Friday, February 19, 2016

6 Tools for Dealing with Worry



Stress, which often triggers worry, is your body's way of responding to any kind of demand.

It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.

For me, stress occurs when there is a gap between what I need to do and my sometimes negative perception of how well I will do it. The gap that occurs between expectation and delivery. The stresses in my life trigger fretting, worry and irritability. 

Worry is called Internal Stress 

-- and it is one of the most common occurrences. Consequently, it is one of the most important things to learn to handle in our daily lives. Over the years I’ve collected tools to help me deal with worry. Here are my top six. 

  1. Be aware. Listen to what the voice in your head is running for a sound track. Learn to identify worry related thoughts, assumptions about items you have no knowledge of and other negative chatter. “Hearing” it allows you to focus on it enough to use the rest of these tools to banish it.
  2. Re-frame your belief about worry. Statistics tell us that 92% of what we worry about never happens and the other 8% is out of our control. So why worry. Additionally, worrying about what might happen spoils our enjoyment of today. Remind your “thinker” of this statistic.
  3. Use tools to put worry in its place. Schedule a time each week to worry—say, Sunday morning at 8:00 am. When you start to worry and the stress builds, tell your “thinker” that you’ll worry about that topic at the worry-appointment on Sunday. Write down the topic on your “worry agenda.” Chances are by the time Sunday arrives, the worry will have dissipated or been dealt with. Additionally, when the worry pops up, talk to it. Tell it to get into a box and then visualize yourself putting the box up on a shelf for later.
  4. Dissipate that extra buildup of energy and strength. Put it to good use. Walk briskly around the block until you’re calmer. Run up and down a set of stairs. (If your health permits.) Even standing and doing a few jumping jacks or pumping your fists in the air repeatedly helps. If action isn’t possible, use deep breathing. Inhale deeply, through your nose, for a count of four, hold your breath for a seven-count and exhale through your mouth for an eight-count. Repeat three times.
  5. Write it out. Grab a pen and paper. At the top of the page, write, I am stressed because. Then for ten minutes write furiously putting on the page anything and everything that pops into your head. Chances are you will find a solution or realize the stress is misplaced.
  6.  Rewrite your internal chatter. Do this on paper. Write the old saying and then re-frame it. “Up until now I put everyone else first. Now I am learning to take care of me first.” Add a valid reason.  “…so I have the strength to help others better.” And then practice it until it is automatic.

The books shown are the ones that have helped me the most in getting a grip on worry and stress.

Do you have tools you use to corral your worry? Please share.


  1. I like the "schedule a time to worry".

    The other thing I do is The Jar. I don't just Visualize the box, I have a real Jar. I scribble the main idea of the Worry on a piece of paper and put it in the Jar.
    And then later, when I am relaxed, I go back and read what is in the Jar, and often what I thought was a worry, was nothing.
    Great post!

    1. Good suggestion, Suzanne. A real jar, or fancy box, is a good way to file-for-later. As you say, coming back later when you are relaxed puts a difference perspective on things. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I do number 5 and 6 a lot. When I really get down to it, it's a spiritual matter for me. Do I trust God on this issue? Is He telling me to act on something, or to be still and trust Him? For a another approach, I suggest writing down the worst thing(s) that could happen. Then decide what might come of each. One might realize it's not that bad or how to take action on the things within one's control. But for those who only get more strung out by the imagination conversations in our own heads, I suggest to just stop doing that! For me it depends on how troublesome the concern is. Often, I have to put it out of my mind before I get more worked up. Seems I'm a bit wishy-washy on my approach.

    1. The bottom line is probably that trust. But it is the uncontrolled chatter of our thinker that sidetracks us. And I wouldn't say wishy-washy, each situation needs it's own attack plan.

  3. Hi Mahrie, Excellent tips! I particularly like #6...need to work on internal chatter and tame my monkey mind.

    1. Those monkey minds - hard to herd and hard to corral!