Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. - Leo Buscaglia
Everybody knows worry is bad for you, yet we continue to do a lot of it. People are worried about their jobs, the economy, their finances, their children. I figure this is a good time to have a look at worry and its effects on your life and overall wellness. First, we need to understand what motivates us to worry.
Why We Worry
- Worry is a way to feel like we are accomplishing something (even though your not, at least your thinking about it).
- Worry shows you care about others, (i.e.- if I don’t worry about my children I am not a good parent) even though worrying about your children doesn't give them inspiration
- Worry creates a cortisol rush, the stress hormones involved in the fight or flight response that allow you to feel “ready” if something stressful would happen.
- Worry helps you prepare mentally. If you imagine the worst and then it happens, at least you won't be surprised.
Worry avoids change because when you worry you usually don’t take action.
- Some people think worry is actually virtuous (i.e.- I'm not being responsible if I don’t worry about my finances).
Overall you can see that none of these reasons to worry holds any validity. Over 90% of stress comes from worrying about the past and projecting fear on the future, less than 10% of our stress is about the present moment (Dr. Earl Nightingale, This is Earl Nightingale, 1969). 90% of what we worry about doesn’t even take place. Imagine the toll worry and the added stress takes on your wellness.
-My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened. - French philosopher Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, 1950
Agonizing over things we can’t control gives our power away.
Because our brains can’t tell the difference between a real event and an imaginary one, we respond the same way emotionally. Our body releases stress hormones just at the thought (worry) that something could happen. Over time these hormones cause wear and tear on our body and create illness and affect your quality of life. Your overall health and wellness suffers, day to day energy will decline, stress levels will escalate.
How to stop worrying and be inspired to inspire wellness in your life
Today, if you're worried about your job, finances or the economy these are very real worries and we don’t mean to discount them. Yet it helps to understand and have control over the worry process. Whether what you worry about comes to life or not (hopefully not) you're still wreaking the same stress and wear and tear on your body by virtue of worrying.
Stop the Worry Cycle
Write your worries down. Once you write them down on paper they don’t occupy the same space in your mind. Once you have a list, decide what concrete action you can do to release some of your worries.
Distract yourself. When you find yourself worried about something, find a healthy distraction. Anything that elicits positive emotion and that will take your mind off your troubles will work.
Leadership should encourage people to Laugh and have fun at work. Adopting a humorous view of life’s difficulties can take the edge off everyday stressful situations. Being able to laugh stress away is one of the smartest ways you have to protect yourself from the harmful effects of stress. It has been clinically proven by Dr. Lee Berk at Loma Linda University that laughing decreases cortisol levels. Laugh for no reason at all and you will change your stress level.
Decide why you’re worrying. Do you worry because it makes you feel you are accomplishing something or helps you prepare just in case? Does some part of you think it makes you more responsible and shows you care? Once you understand your motive it makes it easier to let the worries go.
Have gratitude for what you have. Breathe deeply and think positively.