Everyone has worries, and some worry more than others.
If worrying takes away your joy and focus, it’s time to make a mental shift. We’ve asked experts for their tips to help you worry less and enjoy life more.
1. Use a worry box
Designate some sort of box for storing your worry and concerns. This box can be simple in design. “An empty Kleenex box works great – and use it as your ‘worry box.’ Anytime a worry comes up and you notice yourself worrying for more than five minutes about something, write it down, fold up the paper, and put it in the box,” suggests Jaime Pfeffer, a life balancing and success coach, meditation teacher and author based in Singer Island, Florida.
“It sounds simple, but the physical act of writing things down and ‘turning them over’ is a miraculous thing.”
2. Schedule “worry time”
If you worry a lot, consider setting a time each day — say 6:30 AM -6:40 AM — when the only thing you do is worry, says Pfeffer.
Make sure you get all your worries out in that time frame because, for the rest of the day, you’re going to be worry-free, she says. “Most people find when they get to their worry time, they have nothing to worry about,” states Pfeffer.
As worry thoughts are simply thoughts, learning how to detach from them can be hugely beneficial — especially for anxious or introverted people who can even suffer from cherophobia, the fear of being happy.
“Learning to meditate has a slew of benefits – better physical health, better focus, better relationships – and it’s powerful and effective for slaying worries both short- and long-term,” continues Pfeffer.
4. Accept your worries
Sometimes, when we discover a not-so-great part of ourselves, we try to banish it or we beat ourselves up about it, Pfeffer says.
“This is okay and we can have compassion for ourselves knowing that this is a defense mechanism to keep us safe,” she adds. “But, adding insult to injury — in the case of berating ourselves for worrying — is not going to help us move forward or feel better. In fact, it can make us feel worse.”
If you find yourself upset or feeling ashamed about worrying, have compassion for yourself and accept you’re doing the best you can. “To take this a step further, create a, list of the positives that lie alongside your worry,” Pfeffer says. “For example, people who worry more than the average person are usually great with details. They are usually high in caregiving and nurturing of others, too, and there’s nothing wrong worth that.”
5. Dig deep for answers
At its heart, worry is a form of illusionary control, explains Pfeffer.
“Our minds make us think we’re safer by worrying, when in fact, worry is only keeping us out of the present moment and from enjoying what’s here now,” she says. But, your worries started somewhere, and that’s usually in your childhood. Try to think back to your early days, especially between the ages of five to seven years old, because there are often nuggets of gold there, suggests Pfeffer.
“Ask yourself, if, as a child, your environment ever felt unsafe or unstable? Did you lose a parent or caregiver early in your life or experience a move? All of these can lead to a habit of worry later on in life,” she says.
6. Embrace awareness
Everything starts with awareness, says Patricia Young, a certified holistic coach in South Florida.
“There’s nothing we can change or shift in our lives if we’re not aware of it. Worrying too much means that we’re not present, we’re more focused in the future,” she explains.
“When you catch yourself worrying, get excited because that means that you’re becoming more aware, but also, in order to shift your thoughts and be more in the present moment, think about something that you’re grateful for — look around, there’s always something to be grateful for.”
She stresses that gratitude will help you stay grounded and in the moment. “The brain cannot worry and feel gratitude at the same time so the quickest way to bring yourself to the present, and stop worrying is by connecting with feelings of gratitude,” Young says.
Transformation doesn’t just happen. It takes a plan and a support system. So surround yourself with like minded people, a mentor, someone to get you moving forward and put in the time.