Whether you're worried about family, finances or world events, feeling concerned about the big issues in your life is normal. It's a way of thinking about all eventualities and trying to plan ahead.

Re-discover your Zen with these top tips

 

Whether you're worried about family, finances or world events, feeling concerned about the big issues in your life is normal. It's a way of thinking about all eventualities and trying to plan ahead. Everyone worries occasionally but if you find yourself caught in a cycle of worry, it's time to break free. Here's how to do it.

 

1) Don't Catastrophize

Catastrophizing means thinking the worst. A bit like if you are sitting on an airplane convinced it's going to crash. When you worry you are assuming the worst will happen. But this does not reflect reality. The chances of your plane crashing are about one in nine million - so very unlikely! Constantly thinking about negative 'what ifs' does not make them any more or less likely to happen. So, prepare as best you can for any given situation, then stop thinking the worst will happen. Instead, consider 'how realistic is my worry?' Anything could happen but it probably won't. Focusing on the worst possible scenario is a waste of your mental energy.

 

2) All things will pass

So, say something bad does actually happen. Something embarrassing or a low-level mistake (not something catastrophic). Your feelings of embarrassment will not last forever. These feelings will pass. You will get through it.

 

3) Breathe!

Yes, really. When you're worried you tend to hold onto your breath because your body automatically tenses up. Breathing slowly and deeply is an extremely simple way of relaxing yourself if you're beginning to worry. Focus on the act of breathing in through your nose to the count of three, very slowly. Imagine drawing the breath right down into your stomach. Then release the breath through your mouth to the slow count of three. Repeat this breathing exercise a couple of times. This will stop you panicking and allow you to take control of your worries if they are spiralling.

 

4) Talk positive

If you feel a worry overwhelming you, say something positive. Something like: 'I can cope' or 'everything is fine' or 'this will be very good'. Say it out loud if possible, or in your mind if not. Saying something positive helps you cut through the negativity of worry and refocuses your mind on the fact that you will be fine! Speaking out loud, especially, makes the positive statement feel real.

 

5) Disconnect from worry

If a worrying though is blocking up your mind, you can push it away by disconnecting from it. Do this by imagining your worry as a red ball. Picture your worry coming together in the shape of a red ball, then see that ball rolling away from you. Watch it getting smaller and smaller as it rolls into the distance and then it disappears.

 

 

6) Think then forget

Instead of letting worrying intrude into every waking thought, set aside 20 minutes a day to give your worries some headspace. Then forget them for the rest of the time. During the time you are thinking about your worries, jot them down and write down some solutions for each one. Gradually take action to combat each worry. This way you will feel as if you have done something about your worries, making it easier to forget them.

 

7) And release...

You cannot control every aspect of your life. You might get stuck in traffic and be late for your meeting, you might not get a job you want, the weather might be awful on the day you want to go out. These are all things beyond your control. So accept and release those worries because it really is pointless worrying about what you cannot control.

 

8) Pleasant distraction

Distracting your mind is an effective way of getting rid of worries. So try something you enjoy that is absorbing to you. Perhaps walking or reading or baking or music or gardening or crafts. Switching your mind from task to task keeps you engaged and reduces the chances of your mind wandering into worries!

 

9) Stay connected

Social connections are an important defence against worries. Talking to loved ones about what's on your mind allows you to get a sense of perspective on worries. They can help you see that your worries are unfounded, or help you to find constructive solutions to end your worrying.

 

10) Work-out worries

Exercise can help diminish your worries. Keeping active and moving your body releases natural feel-good chemicals into your body that will help with feelings of anxiety. While it won't make worries go away, it will help you cope with them more easily. Try a brisk 30 minute walk everyday. Or find a sport you enjoy.

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