Spending your time worrying is pointless—we all know it—but it’s easier said than done to kick certain habits. This article will give you concrete advice to kick the habit of worrying once and for all.
1. Look for a Solution
I’ve traveled the world. I’ve stood with no money in Paris, and I’ve been stranded in more unlikely situations than I care to remember. One happened just yesterday, and even I thought the situation looked bleak until I managed to solve it.
What I’m trying to say is that I know what it’s like to face situations that are more than just a little bit worrisome, but somehow I got through them all and I accredit that to one single idea: there’s always a solution. Still, I sometimes forget this and start worrying about things.
The truth is: the time you spend worrying could be time spent looking for a solution. The most important thing is to truly believe there is one because that will make you look up from your pit of despair and worry and find a solution.
If you feel a sting of worry, acknowledge it. Is the worry justified? Is there a problem? If so, what’s the solution? And remember: even if your odds look meager, there is a solution out there. Set about finding it. It will come to you, but you have to keep your eyes open for it.
To start, write down 10 ideas on how to solve your problem from the outrageous (that you’d probably never pull off, like marrying a billionaire tomorrow) to the more practical.
2. If You’re Having a Meltdown… and Even if You’re not
Some things are more than a little bit troubling. If your worry reaches epic proportions, then you need to snap out of it. The best way? Have a cold bath. If you don’t have a bath, have a shower. Even better: jump into the ocean or a lake for a swim.
Does this sound like torture to you? It is. But, the moment you submerge yourself into an icy cold bath, you forget about your worry, your survival instincts kick in and your mind clears. You need to stay submerged for a minimum of about 30 seconds to make it work. Longer if you can, but not too long if it’s very cold! Make sure to get your head wet—you need your mind to be cleaned!
If you can then go for a run or brisk walk, have another cold bath and sleep on it. By now, you’ve cleared your head, had a change of scenery, cleared your head again and in sleep allowed your mind to rearrange the pieces of the puzzle to make sense of it all.
Having regular walks/jogs, taking cold baths and sleeping well will help you in general when it comes to clearing your mind from worry.
Often, what you realize is that you are stuck in your little world—your little box. Outside that world is a whole other world. Once you clear you mind and have a change of scenery you realize this.
Ponder this: your neighbor lives only a few steps away in all likelihood. Yet his or her life is entirely different from yours. If you took a step to the right, or to the left, if you viewed your life from a different perceptive, decided to act following a slightly different mindset than your regular one, your life would be different too.
Sometimes a trip somewhere will help too—a trip where you have lots of walks and cold baths, or swims in the ocean.
This might sound ludicrous: if you have a buzzing sound of worry in your mind, how are you going to meditate? Well, you sit somewhere comfortable, in lotus position if you fancy, then you close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you and your breathing, which you slow down. Breathe through your nose, slowly and deeply.
If listening to the sounds around you isn’t enough, start chanting. Choose words you want to focus on like love, truth and understanding then chant them. You can also listen to a guided meditation. Deepak and Oprah have some great ones and offer free ones a couple of times a year.
By meditating, you learn to take charge of your own mind. You choose your thoughts. What’s more, meditation is another way of getting a bird’s eye perspective just as having a good snooze, meditation will help you see your life with fresh eyes. It’s like rising above the problems and seeing them from new angles.
I once heard Marianne Williamson say that her teacher told her that for every problem, meditation is the solution. If you don’t solve the problem, meditate more. Answers come to you when you are in a state of clarity.
4. Watch Your Thoughts
We aren’t aware of most of our thoughts. We get a feeling inside, but we don’t really look to see what caused the feeling in the first place. If we worry, that worry springs from thought. Unhelpful thoughts.
Start paying attention to your thoughts. Put little stickers around the house and set your phone alarm to go off throughout the day to remind you to check in to see what you are really thinking.
Have a bracelet as well, which you change from one hand to another when you catch yourself worrying.
As my drama teacher once said about thoughts: seeing is undoing. When you see your thoughts, learn to acknowledge them instead of pushing them away. “Hang with the tension,” as another teacher of mine said. Hang with the uncomfortable feeling until it melts away, and realize that your worrying is thoughts in your head. You are creating them. You could be creating solutions and love instead.
Don’t allow your mind to be on autopilot. Take charge. You will thank yourself for it later.
5. Stories can Change Your Perspective
Immerse yourself in stories that beat the odds. Read The Barefoot Lawyer. Read Nelson Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom. Read Anita Moorjani’s story about beating cancer. Look to the people who defied the odds. Look to the people who found solutions.
Here’s a Bonus Tip…
The most important thing is to act from a space of calm. When you worry, you make decisions with a clouded mind. It’s better to act than sit around and worry, but you have to act from a space of love and calm. So, follow the tips above and then decide what to do once you have a clear mind.