It feels like every day there’s something new to worry about, such as:
- Climate change
- Potential government shut down
- Escalating conflicts across the world
- The safety of our loved ones
- The economy
- Our own health and well being
- And the list goes on.
Are you a worrier?
I learned the concept of worry at a young age from my Mom. She worried a lot, especially about money. Often when we were in the car, she talked about things that worried her. Although she didn’t say she was worried, I knew she was. I also saw the way stress affected her the more she worried. Have you ever stopped to notice how much time and energy worry steals from you?
It’s no surprise that I tend to be a worrier, too. I’d like to think I worry less than my Mom did and less than I did in my younger years. Unfortunately, there are still some things that will push my “worry button”.
When you worry, what happens to you (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually)? I’ve noticed my brain starts going a mile a minute, I can feel my stomach clench and I become very intense. At my core, I’m a problem solver. When I worry about something, I believe there must be a solution. Unfortunately, this may not always be true, or it may not be within my abilities to come up with the solution. I’ve discovered sometimes, letting go of the worry can be the best solution. This may sound simple to do, but my experience is that it is not easy.
How do you handle your worry? Like my Mom, my preferred method is to talk about my worry. In some cases, I may end up talking to one of my cats! Talking something through helps me to lay things out in a way that isn’t always possible when I do it all in my head. I’ve also discovered, my cats are great listeners!
I’ve also noticed when I’m worried, Mickey and Minnie (my kitties) want to interact with me. They may:
- rub my hand
- jump up on my desk so they can rub their face on my chin
- snuggle near me
- want to be in the room with me.
I love their support and the way they respond to my worry. How do your pets act when you’re worried?
I’ve read that it’s beneficial to set aside a specific time and duration every day dedicated to worry. If you start worrying outside of the designated time, remind yourself this isn’t “worry time”. Then put your worry aside until the specified time. This method has three distinct benefits:
- You will spend less time worrying.
- Your worrying won’t sap your energy.
- You may have already come up with a solution.
Although worry may feel negative and keeps you stuck, there are situations where worry can help. For me, worry can be the catalyst to come up with a solution or action step(s) that will eliminate or reduce my worry. For example, my husband, Rich, recently came down with a case of Covid, which was the first one for our household. I worried I would catch it, which is NOT what I wanted to have happen. Instead of sitting around worrying about whether I would catch it, I jumped into action! I started cleaning everything I could in our home and cars. I washed my hands like a crazy lady. I came up with a plan to support Rich during his illness, while limiting my exposure. I’m happy to say I avoided getting Covid and Rich is feeling much better!
Here are some questions you can ask the next time you’re worrying about something:
- What outcome am I looking for?
- What’s the best way for me to process this worry?
- What support do I need (e.g., a trusted friend, relative, coach, mentor, etc.)?
- What action(s) can I take to eliminate or diminish the worry in this situation?
- Do I need a plan to address the actions I want to take?
There are some situations where you won’t be able to find a solution that addresses the thing you worry about. In these cases, you still may come up with some action steps to help better the situation. You may also come to a fork in the road because you discover you cannot do anything now to address your worry. This leaves you with a choice — worry or not worry and accept that you can’t change the situation now. Which you choose will be up to you for that particular situation.
Worry can drain your energy, time, and emotions. It can also keep you stuck. Yet, I find worry often can help inspire a solution and action(s).