This is an extract from my days of writing features for magazines:
We all have days when we’re bogged down with worry and negativity: you’ve spotted damp patches on your bedroom wall, you’ve been overlooked for promotion again and, as the final straw, you’ve lost your mobile phone. It’s all going horribly wrong and you’re downright miserable. But are we all wasting too much time worrying? Does your thinking go round in circles and get you nowhere? If so, you could end up feeling stressed-out and stuck, with your self-esteem hitting rock-bottom. Instead of tearing your hair out, try these 5 tips for curing worry (more coming soon) - once and for all.
Here’s how you can get from a place of muddled thinking (going round in circles) - to effective problem-solving. The ultimate antidote to worrying is to Take Action!
1. Clear your Mind-Clutter: Studies have shown that putting pen to paper to dump our troubles has many health benefits. Writing it down, in the form of a Worry Map is good for us in terms of beating stress and keeping a healthy state of mind.
2. Create a Worry Map: Label all the issues you can think of that are contributing to your anxiety, on an A4 sheet, you get everything together and can take a step back. Put ‘My Worries’, or any phrase you like, in the middle and write each issue, dotted around the page, until you have captured every single issue, large or small for now (you can always add to it). Then sit back and take a look over the whole page.
3. Find the biggest worry: Check which worries are most urgent – use highlighter pen or a ring to mark them in some way. We often get distracted by small concerns instead of putting our energies into what’s really important. Some worries may be connected (link them with arrows or lines) - you may that find once you tackle one worry, others simply disappear!
4. Who is in Control?: Check what level of control you have over your biggest worries. Check ‘external’ control ( ‘I have control over getting my mother to the GP) and ‘internal’ control (‘I can’t do anything about my mother’s operation, but I can change the way I feel about it’). For example, you might believe that you have no control in a situation such as your ‘mother being ill in hospital’. While you may not have control over her condition, you do have a say in how often you see her and your general attitude to the whole situation.
5. Is your worry in the here and now? We often worry about things we’ve said or done in the past or are fearful of what we might face in the future. Check the time-frame of your worry, even if it’s in the past you may still be able to take action to deal with it (such as speak to someone who has upset you.)
For more on writing and maps to handle worrying, see The Self-Esteem Journal
More tips on How to Beat Worrying soon.