The first step in learning how to stop worrying begins with prevention so that you don’t have to do an unnecessary first step in having to undo the habit to begin with. Even if you come from a long line of worriers and have a propensity toward the behavior you can still enlist habits that will minimize the tendency to begin with. So begin with looking at your health habits and set an intention for sticking to a balanced diet.
Eliminate highly caffeinated drinks (coffee, black tea, and red bull) that will heighten anxiety if you are in a highly stressed circumstance. Sugar also intensifies the nervous system and causes mood swings. It is important that if you are going through a LifeQuake or are prone to worry, that you make sure you eat a balanced diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. When people cut out complex “carbs” as a way of losing weight it reduces serotonin, the neurotransmitter that keeps us calm, so by making sure that you eat brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole grain pasta, you will keep your brain well balanced.
Another very important health habit that helps to prevent or reduce worrying is getting eight hours sleep a night. If you make it a habit of not watching the news or any television programs that have a violent or negative emotional tone in the evening and you spend thirty minutes decompressing before getting into bed (taking an Epson Salt bath, reading books with an uplifting message, meditation,etc) you will find that your nervous system will allow you to sleep more easily through the night.
3) If you are awakened by worrisome thoughts, get out of bed. Go into another room and sit in a comfortable chair. Bring your awareness to your breath. Now, scan your body and notice where you are feeling anxious. Is it in your chest, your throat, your head, etc? Bring your breath to the place you are holding the fear and ask to be shown a symbol for the feeling. For example, it might be a broken down shopping cart. Ask the symbol, what is it afraid of? The answer might be – of being homeless or of not being able to buy food for your kids, etc
When I work with clients, sometimes they don’t know why they are worried. Scanning your body for where you are housing the worry and asking for a symbol makes it easier to get an answer. Our subconscious mind operates symbolically more than with words which is why our dreams are fraught with symbols.
Once you have a sense of what you are really afraid of, ask for a symbol that represents peace and trust. Trust is the antidote for worry. You cant worry and trust at the same time. So, say the symbol for trust is an open hand. Imagine the open hand replacing the broken down shopping cart in your body. Breathe into it and then place it inside your heart with your intention.
Now ask your heart for one message that will help resolve your fear. For example, if your worry is that you are going to lose your job, now that you have brought calm into your body, ask your heart what action step do you need to take on this issue. Should you be pro-active in looking at other career options right now, for example. People often sense months in advance that they might be in for a big career change but instead of taking action they put their head in the sand and hope the tsunami isn’t going to hit them.
Another tip for dealing with worry is from my book The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval. I call it Name that Fear. Make a list of five things you are worried about. Do the exercise above with breathing into where you are storing the fear. Now exaggerate the feeling. Make it even bigger. Tell yourself to worry even more about the issue. Give yourself permission to really intensify the feeling. The feeling will lessen simply by you giving it permission to get even bigger. Now next to the list of five things you are worried about, put your pen in your non-dominant writing hand and write a solution to the worry. By placing your pen in its non-dominant hand, you open the brain to more expansive options.
Some of our worries about moving into transition for example may come from childhood and we need to go back to the original experience and relive it with the feeling of safety. Think about all the times you have succeeded at things you were at first worried about. Now ask yourself, How old you were when you first started the pattern of worrying? Bring the successful adult you back to the first experience you had of being in a new situation where it was a traumatizing or painful event.
For example, see the six year old you at school for the first time. Imagine the adult you being with the six – year – old child protecting him or her from harm.
Surround yourself with positive people who think expansively and creatively and remain trusting even at times of uncertainty. Worry is infectious but so is happiness so if you tend to be a “worry wart”, stay away from negative people as much as possible.
And lastly, learn how to meditate. There are countless books on meditation techniques on the market and if that proves too difficult, go to my website, www.LifeQuake.net/products and buy The LifeQuake Method CD. There are guided meditations that can help break the worry habit and if all that fails, there is always PASTA!