Worry is like a rocking chair–it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Unknown

My worries have circled around my head for years.  They have sapped my strength and made me feel overwhelmed.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a worrier.  I am.  (Remember 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Jewish – says it all, right?)

Research about worrying says:

  • About 85% of the things we worry about never happen.
  • If what we worry about does happen, 80% of us said we handled the outcome better than we thought we would.
  • People who let go of worries instead of stressing over them are much healthier than those who don’t.

I could take this two ways: (1) I could worry about things I don’t want to happen, making it more likely than not that the “thing” wouldn’t happen (lawyer brain); or (2) I could worry less.

I’m choosing the latter.

Did you know that the stress hormones in your brain have been linked to shrinking brain mass, lowered IQ, heart disease, premature aging (is there such a thing?), family dysfunction (I thought that was normal), clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Yikes!

We (ok, me) need to get a f***ing handle on habitual worrying.  

About a month ago I was taking with someone about how I was physically feeling – his response, “You worry too much. Spend a month not worrying or if something comes to mind that’s a worry, remind yourself that you’re really enjoying life and you’re not going to worry. See what happens and we’ll discuss again in a month (over wine!).”

Yesterday was a month. Let me tell you what I learned:

  1. I was happier. I literally told myself every time a worry came to mind, “You’re so lucky to be here today!” Honestly.  I felt lighter every time I said it.  At first I had to say it at least 5 times for each worry.  Now I don’t even realize I’m even saying it!
  2. I got my energy back. I think I was losing so much mind energy that it affected my physical energy. And, I went off caffeine during this time too!

Look, what do we know about s*** in our brain?  Let’s dumb this down to toddler level: When our toddler’s (or our partner’s) having a tantrum, we don’t reason with them.  We distract, we bribe, we redirect.

Why do we think we’re any different?

Distracting myself with my mantra or a moment of quiet thankfulness has allowed me to redirect my toddler-like brain. It seriously works.  I might even call myself a recovering worrier!

Look, worrying is a completely normal human emotion and let’s not beat ourselves up for being normal.  But we can reduce our stress levels and boost our positive emotions if we can at least find a consistent strategy of reaching our goal of worrying less.

Hey, I’m not even going to worry about the next time I’ll blog. 🙂

Have a great week!