It seems like there is always something to worry about in life, right? Just thinking about the days, weeks, and months ahead can stress us out. Will I get stuck in traffic tomorrow and be late to a meeting with my boss? What if I don’t get a good performance review in six months and am passed up for that promotion? Will I be healthy next year? These are all questions that we can’t possibly have the answer to right now. But they can consume our waking hours — if we let them.
I’ve long struggled to keep my anxiety at bay. It is tough. Anxiety tends to make you worry about things that are out of your control. I’ve worked hard in recent years to make sure that I controlled my anxiety and that it didn’t control me. But there are those moments when I find my mind wandering to all kinds of crazy scenarios.
Back when I had a 9-to-5 job I would welcome the “Sunday scaries” as each weekend commenced. Once the sun went down on Sunday, my mind would race and my chest would start to feel tight. All of the anxiety — the “what-if” scenarios — things that may or may not happen in the upcoming week would flood my mind. Rather than learn to live like that, I thought how could I change my mindset?
Here are a few ways I’ve learned to worry less and live more:
Embrace the “it is what it is” mantra: This line used to irritate me years back. What the heck does it mean? It tells me nothing. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to understand and appreciate it more. Whatever you are feeling in whichever situation you should find yourself in — acknowledge that it is temporary. Then take a step back and examine how to fix, remedy, or negate the situation based on what the best possible outcome would be. Coming to terms with the fact that the situation is or has occurred — and you cannot change that — can help you begin to approach a solution.
Practice mindfulness (and yoga): I can vouch for the restorative benefits of yoga. When I find my mind wandering before bed (because that always happens), I lie in corpse pose and focus on my breathing — nothing else. At that moment, breathing is the most important (and only) thing on my mind. As you focus on your breath and your chest rising and falling, your body and mind begin to quiet. I practiced yoga with a teacher who offered the most soothing meditation at the end of class. Her voice alone could put me in an almost trance-like sleep. I took so many classes with her that I memorized the meditation she used to do with us. Now, when I have difficulty falling asleep, I replay that meditation in my head until I feel calm and relaxed.
Talk to friends and family: Talking about what’s on your mind is a great way to get something off your chest, feel better, and get an outside opinion about a situation. I’ve been fortunate to have a few older and wiser advice gurus in my life. They’re the ones I go to when I need a sounding board, someone who knows more than I do, or just someone to listen to me and hear my fears.
Utilize the power of exercise to your advantage: When you’re really stressed out about something you will feel better after a workout. Exercising releases endorphins that can have a positive effect on your mood and outlook. So the next time you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed, hit the gym, go for a run, or take a fitness class. Kickboxing does wonders for me!
Although worrying is a part of life, worrying less is something that we all should strive for. The next time you feel like your worrying ways are getting the better of you, ask yourself the following:
– Can you do anything about it?
– Will worrying change it?
If the answer to these questions is ‘no,’ then focus more on yourself and what you can do in the present moment to prevent yourself from worrying.
How do you calm your mind? I’d love to hear your tips!