Category Archives: how to stop worrying

Monday Makeover: Confessions of a Giant Worry Wart

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I wake up. I rub my sleepy eyes and walk slowly down the hall to the kitchen. I take my thyroid medication. I fill a cup of coffee and I sit down at my computer, and I worry.

Was I too loud when I woke up? Will my babies stay asleep? What will I write today? My head is so foggy, and what if I can’t feel my characters? What if the pictures I pick are not exactly what I mean?

   What if…

I see my babies. They crawl into bed and beg for snuggles. We cuddle a bit, and suddenly a new string of worries grabs me: what if they don’t always have their health, what if they get sick, or go to school and someone bullies them? What if I didn’t show them the right values? Did I love them enough?

   What if…

I go to work. I sit at my desk sipping coffee. The phone rings. I answer and hang up after making sure the person on the other end of the conversation felt listened to. My brain runs off again: What if I didn’t say the right thing, or I didn’t give them what they wanted to hear? What if I don’t make my personal deadlines for the day, or I don’t communicate well? What if I walk down the hall and I talk out loud or accidentally sing a song out loud that’s running through my head and someone laughs?

I do talk out loud. I don’t know if it’s a mom thing and having two small children where I’m constantly talking out loud and explaining and animating the choices I make to teach my kids important values. I do wonder about what to write and where the creativity will come from. I wonder if I’m saying the right words. I wonder if people understand me. I’m worried about my kids because I see them as the two precious clean slates gifted right into my hands. I wonder about my message every moment and if I’m also asking the right questions.

So what next?

First the mind creates the worries. Then the body reacts. My stomach gets tight. My breath becomes shallow. I could go on with my list, because if I’m not careful, they start to race through my mind again.

Worry is my biggest vice. It sends me into a downward spiral where I over-think the easiest solution, and the funniest thing is, I was born with this vice, and I believe, we can change behaviors. We can teach ourselves newer and better ways to react. It’s hard. It’s not easy and that’s why I’m tackling worry this week as my Monday Morning Make Over.

So what will I do about it?

First thing first: I acknowledge my worries. I tell myself to stop. I take several deep breaths. Sometimes I have to distract myself. I look at quotes. I look at pictures. I smile really big at myself in the mirror. My training in 7 habits comes in handy and I draw out the circle of influence diagram. I’m attaching a link to a YouTube video if you’d like to see how this diagram plays out.

Have you heard of the circle of influence? It’s a really great graphic organizer to get your thoughts out there and map out what you can influence and change.

Movement: I learn by moving. When my stress and worry takes control, I have to do something physical to get it out. I go to the gym. I practice Yoga or Pilates in the living room with my kids. I know I mentioned in my last post, emptying the dishwasher helps redirect my thoughts.

Hugs: Ever not felt better after a hug? Maybe it hasn’t taken away the pain or the worry, but for me, there’s something about a really great hug that helps me find an instant smile. When I smile, my mood changes. I don’t feel distress. That’s why I love to spread them.

Trust: I have found sometimes, by turning over my worries to my prayers, I feel a certain comfort in knowing it’s out there. I feel release. I feel hope. And when my worries slip away at some point because they usually do, I think it’s because He is always up there listening, helping carry the burden right along with me.

Last thing: I talk with my friends. I reach out to the people who love me and can help anchor me back on planet earth. My best friend T helps me, my good friend Tracy. Both of them are practical, and to the point, and remind me to let it go.

I’ll check in on Sunday and tell you how it went! And by the way, here’s a list of some of my tricks and some others to try!