Recently I was suffering from worry and anxiety on a particular issue, so as many people do, I looked to google for help. Common tips online included suppressing the fear and attempting to stay in the present moment. Other advice involved acknowledging the worries that enter your head, but not engaging with them, and refocusing on what you’re doing in that moment e.g. watching TV or reading a book.
This was all great advice for dealing with worry, but it didn’t remove the fact this very real problem still existed, and putting it to one side wasn’t the answer for me. Whilst tackling my challenges, I identified some real practical steps to help fix things, which you can easily follow.
I want to help anyone out there facing a problem, with what I have learnt – see my 7 steps below:
1) Put things in perspective
Although your problem might be killing you inside, if you still have your health and family are safe, then considering these types of blessings is a powerful way to ground yourself.
There is always someone else who would trade their problem for yours in a heart beat. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes worse-off than you, can sometimes help get perspective and reduce your worries.
2) Speak to a friend
This has to be one of the most effective steps to dealing with a problem that is causing you worry. If you have a friend or family member that typically has their head screwed on and you trust, go speak to them! A problem shared, is a problem halved. The chances are you will get some answers you hadn’t previously thought of and getting a different perspective can really help. Even better, If you know someone who has been through a similar situation that can give practical advice, this can also bring huge comfort to you!
3) Write down next steps
When facing a problem, there might not be any quick answers, but you can sometimes identify possible steps to rectify things or at least improve the situation.
By writing down ‘next steps’, you might be able to resolve part of the issue. There are many different problem solving models out there, here is an example I used:
1. Problem identification What is my concern?
2. Goal definition What do I want to achieve or change?
3. Brainstorming What can I do?
4. Consequences What might happen?
5. Decision How should I do it?
6. Implementation Do it!
7. Evaluation Did it work?
These seven simple steps can be applied to nearly all kinds of problems!
4) Don’t worry about things you cannot control
If any part of the problem is completely out of your control and dependant on external factors, you must reduce the time focussing on this! Put your time and effort into identifying what you can control and influence for the better.
5) Don’t dwell on “What if..?” scenarios
Don’t waste time imagining situations that ‘might’ happen, but in reality are quite unlikely – this is a huge waste of good brain time! Try to spot when you start asking yourself “What if…?” type questions. The vast majority of the scenarios you create like this are never likely to happen – so why waste time thinking about them? Don’t do it!
6) Manage the times when you worry
Become a “smart” worrier. The problem is real, you cant change that, but you need to stop your anxiety getting out of control. For this, you can try to manage your worry by setting aside specific times of day to engage in worrying (e.g. an hour when you’ve finished work). Also, take the time to soothe yourself when this period is over, just to get yourself back into balance.
7) How not to lose sleep by worrying
When I’m worried, it is really difficult to sleep. You might wake in the night and find yourself running through every possible problem that could arise and racking your brain for solutions. It’s unlikely you will come up with any master plan in the early hours of the morning and you’ll end up feeling tired (and probably anxious) the next day.
One solution for worries that keep you awake at night, is to keep a pen and paper by your bed. When you wake up worrying, simply write a list of things you need to do tomorrow (including dealing with the problem). You should find, that once this has been transferred onto paper, there is no longer any need to keep it in your head as well. You can let go temporarily and it can be dealt with tomorrow.
So. if you are feeling worried or anxious, I hope one of the steps above will help in some way. Be brave and keep things in perspective. Regardless of what you think today, it wont matter 5 years from now. Stay strong.