8 Tips for Breaking the Worry Cycle

Our minds are incredibly powerful.  They have the ability to help us create amazing things…but they also have the ability to torture us.  The perfect example is worrying.

We’ve all experienced worry – it’s a natural human phenomenon. Worry happens when you have thoughts or emotions about a potential threat or problem in the future – when you imagine something going wrong or something bad happening.

This can serve a purpose if you use it to help you identify issues that you can get prepared for.  However it can be detrimental and an energy drain if it leads to rumination and constant feelings of anxiety.

The key to alleviating the worry cycle is to shift worry from anxiety and rumination to concern and preparation.

In this article we will look at a process you can use to step through your worries and several strategies that you can use to ease your mind.

  1. The first step is to acknowledge your worries – give them time.  The more you try to resist something the more it will persist.  It’s like trying not to imagine a green monkey wearing a big orange cowboy hat sitting on a purple giraffe in the middle of your kitchen…you just can’t help it.  The best way to stop rumination is to write it down and then go to step two.
  1. Second – put boundaries around your worries.  Set aside a specific time to focus on your worries.   During this time, write down anything that you’re worried about.  If something comes up later in the day…just add it to the list and tell yourself that you can think about it tomorrow during your allotted time. The process of writing the worry down lets your mind rest because it knows you’ve got it on the agenda. 
  1. Third change your language.  Language is a very powerful tool – it creates your experience.  Instead of using the word “worried” which automatically triggers a feeling of anxiety in most people, use the word “concerned” followed by the word “prepared”.  For example instead of saying, “I am worried about the economy and losing my job” you could say, “I am concerned about the economy and losing my job.  To get prepare I am going to examine my budget and add to my emergency savings fund.  I might also consider a part time job.”
  1. Fourth shift your worry into action.  Tell your mind what you are going to do about the situation.  For each concern map out a plan.  Put it in writing so that each time that concern comes up you can ease your mind by reviewing your plan. 
  1. Focus on what you want NOT on what you don’t want.  Your mind is very powerful.  Your thoughts trigger both your conscious mind and your subconscious mind to create whatever you focus on.  Each time you worry it strengthens the neural pathways in your brain about that problem.  To reprogram your brain, focus on what you want – not on what you don’t want.  This will retrain your brain to help you create what you want.  Visualization and affirmations are powerful tools to help you do this.
  1. Sixth, focus on what is working in your life, not on what is not working.  Shifting worry thoughts to thoughts of gratitude can help ease your mind and create positive energy throughout your body.  Did you know that multiple research studies have shown that practicing gratitude actually creates happiness?  Positive energy and positive thoughts are essential for creating what you want in your life.
  1. Seventh, look at what you can control versus what you can’t control.  If the thing you are worried about is something you can control, such as building up your savings account, then take action on that.  However, if it’s is something that you have no control over, such as when someone dies, then worrying about it only creates negative energy that doesn’t serve you.  Depending on your spiritual beliefs, you may want to create a “ritual” or practice where you turn over your worries to that which is greater than you. 
  1. Eight, adopt a practice that can help you relax.  Many people find that meditation, exercise, or journaling can help them ease their mind.  A daily practice of relaxation can help neutralize the impact of worrying

Finally, remember that worrying and rumination doesn’t serve you – it steals the beauty of the present moment and can rob you of your happiness.  Learning to focus on what you can do versus things outside of your control can lead to a feeling of personal power versus feeling like a victim of the future.

Worry is a phenomenon that our kids will also experience.  One of the greatest gifts you can give them is to teach them how to turn worry into action.