shoulders’ Remember you cannot reshape the past, or predict the future – you only have control today, in the present moment. Seize each moment and love it! Remember you only have one life to live, live it to the fullest, make sure you laugh each day, be grateful for what you have and support those who are struggling. Give where you can, sometimes an ear or shoulder can make the world of difference for another. And if you would like support with your own ‘worrying’, why not set up a 30 minute free discovery call with us: