Worry is like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere - Emily Bombeck.
When I read this quote it made me stop and really think about my relationship with worry. It really does not get you anywhere.
Our 'monkey mind', a term coined thousands of years in Buddhism, speaks to the tenancy of humans minds to become restless, indecisive and create problems and stress like a bunch of wild monkeys causing havoc in a jungle.
If not checked, our monkey minds tends to bring us into a place where we imagine future problems, rehash old problems and worry endlessly about 'what if's'. Leading us to anxiety, thinking in circles, negative self talk, sleeplessness, indecisiveness and maybe even depression.
Are you letting your monkey mind control your life?
I was. I still am sometimes. But I am starting to recognize that worrying truly does nothing about a situation.
Worrying about something will never change an outcome that is outside of your control.
In fact, worrying about stuff only creates more problems that may not even exist!
Worry keeps us stuck in our minds, paralyzed in fear and makes us physically sick.
The more we worry about something the less time we spend focusing on things that matter and work ourselves into a dizzy focusing on all the ‘what if’s”.
Worry literally gets you no where.
Do not feel bad if you are a worrier - it impacts so many of us. However with a little awareness and some practical tips, you can learn to calm your monkey mind and learn how to shift from a place of worry to one of calmness and confidence.
When you continually worry you are creating more problems in your mind and only impacting your mental, emotional and physical health. Bringing awareness to the fact that no amount of you worrying is going to change a situation is the first step to squashing your worry.
It has been proven that stress makes up 70% of illness. When we are constantly worrying we are putting ourselves in a 'fight or flight' mode and impacting our emotional and physical health. Bringing a conscious awareness to the fact that worrying is hurting no one but yourself is a powerful mind-shift to help you get off the worry train and back into the present moment.
One of the most powerful mindshifts you can make in your life is to understand what is within your circle of control and what is not. This is a powerful way I began to get my worry under control. This is a tool I was taught in social work school and it has helped me IMMENSELY when dealing with worry and overthinking situations and events.
Below is an amazing diagram for kids (and adults alike) from the talented Wholehearted Counselling on TeachersPayTeachers website that can help you to better understand your circle of control. Focus on what you can control and let the other stuff go.
When your mind starts going a mile a minute and you recognize you are starting to spiral out into the worry tornado consciously stop and take a moment to practice a breathing or grounding technique. There are many options out there - check out this article for some ideas. One breathing technique I have been using lately is by John Assaraf who shares it in his book Innercise - called the take 6 - calming the circuit exercise.
Neuroscience has proven that taking 6 rhythmic breaths helps to deactivate your stress response system and brings you into a calm and proactive mind frame versus a disempowering and reactive mind frame of stress and worry. John recommends taking 6 deep rhythmic breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth (like you are blowing out through a straw) and as you breathe in say one of these phrases:
I breathe in calmness, I breath out stress
I breathe in calmness, I breathe out anxiety and overwhelm
I breathe in calmness, I breathe out fear
Although this seems a little odd - sometimes just acknowledging what our worry is about and shining a light on it can take away some of the ‘scariness’ of it all. It is like when you are a child and you are afraid there is a monster in the closet. Your parents would show you there was nothing to be fearful about - shining a light into the closet and taking away your worry that a monster was there. Taking the power away from your mind's imagination and simply bringing a conscious awareness to your worries takes away some of their powers and shifts you from a subconscious thought train to a conscious thought train.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing yourself into the present moment. It is a skill that can be easily learned and done anytime , anywhere to re-centre yourself and bring you out of your mind and back into your present reality. Need some tips - check out this article here for 25 mindfulness activities that take less than 5 minutes.
I cannot express how powerful journaling is. Physically writing out your worries, concerns, thoughts and just letting your pen fly releases sooo much energy out of your body and allows you to look back and reflect from a different perspective than having your worried thought swirling around your head and throughout your physical body. Writing things out allows you to step back and become the scientist of your life.
Remember no amount of worrying changes anything.
Stressing yourself out, worrying about the what if’s and the uncertainties is not going to change anything - ever . The only thing it is going to do is keep you stuck in a perpetual cycle of anxiety, stress and overwhelm - leaving you to feel physically, emotionally and mentally sick.
From a chronic worrier (in remission) to another, this is a skill you can learn to manage.
We spend so much money on going to the spa, taking vacations, and seeking out external self care techniques as band aid solutions for our problems. It is not until you start re-training your mind, focusing on the inner workings that you will see lasting transformation in your emotional and mental wellbeing.
When you make the conscious effort to calm your mind and put the work into our inner selves you will reap the benefits long term. I promise.
*Disclaimer* if your anxiety and worry is overtaking your life - keeping you paralyzed in fear, giving you panic attacks and severe anxiety please reach out to your Doctor, a toll free help line in your area, or to a therapist to continue to learn strategies that will work for you. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Please reach out - you do not have to live this way.
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If you are struggling to calm your negative self talk check out this free worksheet to stop your negative self talk and go do that thing you know you want to do but keep talking yourself out of! Get your Free Workbook HERE>>