Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. ~Swedish Proverb
Our imaginations are such an incredible gift, allowing us to daydream and envision incredible wonder.
As children, we used our vivid imaginations to create fun and exciting playmates and spectacularly fantastical situations in which we would ‘live’ for hours on end. Imagination was fun, funny and adventurous.
As adults, our imaginations often become a work-thing of worry.
We fret tirelessly over horrible situations our imagination dreams up, things that could happen, might happen, but most likely won’t happen. These worries drain us of our productivity, create undue stress, affect our sleep and our relationships.
Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get your anywhere. ~English proverb
Here are a few healthy habits that can help minimize worrying.
1. Realize most of what we spend time worrying about never comes to fruition
And if it does, we generally have spent hours stewing over a much worse outcome.
As Winston Churchill once said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
When we find ourselves worrying, we should ask:
“How many the things I feared would happen in my life actually did occur?”
By answering this question, we put things into perspective. We frequently find that the majority of our worries never came to light or were considerably less worrisome than we envisioned them to be.
2. Avoid getting lost in vague fears
We can easily work ourselves up over nothing when we let our imagination run wild when we lack clarity in a situation. Vague fears can lead to over-exaggerated scenarios. Gain clarity on the situation by taking deep breath and asking, “What is really the worst that could happen?” Then, spend some time identifying a solution should that unlikely scenario occur. This practice saves time, energy and a lot of suffering.
3. Don’t guess what others are thinking
When we assume we know what others are thinking or feeling, we can easily lead ourselves down a worst case scenario path. How do we avoid this? Communication. Ask the other person what they expect, what they want, what they feel or think. Not only does this alleviate unnecessary worry but it also promotes a more open, honest relationship.
4. Say STOP in a situation where you are unable to think straight
There are times when we are all mentally vulnerable. Worry feeds on this emotional state and it is best to stop it before it gets out of control. When we find ourselves in a state when our emotions are cloudy and we can’t think straight, put a stop to those thoughts. We should tell ourselves:
“I will not think about this right now. I will think this through when my mind is better able to address this issue.”
5. Get some exercise
Moving our bodies helps reduce stress and tension, which in turn, minimizes our need to fret. It releases pent up, negative energy, allowing us to focus and make better decisions.
6. Share your thoughts
By telling someone we trust about our fears, we release them from inside ourselves. Often, talking about things gives us a perspective we wouldn’t gain otherwise. Others can shed some light on the situation, or just lend support. Keeping our fears to ourselves can make them larger than life. If talking to someone isn’t an option, write it down. Getting all those thoughts onto paper and out of our heads helps calm us down and offers clarity.
7. Take baby steps
Often the idea of tackling a huge issue is overwhelming. It is much easier to take one small step forward at a time. Focus on one small step at a time, then take it. This moves us forward toward a solution rather than keeping us stuck. Forward movement empowers us and makes our fears diminish.
8. Be present
Often our worries involve reliving the past or fears about the future. Take time to be present in the here and now. Look around. Listen, touch, smell. Breathe. Slow down. When we take time to live in the moment and count our blessings, worry often dissipates.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.~ Leo Buscaglia