Taking control of worry
Worry, feeling anxious or having a little self doubt are perfectly normal. We all feel those butterflies in our tummy before we embark upon something challenging or that holds importance to us. Job interviews, first dates or the anticipation of a rollercoaster ride will all potentially cause you to have a moment of anxiety. Can we start taking control of worry?
It is when this worry or anxiety takes over your thoughts, something that is constantly making you question your actions and creating negativity that it is time to address the situation. In this time of world turmoil, many of us are experiencing a heightened level of anxiety. Looking after our mental health will help us all to manage our limited interactions with the outside world. Here are a few ideas I have come up with to help us navigate through those moments when the butterflies turn into full anxiety or panic.
What makes you worry?
Firstly, look at the things that make you worry. Now reassess them into how realistic the chances are that these fears or worries will actually happen. We often worry about things that in fact have little chance of ever coming to fruition. It is interesting that our daily drive to the shops or work is probably fraught with more danger of having a car crash than the probability of us catching the virus, but we never really concern ourselves with the dangers of driving.
Assess the worry
Once you have weighed up the risk. If the situation is relevant to spend further time in consideration, you can then work out the outcome of the worst case scenario. How bad is this really? It may feel as though it would have a serious consequence, but in reality would the outcome be as bad as you think? Sometimes we over generalise and make one small mistake into a complete failure.
Can you change the situation you are worried about?
Next, think about your ability to change the situation you are worried about. Can you take measures to limit the risks of the worst outcome happening? If so, then consider the list of things you should implement to minimise the potential harm. You may even want to write this down so you can use it as a checklist and have concrete evidence of your efforts.
For some of the things we are concerned about, we may have no control over. Being able to acknowledge this and come up with an action plan for the worst case scenario will also be helpful in this instance. Take for example, being laid off from work. What will you do in this situation? What are the things you can think of now that will help if this happens? Preparation is the key to managing such situations. Even though the incident may be out of your control, you have a plan of attack to focus on to help get you through.
Some people find it helpful to set up a “Worry Time”. This is when you give yourself permission to worry about all the things you need to work through. Set the time away from when you are going to sleep so you are not carrying the stress this may cause into bedtime. It may be that before dinner for half an hour you give yourself permission to sit down with a glass of wine and look at the media or social media and worry about all the things that are going on around you.
Ok. Your half an hour is up now and all the worrying is done. When you find yourself starting to head toward worries that are negative, stop and put them on the mental list for the next days designated “Worry Time”. You may want to make a list of things on a note file in your phone so you know that you will be able to give each item adequate consideration. At the end of the half hour when you are finished with “Worry Time” delete the note or clear it for next time, as those worries are now gone.
Find a distraction
If all of this fails, find yourself a distraction. It is a little more tricky right now to distract yourself, but there are plenty of options still. Read a book. Take the dog for a walk, watch your favourite TV show, or whatever it takes to get your mind off of the current concern. And if all else fails, right now, having that glass of wine might just be the distraction you require.
Everyone take care and be safe right now. Look after yourself, your loved ones and your community. Reach out to others where you can, social distancing does not mean isolation. If you need to chat you can always PM me.