It’s an old saying but it’s true and that’s coming from a designated worrier! I do worry a lot less these days and over a much shorter time when I do. I think worrying is really a combination of worse case thinking and wasting valuable mental energy. That awful combination isn’t good for anyone’s mental health. I used to spend a lot of time and a lot of sleepless nights just thinking over the minutia of things I really couldn’t do anything about. I know with the current virus situation there’s lots to worry about and lots of personal decisions to be made. I had to make a decision about what I was going to do with tutoring for the moment. There’s a lot to consider, leaving students without help, moving online, losing an income source and ultimately this decision came down to just me since I was allowed to do it if I wanted to. I decided to move online for the moment but I was a little impressed with myself how much I was able to avoid stressing me out.
Years back I decided (at new year’s) to do something about my worrying. I’m a pretty pragmatic person in life so I decided to make it a point to treat the way I think about things the same way. So when I find myself worrying I just remind myself of these sorts of things.
- If literally nothing I do can influence the outcome then I have no choice but to roll with the punches
- If I don’t have to decide now and things might change I’ll just decide later
- I think about all the factors carefully pick an approach and head in that direction for now. Then I trust myself enough to say ‘you thought about this and decided’ just go with this
- I only worry about my own behavior I can’t control anyone else’s
- If I’ve said or done something that any reasonable person would get over or overlook I just trust that they will
- If not then I apologize sincerely
- If my brain just wants to worry about something I give it a timeline. Like ‘when this drive or run is over I’m going to let this go and think about something else’
- If it’s someone else’s problem I offer to help them with it and then move on if that offer isn’t accepted
- If it’s going to just be stressful or sucky in the moment I’ll deal with those feelings then
I would say this helped me worry 90% less and 90% less intensely. Of course there are situations where I still worry. Mostly about people I love the most. Sometimes the saying ‘not my monkey’s, not my circus’ works well too. Put a nicer way ‘those aren’t my decisions to make’ take care of a lot of the rest.
Why am I writing about worrying other than the current situation? Well I think it really is terrible for your mental health no matter who you are and beyond that it doesn’t really serve any purpose most of the time. This weekend take some time to yourself, maybe get those positive thoughts going by getting moving and start thinking about your worrying. What do you worry about most and is it really doing anything for you?