Many of us have made a practice of worrying. Even if we know it is not serving us any purpose, we cannot stop worrying. We think about what happened yesterday and we are convinced it is a sign of horrible things that will happen tomorrow. To be free from the pain and stress of worrying, we need to live one day at a time.
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”Leo F. Buscaglia
Some worrying is a natural part of being human. We may worry about our finances, or the health of our loved ones. If these anxieties become persistent or uncontrollable, that is when worrying can be problematic. The important thing is to not let the anxiety take control of your emotional and physical health.
When you feel yourself becoming anxious, take some time to challenge yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
- Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
- What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen? If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
- Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
- What would I say to a friend who had this worry?
There are steps you can take right now to interrupt all those anxious thoughts and give yourself a time out from relentless worrying.
- Get up and get moving. Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment because it releases endorphins which relieve tension and stress, boost energy, and enhance your sense of well-being.
- Take a yoga or tai chi class. By focusing your mind on your movements and breathing, practicing yoga or tai chi keeps your attention on the present, helping to clear your mind and lead to a relaxed state.
- Meditate. Meditation works by switching your focus from worrying about the future or dwelling on the past to what’s happening right now. By being fully engaged in the present moment, you can interrupt the endless loop of negative thoughts and worries.
- Practice progressive muscle relaxation. By alternately tensing and then releasing different muscle groups, you release muscle tension in your body. And as your body relaxes, your mind will follow.
- Try deep breathing. When you worry, you become anxious and breathe faster, often leading to further anxiety. But by practicing deep breathing exercises, you can calm your mind and quiet negative thoughts.
- Talk about it. Choose someone you can depend on to share your feelings. When considering who to turn to, ask yourself whether you tend to feel better or worse after talking to this person about a problem.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”Winston Churchill
The one thing we can learn from this pandemic is that our future is not guaranteed to us. All we really have is today. Do not let yourself be swamped by thoughts of things that are past. Do not concern yourself about tomorrow until it becomes your today. We can work in this 24 hours and make it the best day possible given our circumstances. The better we use today, the more likely it is that tomorrow will be bright.