Breaking the Worry Cycle

By: Cara Griffin-Locker

She sat with her breath held as the bills lay on the kitchen table.  She did not know how they were all going to get paid or how they would have anything left for food or daily essentials. She started to second guess her decision to leave the job that she had had for eight and a half years. She questioned the wisdom in losing the paid vacation and the health care benefits. Everything started to become overwhelming and the worrying was taking over. It was starting to consume her; what seemed possible now seemed so impossible and the thoughts of having to keep working was very unsettling.  The worrying started to take its toll physically, she found herself not being able to sleep and her appetite had decreased. She realized that she was losing control.

Most of us can probably relate to this scenario - worrying about bills, wanting to be a stay-at-home parent, etc.. If we take a minute we will realize that life is full of things to worry about: what to wear, the kids, vehicles, being able to pay the mortgage, will there ever be enough money? The list is endless; we can exhaust ourselves worrying about the day-to-day stuff. Worrying not only affects a person mentally but physically as well. It can take on many forms and ailments such as headaches, decreased sleep, loss of appetite, stomach aches and so on.

If you are like most people, you probably do not know how to stop the vicious cycle of worrying. Here are 5 helpful tips to help you take back the control that worrying has stolen.

1.       Write down your worries. Writing down your worries will determine whether they are productive or unproductive.  If a worry is productive then it is something that can be resolved now, for example needing to secure accommodation for a vacation, whereas unproductive worrying is something that cannot be resolved now, for example having to make payments on a bill you cannot afford to pay off. Also, when you write down the worrisome thoughts, think of realistic alternatives.

2.      Think about how you would handle your worst case scenario. This often allows for processing and decision-making in a rational state of mind.

3.      Take action on what you can change or have some control over. Evaluate the worrisome thoughts that you feel you cannot take any action on. Consider whether they are excessive or distorted and which ones have very little basis in reality.

4.      Practice relaxation and stress-reduction techniques. A simple thing you can do to help quiet your mind and calm your emotions and body is to breathe in slowly to the count of six and breathe out slowly to the count of six. Do this for 5 minutes; gradually increase to 20 minutes over time.

5.      Accept what you cannot change or have power over in your life. Praying can help with accepting the things we cannot change. Also, remember that God is bigger than any worry you may have. Giving things over to Him is vital.

Stopping the vicious cycle of worrying is a process and one that does not happen overnight.  However, if you start by changing your thought process and implementing these 5 helpful tools, you just may be on your way to a more worry-free life.

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