Tool #5-Stop the Worry Cycle
“Instead of worrying about what you can’t control, shift your energy to what you can create”
Roy T. Bennett
I’ve read that worry is a misuse of our imagination.
I think that is a good way to describe how powerful our imaginations really are!
When we worry, we are imagining all the “what if” scenarios, aren’t we?
And, our imaginations can really conjure up some pretty horrific stories, that’s for sure.
Now, a little bit of worry or concern, which might be a better reframe, about a person’s well being, an event coming up, etc, is ok.
It’s when that worrying consumes you that it becomes a problem.
As I eluded to in my personal note, I went through some extensive worrying about our adventure in Europe.
Not only did I worry about all the details of getting there with the pandemic restrictions and requirements, I also worried about:
- what if I got sick over there
- what if I caught COVID, even being vaccinated,
- what if I had to quarantine for 10 days-how would that work out.
- I also worried about being able to walk the 10-15 miles per day.
- What if I couldn’t?
- What if I injured myself.
- What if everyone in our little group didn’t get along?!
As you can see-the worry cycle went on and on.
I’m usually pretty good at not going down such an extreme tunnel, but hey, we’re still in a pandemic and the world is not what it was for traveling pre-COVID and I got caught up in the worry cycle-I must confess!
I could feel what all this was doing to me…and I knew it wasn’t good.
I could feel how depleted my energy levels were getting.
In fact, I was so energy depleted, I even self administered a rapid antigen test to make sure I didn’t have COVID!
I knew that I had to choose another way of being with all the unknowns, instead of worrying about them all.
And, then I made a decision that changed it all.
I decided I’d had enough!
I decided I was done with feeling distressed and anxious.
I decided to STOP the Worry Cycle!
When I made that decision that I’d had enough, I immediately felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.
I noticed my energy started coming back and I discovered in that moment a new found freedom.
Yup-putting a STOP to the worry cycle allows you to feel free.
You are no longer burdened down by all those what-if’s and you can actually feel in control again, instead of your runaway thoughts and emotions controlling YOU!
It was that decision to stop doing what wasn’t working that made such a huge difference for me as I finished preparing for my adventure.
By stopping what wasn’t working, I then was free to focus on what could go right instead.
When you are looking at all that can go well, the worries take a back seat.
Phew! I could breathe easily again.
Now, I knew that “things happen” in life. I wasn’t sticking my head in the sand.
I knew that there could be circumstances, situations and events that would be out of my control, but I also realized that my worrying about it beforehand did NOT solve any of the issues that may or may not come up.
My decision to stop worrying was accompanied by the decision to allow myself to be present and flexible and remember that I could deal with any of those what-ifs scenarios, if they did indeed happen.
By affirming this, my confidence grew and my excitement for the Camino de Santiago walk returned.
I was then freed up to be present to do what needed to be done to get myself on my way to this great adventure that had been planned pre-COVID.
By stopping my own “worry cycle,” I embraced Monty Python’s phrase:
“Always look on the bright side of life.” ?
You might be thinking, well that sounds great, but it’s not so easy once you’re caught up in the cycle.
So, how does one actually stop the worry cycle?
I’m going to share some action steps you can take to get off the cycle of worry, and maybe not even hop on it in the first place, and take the more empowered road of “the bright side of life!”
#1-Decide NOW-even before you get caught up in the worry cycle, that you are going to be an observer of you!
- The more you are aware of how your mind is thinking, your emotions are impacting you, and your how your body is responding to your thought patterns and emotions, the more you are able to nip the worry cycle before it gets out of control.
- Being proactive in this arena gives you a heads up for creating how you want your holidays to manifest!
#2-When you do find yourself in the cycle-because you’ve decided to be extra diligent in being an observer of you:
STOP for 1 minute
- Use the simple tool: Focused Calm Breathing
- This brings you into the present moment and allows you to connect in with your pre-frontal cortex-the thinking part of your brain, which goes offline when extra stressed (worried).
- Continue by using the Focused Calm Breathing with Fingers (this variation physically anchors in the calmness of the breath).
- Excellent first responder type “tool” for those holiday worries and stresses that can sneak up on you.
#3- Question those worrisome thoughts.
- “Am I certain xyz will happen?
- “Do I need to be personally involved?”
- “How does all this worrying benefit me?”
- “What is it I need?”
- Maybe reassurance from a trusted confidant?
- Maybe a walk to clear your head for better thinking thoughts?
- Questioning your worries about the holidays will allow you to break free of the too many “shoulds” that so often accompany holiday traditions.
Keep questioning and keep listening for your inner wisdom answers!
#4-Bring in lightness to all the heaviness of the worries!
- See the humor in how you got yourself in this worry cycle.
- Remember: laughter brings on endorphins
- Endorphins make you feel better!
- Add funny sounding voices to those nagging thoughts as you say them out loud!
- That should get you laughing.
- Watch this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_-q9xeOgG4
- It will get you smiling away and forgetting all those worries-guaranteed!
- Watch a funny holiday movie and keep the laughter going!
Ultimately, by putting an end to the worry cycle, you empower yourself to choose what is most important to you.
Consider these choices:
- Do you want to live your life being consistently controlled by all the “what-if’s” cycling around in your mind, causing you anxiety, stress and lack of excitement and joy?
- Or would you rather know you can put a stop to the worry cycle and feel freed up to enjoy your life so much more?
I’m guessing you’ll choose the second option.
With Thanksgiving happening in a few days and more family gatherings this year than last, this is the perfect time to pay attention the worry cycle that might be looping around and take these inspired action steps.
I know you’ll find yourself in a much better feeling state and enjoy the entire Holiday season so much more.
Please leave your comments below
shoot me an email: Jackie@JackieFoskett.com