As much as we try to escape from and deny that stress and worry really have a huge impact on how well we are coping, thriving and living our best lives, let's keep it real - we are never going to be completely worry free or immune to damaging challenges that seemingly pop up out of nowhere.
Now I know that we are all about healthy alternatives to worry such as praying through things and working out to keep stress at bay, but we are also open to alternatives that may not be the best, like excessive drinking to block pain or swallowing down unsaid things out of fear we will upset someone we love.
I'm in the camp that there are two kinds of worry: Things that are happening right now and things that are off in the future.
We will come back to things that are happening right now in a moment, but let's very briefly talk about things that are off in the future/or we have no solid proof will ever even happen.
Easier said than done, but one of the best things I've learned is that it makes zero sense to invest time, stress, anger or fear into a variable that may never come to pass. I mean, I get it. Us controllers/perfectionists nitpick over every little detail so when the first sign of possible trouble heads our way we immediately latch on and start packing our overnight bag for the "worry tour" we are headlining.
Knowing this doesn't make sense or help us much, we still do it. I'll come back to this type of worry in another blog post, I promise.
Now, let's talk about things that are happening right now. They are in your face, you can't escape the reality of what is about to go down, it's big, scary and coming for you. EEEEKKKK!!!! I have been in this stressful mental space so many times it's not even funny, especially when it comes to bills being due but not having the money to pay them. Super, super stressful.
So, how do we work through through pressing worries that loom over our heads when we have to function as whole humans that have to finish the workday, pick up the kids, wash six loads of laundry, pay bills online AND clean up the mess your puppy made that your daughter begged for and ended up being your responsibility?
Well, a trick I've learned is to put it away then come back to it at a time YOU specify and, I'm telling you that this works!!! Well, at least for me it does and it may for you as well. One important thing to note is that if you are dealing with a life or death situation where help is needed immediately please disregard the tips shown below as they don't apply. Seek assistance right away if you are in an emergency situation.
So, let's make sense of this technique. Here is how it breaks down:
The first thing you want to do is remember that whatever it is you are worrying about has popped up as anxiety because it concerns you. This isn't the time to brush off your feelings as if they don't matter and it's ok to acknowledge that you are really _____ (insert your word here)
Say to yourself out loud: _____________ (issue/s you are experiencing) really has me bothered and worried. I want to get through this workday so I'll make plans for tonight (or this weekend) to have a complete worry fest
Whip out the calendar on your phone or your planner and block off time to have your worry fest. Yes, put this in your planner, in bold letters if you can, with a time where you will be free to do this with limited interruptions. Also, take a moment to jot down a list of the things stressing you out
Put the worry list aside (just for now). I know it's hard to not pick it back up, turn it over in your hands a million times, analyze it and continue stressing but I promise, you have committed time to going back and really processing your list. Remember to breathe!!
When it's time, whip out your list. Go through each item and really take time to check in with your self and see how you feel. If you want to cry, then cry. Yell into your pillow? I'm here for it. Sit there and stare off into space? Yep, that sounds good too. The point is that this is your time to let it all hang out in a judgement free way.
What I like about this is that after I've had my melt down (ok, meltDOWNS) I am able to sit with it for a while. Sitting with it allows me to really see what I'm up against in it's most undramatic form. I can challenge or get rid of limiting/negative self-talk because once it's not as dramatic I'm able to see the forest instead of just the trees. From there I come up with a plan to help me resolve the crisis and/or speak to someone that can help me get things done or even just support me.
Does this sound like something you'd be willing to try or, do you already use this technique? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer - I am not a therapist or licensed professional, and am only sharing tips and tools I've tried. I make no guarantees or claims of success and encourage you to seek a professional for further assistance as needed.