How to train your brain stop worrying?
This is the 137 times you walk forth and back in the hallway tonight... but still... you got no plan to stop... just because of that uneasy, distress and anxious feeling continuously creeping in...
Worrying is one of our human experiences(and it's pretty much default), which mean everyone experiences from time to time. Worrying can be seen as a form of thinking about future events that leave you feeling anxious and alarmed.
Is worry = evil emotion? Just like the other emotion, they all here serve their purpose. Here is what worry works. Imagine you driving a car, and your brain tells you, "I might hit the other car", and you picture yourself bumped in the other car. But the thought reminds you to be extra careful about coming traffic and focus on the road, which is a helpful thought. However, when anxiety been intensified, you mind experience that image, as you will crash instead of you "might" hit the car in front. That pictures in your mind eye active the feeling and your brain think this is the reality you experience, your body gets into the fight or flight mode and the nervous system tighten, stay alert and help you prepare something "BIG" happen. In fact, well-managed worry has its upside on some level, such as:
Showing you are a caring person/parents/partners
Showing something that you should be prepared
Helping you to prevent crisis and think solutions ahead
Prevents terrible things from happening
We all might hear of thoughts create emotion, neuropsychologist Dr Shannon Irvine once said in her research. "Thought fires before emotion, then your brain connects. You repeat that link enough, and it starts running automatically", and this explains why we feel negative emotions when we think negatively. More importantly, it also explains why some of us seem to have worry thoughts "always", "naturally". I encourage you to ask yourself: Am I repeat that worry link too much, and it starts running automatically now?
But DON'T PANIC! I will share 9 tips you can keep on your sleeve for keeping your worries under control. Ready!? Let's START
1. Stay Focused on What You Can Control Don't mix up your rumination with your problem-solving. Thinking of the problem or problem base solution will drain your energy, only suck you deeper into the problem(And the state you don't want to be in). Alternatively, ask ourself "This situation sucks, but let's have a look at what I can do and what I learn from it." Simply says, the thing you can control is - yourself. Your attitude, Your actions and your energy. The things you can't control? You can influence it. Let say you are desperately looking for a job, and the focus is not on 'what will happen if you stay out of employment. Because you have already know your actual reality and acknowledge the consequence, focus on the problem can't take you out of the problem. Focus on your attitude, like showing your best self in interviews, be open with opportunities; Focus on your actions like research the company you interviewing, refining your resume, upgrade yourself keep up the market trend; Focus on your energy, like keeping yourself in a good mindset, being positive, and showing up with confidence. It that means you will definitely get hired by that company? No! But you have done your bit, and focusing on what you can control is the only way to influence the final outcome.
2. Accept the things you can't control One of the big reasons we worry is that we focus on problems beyond our ability to solve or things we can't control. Accepting the fact that you can't control everything will make your shoulder and your head lighter. For example, you are planning your weekend trips, and you worry about the forecast. Of course, it will have possibilities for storms and rain, but you can be flexible and have a plan b on hand, which will ease your worries.
3. Remember that your thoughts are not the ultimate facts Worry and anxiety try to protect us from pain, danger and discomfort, but the worries are often more than erroneous or exaggerated. "How is holding this worry interfering with the things you enjoy?" "How much mental effort, time and energy does this thought occupied my day?" By asking yourself the two questions above can give you some insight to mindfully choose what you could be focusing on or doing instead. Be clear on the values, then take steps to do what brings you joy will reduce your emotional distress.
4. In the present moment. There's nothing wrong to think about the past from time to time, especially if you think about something that sparks and moves you. But, spending too much time in the past can cause some problems. If you've gone through some unpleasant experience in the past, it can cause you to relive the event and cause anxious feelings. Or you think of an old event you once felt worried about, and then you find that you feel anxious all over again each time you replay that in your head. "Not the past, not the future, life is NOW" - by Rickson Gracie By worrying about the future, you are actually wasting the time that you can enjoy now. I've learned a big lesson on this. I was worry that I would die young after witness 4 family members passing while I was 15.
I spend a good 4 years afterwards worrying about terrible things happening instead of enjoying what life has to offer. How many things do you miss out on when you are not living in the NOW? The best thing you can do is to focus your time and energy on the present, where you have the power to decide what you can control, what works for you and what you want to do. Live LIFE to the max
5. Let go of being in control Let's admit we all at least once experience - want to keep everything in control. We want everything outlined carefully and follow what has been planned (with no room for flexibility. )
When things do not go as we pictured, we get to freak out, react, angry because we think the rest will follow a chain of domino effects and become so messy. Because of that worry, we even start controlling how people act, behave and do certain things and certain thinking. But let's be honest to yourself, you know this is impossible. We can never take control of everything and insist on wanting to control create a massive conflict within and resentment to others. When you overpower the worry, holding the thought you don't like, and your body responds to it - by struggling physically to control and escape from the situation. End up this intensifies the thought you initially don't want it. Stop overpower the worry. One thing you can do is to interrupt the patterns. Caught yourself on the spot and allowed acceptance and mindfulness to enter. Nature shows us many examples of how things can be out of human control, and the realization comes from knowing we are not in charge of the universe and willing to adapt, then we will have fewer lessons in life to worry.
6. Worry Journaling Writing and journaling is an excellent practice to calm your nerves and provides you with some solutions along the way. Journalling is a proven method that helps reduce the unsettling feeling, lessen the feeling of distress and increase your overall well-being. I will be showing more detailed steps in the next blog post, but follow an easy way to start for you to get the hang of it. Write your worries -> Reread and Re-Think -> Think in the other angle -> Recall the powerful you in the past -> Consider a plan -> Decide how to be prepare.
7. Perspective changing "Where your focus goes, the energy flows", and this explained wherever we put our attention, we direct our energy there. By understanding that, you can choose to focus on positive rather than negative thoughts. And when you put yourself in a positive, resourceful state (not problem-oriented), you can create more positive outcomes. Be optimistic, train your brain to be calm and see things from a different perspective, and the more positive you are, the more positive result will come.
8. Talk to someone Feeling support is also very important. Check the support system around you. Do you have anyone you can call and talk to when you are worried so those thoughts can get out of your head? Being listened to and understanding where you're coming from often makes you feel supported and eases your worry. On the other hand, also keep in mind know who to avoid when you are feeling anxious. If the friend you call is a chronic worrier, she might not be the best person to call when you feel anxious.
Talk to a close friend, discuss with them what's concerned and worry about. Some others might choose to find a therapist, counsellor to talk to. I also provide a free 30min heart to heart chat if you want to find someone to talk about your issue and discover what next possible step you can take to resolve your issue.
9. Repeat and build your muscle
Building new habits need discipline, and you are throwing yourself to do something "uncomfortable" (compared to what you have been doing - constant worrying). This is a practice, is not a "done once, done for life" concept, just like you can't expect owning the perfectly fit body by going gym twice a year.
It takes time and regular practice to let the brain know your new standard and reap the benefits.
Always remember YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS. When it comes to emotional stuff, we tend to undergo "cognitive fusion" and think we are the thoughts and feelings. If you broke your leg, you be saying - my leg is broken, but not you are broken. The same rules applied to bring the correct response to your worrying thoughts - there are worries, but not I am worried.