I'm worried about my worries

“My worries are killing me,” must be one of the most common expressions these days. And yes, worry harms our health, steals our joy, and keeps us away from the solutions.

Worry is useful when it makes us see a problem and take action to solve it. But, worry and anxiety can overwhelm us to the point we become “chronic worriers”. We are filled with fear, we lose strength, we suffer the consequences in our health. What can be done? The psychologists tell us that the chronic preoccupation is a mental habit that can be changed. We can train our brains to diminish our levels or worry and build positive attitudes. Neuroscientists affirm that worrying is better that doing nothing. The same preoccupation in the brain is at least an activity that makes you think you are busy. It is not an easy thing to solve.

Behind the worry you need to be fully aware of your emotions. Pain, sadness, bitterness, anger, frustration… all these emotions can be hiding behind worry. But remember, worry does not solve the problems.

It is important, then, to identify our negative emotions. How does this work? Neurological studies indicate that recognizing and naming the emotions reduces their impact. Suppressing the emotions does not help; in the long run it harms and worsens. If you can identify and label your emotions clearly (instead of ignoring or suppressing them), you will learn to diminish your anxiety.

Then, you will be able to be clearer about the necessary steps of action you need to take concerning your problems. Learn to identify what situations or people raise your levels of stress, and discover ways of setting clear limits.

We also need to remember that life is unpredictable and unstable. Having a rigid viewpoint of life only raises your stress. Expecting everything to be perfect and organized is not realistic. Learn to have an attitude of more openness and acceptance with what happens in your life.

Productive worry, writes Reinecke, helps you solve problems. Unproductive worry leads you to ruminate on the problems without solving them.

Don’t ignore your responsibilities, but do take time for fun, for relaxing, for hobbies: those things you enjoy. Be with friends and family to enjoy them. Take time to build and maintain your personal space also. Exercise gratitude, which also helps diminish your anxiety. Being grateful raises your dopamine, which also increases your wellbeing. Gratitude also raises your social level skills, which makes you enjoy people more.

And of course, make decisions. When you make a decision and move towards action, your brain rests. Neuroscience indicates that making decisions reduces anxiety. Searching for and finding solutions calms your brain. Don’t expect the magic nor perfect solution: start with a small step. Do the best you can where you are, and take a step towards the solution of the problem.

Ask yourself, What is really worrying me? Define as specifically and clearly as possible what makes you anxious.

What is my responsibility in this problem?

What friends or counselors do I need to consult concerning this problem?

What are my options? Take time to brainstorm many ideas towards the solution of the problem you face. Great part of worrying is believing there are no options. Focus in actions that depend solely on you, instead of relying on others to pitch in.

Another important solution to anxiety is affection. A hug, words of approval and encouragement will not only do good to your family and friends, but it will also improve your wellbeing.

And finally, two more ideas:

Practice forgiveness. Don’t hang on to bitterness or resentment, that are only harming you.

Practice gestures of kindness each day. Do something nice for a friend, for you spouse, for your coworker.

Stop worrying so much and take action!

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