Studies show that most people spend 2 hours a day spending time worrying about relationships, finances, health etc., but 85–90% of things people worry about do not come true. For example: you may have an argument with your significant other, but you don’t break up. You may have not done as well as you would like on a presentation, but you are not fired. Mark Twain says “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." So let's discuss this worry beast...
Firstly, there is a difference between fear, worry and anxiety, and when we can "name it to tame it" we can often take some of it's power away and come up with a plan. I speak in depth about this in my new book – Emotional Advantage: Embracing All You Feelings to Create a Life You Love. (PS - if you live outside of the US - you can still buy the book and get free shipping from www.bookdepository.com!)
The Difference Between Fear, Worry and Anxiety
• Fear usually has a trigger – The feeling of danger before you go into an elevator, a loud noise, someone darts in front of your car; it’s immediate and more visceral.
• Worry often has a cause - I'm worried I'll be late for my flight, my mortgage or rent or student loan is due and this month is tight; it’s mental.
• Anxiety can be much more vague - I’m feeling anxious about traveling in general - I don't like flying, anxious about my finances - they are a mess I'm underwater, there is the hazy expectation, and a feeling of looming future dread, but it’s hard to pin down. It’s often experienced in the body.
Dealing With Late Night Worry
Worries tend to be around a specific problem and you can find a solution! Think “I’ll pay half of the bill now, and half next month,” or “I’ll leave for the airport fifteen minutes early in case there’s traffic.” How good did it feel for you the last time you were proactive about a worry? Here are some useful strategies to manage worry:
1. Think, "What is the worst that could happen?" Romance and finance can keep us up at night. If you wake up at night instead of riding the worry loop, journal it out and ask yourself: are your assumptions really true?
Write what is the worst that could happen and what would you do about it? Like having a earthquake preparedness kit, you can ease your mind, for example if you’re concerned about job security keep your resume up to date. If you have a huge project, think about how you can break it down into manageable parts. What could you do tomorrow, and what part would you tackle the next day? Get it out of your head and onto paper.
2. Stretching out of your comfort zone: This type of worry is about being judged/looking bad/failing for trying something new or big. Antidote: the 5 Second Rule. Count down 5,4,3,2,1 and you bypass your mind’s programming and can DO IT! Applaud your courage and that you’re being true to yourself– this is between you and you.
3.Break your state: Take a walk outside, do movement of any kind, and deep breathing with a longer exhale which engages your parasympathetic nervous system and calms you down, which leads us to…
4. Mindfulness – accept that you feel worried, don’t judge it. Being worried is part of life. Don’t make yourself wrong for worrying. Don’t beat yourself up. The feelings come up, then let them go with your exhale. Be here now, that’s where all of your power is. Slow down, ask for insight. Ask, "What there is to learn from this situation?"
5. Reframe/Change your perspective: Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck says "Don’t hope for a life without problems. - we need some struggle to have a meaningful life. Happiness comes from solving problems. Problems are the building blocks of happiness."
6. Help someone else. Service to others helps you to be grateful for what you have, who you are and what you have to offer this world. Savor the good in your life – this promotes optimism and joy. Remember: somehow life has a way of working out. As one of my dear friends and mentors always says:
Trust and stay open. There are good things ahead, make that your focus, and see more of it show up!
Here's to a restful sleep!