At its essence, worry is a useful response, helping us to anticipate — and to avoid — danger by taking constructive action. However, too often, worry becomes an endless loop that makes it hard to focus and perform, and stresses our physical systems.
How well do you handle worry? Take this self-quiz to find out:
1. I seem confident and happy-go-lucky to everyone who knows me. That’s because I keep my worries to myself. I don’t want to burden anyone by sharing my concerns.
2. I write about my fears and concerns. This seems to take some of the power out of them. After writing, creative solutions seem to just show up.
3. I lie in bed for two or three hours at night worrying, just hoping to fall back asleep. I feel tired all the time.
4. Getting involved with my family, friends, church, synagogue or mosque, neighbourhood, organizations, etc., gives me the sense of being part of something bigger than myself. When I turn the focus from inside to out, my worries seem to dissipate.
5. When I find myself worrying, I get up and move around. Action seems to relieve my worry and gives me a better perspective.
6. What really works for me when I’m feeling tense and worried is to take a long walk, run or bike ride, or go work out. It seems that when I exercise more, I worry less.
7. When my worries spin on in an endless loop, I know it’s time for a gratitude list. Focusing on the things I am grateful for is like turning my worries inside out.
8. My worries seem to come from nowhere, and they feel uncontrollable. When I’m in the grip of them, I feel incapable of coming up with any solutions.
9. I worry mostly about things that, in fact, have a very low probability of actually occurring — going bankrupt, dying in a plane crash, getting fired, etc.
10. Rather than let my nighttime thoughts keep me from getting to sleep, I focus on physical sensations, such as the feel of the sheets, warmth of my own body or counting my breaths.
11. I try to catch my worrying as close to its beginning as possible. Then I take some time to relax, breathe deeply and get centred again.
12. When I’m immersed in my worried thoughts, I have, but rarely notice, physical sensations, such as a speedy heartbeat, perspiration and shakiness.
13. The more repetitive my worrying becomes, the more persuasive it seems.
14. I worry about others because I don’t really trust that they can take care of themselves.
15. I set aside a specific time to worry so that I’m not worrying all the time. I then sit down, do a few relaxation techniques first so that I can think more clearly, and then carefully consider my options.
16. When I’m concerned about something, I take action. Then I let go, trusting that I’ve done all I can do.
Shifting your worry to wonder opens up possibilities for curiosity and action, rather than dread and immobility.
What will happen? How will it all turn out? How can I act to make the outcome the best it can be? If you would like to work on worrying or any other matters, please don’t hesitate to call.