What not to worry about
The Worry Monster
First let me introduce you to a whole new thing someone told me about last Thursday at the National Stress Summit I was speaking at – The Worry Monster! This is a picture of one and I am so going to buy one to use at my workshops! You put a worry in its mouth and the worry gets all eaten up! (I’ve already thought this through if you have kids – the makers suggest you get children to write down what they’re worried about, pop it into the monster’s mouth and it’ll be gone by morning. Now aside from what we know about strengthening thoughts by repeating and/or visualising them, there’s also a risk you might forget to take it out while they’re sleeping, so maybe a little imagining ‘putting it in’ is best!)
Now, on to grown up worrying…
Stage 1 – What are you worried about?
The first question is to realise what you’re actually worrying about. It’s possible to have a worried feeling; racing heart, fidgety, nervous stomach etc without actually realising what is making you feel that way. There is a chance it might have come about through lack of sleep, lack of food or because of dehydration (particularly the hangover kind!) in which case you need to meet your physical needs. And keep telling yourself “Everything is ok, this feeling will pass”.
If it’s not purely a physical need, or you’re not sure, move on to stage 2…
Stage 2 – Is it real?
Sometimes we’re worried about things that we’re hoping won’t happen. If someone is late do you start to worry they’re dead in a ditch somewhere, or if you’re about to go do something really important, are you imagining it going really badly?
Check if you’re worried about something that isn’t yet known, in which case things could just as easily turn out ok and it’s important to keep that in mind too. Whatever the outcome, if you’re hoping for the best or staying neutral, you’ll be less stressed and more likely to feel resourceful when you deal with what actually happens in the end.
Stage 3 – What can you do?
Working out if you have any control over the situation is useful whether the answer is yes or no. If you realise you have some control or influence then you can choose to get on and do something about it, worry is crushed by action. Especially those things that have built up into something bigger than they ought to be like a big piece of writing or a build up of mess in your house or workplace. Just do it, as the advert tells us 😉
If you realise you have no control over the situation then this frees up your concentration. You no longer need to spend time feeling angry, frustrated or afraid, you need to focus your energy and your time on figuring out the best way to accept the situation and how to look after yourself kindly in getting on with everyday things.
The problems come when we get these things the wrong way round: We kid ourselves we can’t do anything, when we could. Or when we spend energy angsting about something (as if that will change it) when we actually have no control.
It’s not rocket salad
I know what I’m saying isn’t rocket salad, but like most good mental health habits we need a reminder now and again. If you don’t check in with yourself you can so easily set off on the worry train with all your bags and baggage, worrying for all you’re worth.
Finding calm, no matter what
Imagine being a firefighter or an emergency doctor, they can’t afford to be panicking each time something happens. Of course, even if you are working in an emergency service, it’s different when it’s something happening in your own life but the principles of how to cope are actually the same; taking a step back and observing what’s happening, not jumping in to the drama.
In order to help you do this I have a number of audio and video resources on you tube and I’ve recently put them into a ‘playlist’ so they’re all in one place. Just click here to se the playlist: Pam’s Techniques
One of the most appropriate ones for this particular situation is ‘The Shield’. Have a go and see what you think, The Shield is great just for ordinary days too, releasing pressure and finding a safe place inside yourself. There are other visualisations and relaxations and a few confidence boosting ones too.
Or you could get yourself a Worry Monster! (I’m not getting any commission lol)
It’s important to recognise that worrying is bad for your immune system and stops you noticing all the good stuff that’s going on at the same time. Give yourself a day off from worry and if you really have to, just have a five minute worry and then crack on with something more useful or pleasant. You deserve to live happy.
That’s all for now except to say that my brand new uber exciting Burnout ebook will be available in the next 2 or 3 weeks and I can’t wait to let me favourite people (that’s you, subscribers and audiences) get a code to receive it for FREE!
It’s full of hidden clues of burnout to watch out for, ways to avoid it and essential tips for healing from it.
Watch this space 🙂