Worries whittle away our happiness, interfere with our sleep, damage our health, harm relationships and cripple our ability. If you openly admit that you are a worry wart, chances are you also worry about how much you worry.
Some people claim to have “no worries.” Others label their worries as “legitimate concerns.” (Currently, there are a lot of “legitimate concerns” surrounding the presidential election.) Regardless of how you justify or classify your worries, the fact remains – we all worry to some degree.
Here are a few of the strategies I used when I was consumed with the worries and fears accompanied by my brain injury. I still use these strategies eighteen years later.
- Give your worries the attention they demand. Instead of pushing your worries aside until you become weighed down with worry, acknowledge them – all of them, big or small.
- Immediately transfer your worries from your mind to a holding place by writing them down. Keep a running list of your worries in a notebook or in a folder – out of sight AND out of mind.
- Schedule a weekly appointment with yourself – specifically to worry about the things on your “worry list.”
- Actually record a “worry appointment” on your calendar or in your planner.
- Each time a new worry pops into your head, instantly add it to your list.
- Each time a worry returns, remind yourself, “I don’t have the time nor the energy to worry about this right now. I will worry about this on (the scheduled appointment.)”
- If a worry persists, get tough with it. “You are not the boss of me. Go away. I’ll deal with you on (scheduled day/time.)”
- Honor your scheduled appointment to worry, unless you don’t need it.
- Pull out your “worry list.” Review it and cross out the entries that you no longer feel the need to worry about.
- Next, separate the remaining worries into two categories -“situations that are out of my control” and “situations that I might be able to influence or resolve.”
- “Situations out of my control” – Acknowledge that there is no purpose nor benefit to worry about them. (Turn these worries into a prayer or meditation list.) If these worries return, remind yourself, “This is out of my control.”
- “Situations that I might be able to resolve” – CHOOSE ONE. Ask yourself, “What is one thing I can do RIGHT NOW to resolve this worry?” Then take action. If you have time remaining, choose a second worry to resolve.
- If there is nothing you can do “right now” or if you are out of time, save the worries that remain for your next scheduled “worry appointment.”
A major cause of worry stems from situations that we feel powerless to change or circumstances that are out of our control. We might not be able to stop worries from invading our thoughts, but we can train ourselves to remove them to a holding spot until we are available to give them our full attention.
Where’s the humor?
Humor doesn’t require we laugh when we don’t feel like laughing, nor that we make light of serious situations like overcoming worry. But, a humorous approach provides distance from our troubles and calms our fears. Treating our worries like the intruders that they are restores our power and enables us to use common sense and find practical solutions, so we can worry less and enjoy life more.