Decreasing Worry and Stress

Every so often – well, quite often – I hear a client or acquaintance say something like “Every day I worry that [fill in the blank].” Oh, it might be that the dog will get sick, or the kids will be late for school. Perhaps that their spouse will get into a traffic accident or the plane will be late. I wonder if it really matters what the “blank” is, just so there’s something to worry about!

I’ve come to understand that worry, for some, is simply a state of being. Worriers have usually picked up the habit either from a parent, or from a series of bad experiences in their past. It becomes their default thought mechanism and a part of who they are. When I’m coaching a worrier, I might suggest that we work on changing the habit. After all, life is so much more pleasant when one doesn’t go through their day predicting a fatal outcome for every event. Well, from my perspective at least.

The interesting part about all of this is that worriers rarely want to change the habit. They “worry” about who they will be without this piece of their thought process in tact. It’s been a part of them for so long that they don’t know who they’ll be without it. I can understand that. If your mind is so busy with worry much of the time, what will you think about when you choose not to worry? Hummm, a dilemma – and really, it is a serious one.  When a chronic worrier comes into coaching, I do have a few tricks that often work….

Certainly, EFT – The Emotional Freedom Techniques – is number one in the bag of tricks. If we minimize or eliminate the emotional attachment to those negative memories, an individual can learn to let go of worrisome thinking. But then, what do we replace the worry thinking with? Well, positive thinking of course!

Even if you’re not a chronic worrier, try these things – it just feels good and you’ll find your energy taking upward spin. Begin with a gratitude journal. Every night take 5 or 10 minutes to write about the good things that happened during your day. Shoot for 3 or more things. Now, in the beginning that can feel like a stretch. But remember, you don’t have to win the lotto or a trip to Hawaii (although that may happen) to qualify your entry into a gratitude journal. It may be something like a stranger holding a door open for you or a beautiful butterfly that landed on your screen door. If you begin to truly embrace the beauty of these things, your energy will shift over time….probably sooner than you’d expect.

Another little exercise is to look for the pleasant things around you when you’re waiting at a stoplight or standing in line at the grocery store. A dad holding his toddler’s hand while walking down the sidewalk; a couple laughing over an “inside joke;” a grocery clerk going out of her way to help a customer. Notice the things you wouldn’t have paid attention to in the past…you’ll be amazed at the pleasant experiences that you’ll draw into your life.

There are many more ways to shift to positive thinking, but this is a good start. If you know a chronic worrier who wants to change, perhaps you can introduce them to a process or two that may help. They may benefit from the assistance of a life coach or a therapist, depending on how chronic the worrying is. Remember, suggesting help to someone who is ready is just another way of telling them that you care.