In my previous blog, Duck & Cover, I provided a short history lesson as to why we worry. Next, let’s take a look at how you can manage your thinking and mute your worry, now.
Worry without resolution is a total waste of the imagination.
Worrying is the imagination out of control.
The world doesn’t care if you are awash in anxiety. Since the world is not going to change, what can you do?
Here is the good news. You have the ability, right now, to stop worrying and reduce your anxiety. Every one of these 5 Strategies will help reduce your anxiety because each is based in the brain science of the imagination.
- GIVE WORDS TO ANXIETY:
Studies show that bringing your worry into the spotlight, labeling it, and talking with someone you trust about your fear about health, finances, relationships, approval or work, instantly mutes the anxiety. Like letting air out of a balloon, bouncing your fear or worry off someone close to you, gives perspective, calms the mind and gives clarity to your thinking. This tip will set you up to take action!
- IDENTIFY WHAT YOU CAN CHANGE AND WHAT YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER:
Roy T. Bennett in The Light in the Heart writes: “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”
This is a simple and powerful exercise that has worked hundreds of times with my clients: List everything you are worried about. Reread and cross out everything over which you have no control. Highlight what you do have control over.
Ask yourself, “What is one small action step I can take right now to start improving my present situation?”
Write it down! I.e. Make a call and reconnect with a friend. Take a short walk in nature. Cook one healthy meal. Learn one new thing today. Read a couple of articles in magazines. If you are computer savvy, subscribe to your favorite subjects on Flipboard or listen to TED talks on your favorite subject.
- TAKE ACTION:
Worry freezes us into inaction. Inaction makes us worry even more! Those who get lost in high anxiety dislike taking action. Therefore, the most important solution to reducing anxiety and fear is to TAKE ACTION.
Consciously taking action takes us out of ourselves and reduces anxiety.
In Strategy #2 you identified those things over which you have control and pinpointed one single, small action step you can take now! Take it. If not now, when?
- STOP IT!
Catch yourself when you are worrying and, if you are alone, shout out: “STOP IT!” If you are in the company of others, say to yourself: “STOP IT!”
As ridiculous as this may sound, it works.
- PERFORM ACTS OF KINDNESS:
Here is a harsh fact. Worry is all about you and, if left unchecked, it can isolate you. Studies in brain science show that being isolated perpetuates worry.
Here’s some very good news. Studies in brain science prove that kindness triggers the reward system in our brain releasing dopamine. Dopamine is what gives us a natural high and triggers positive emotion. Kindness immediately reduces anxiety and halts worry, and it can infect others with joy.
Put these 5 Strategies into action now and change your brain for the better.
Here is a parting thought: Forget about “duck and cover.” Most things we worry about never happen.