The verdict is in, as if we needed to be told, worry is not good for us. In fact, health AND longevity are now being linked to a positive, sunny outlook on life. But it is not as if those of us who worry need to be convinced that worry is bad. Most of us who worry would readily admit that worry is something we would rather NOT be doing, and yet, there we are, stuck in the worry-trap none the less.
I was stuck there for years myself and it was miserable. It made life miserable for my poor husband too, who spent years listening to me recount everything I was ruminating about. Although, thankfully, he was a wise enough man NOT to tell me he was miserable ;). I won’t go into the whole story now. I talk more about my struggle with worry in 5 Reasons Why you Should Unfriend Worry Today, if you’re curious. It seems a little humorous now that I have overcome worry (Like 99 percent overcome. And yes, my husband is happy man!), but back in the day it was not funny AT ALL.
This is one of the main reasons I was excited to start this blog. Over the last decade my life has completely turned around for the better as a result of life and health practices I have implemented. And I knew that if I have been helped this much, they might just help other people as well. I can hardly believe that I live a mostly worry-free life now. I can’t even tell you how amazing that feels and how freeing it has been for me. My mental and emotional energy is no longer sucked into a waste vacuum that worry creates, and I am free to focus on the things that really matter in life. Like my family and writing this blog :).
Living in a trap of worry is no way to live. It’s paralyzes you and limits you and stifles amazing possibilities for your future and makes you miserable in the present. It also puts a lot of stress on your relationships. But how to get out? Often wanting to free ourselves of worry only leads to “worrying about worrying”. And research has shown that tactic is a dangerous cycle that only descends to MORE distress. I definitely was familiar with that cycle and the ensuing distress. Here are the things that I have done that have helped banish worry in my life.
Supplement with Vitamin D3
This one has been SO big for me! I really can’t recommend this enough. I feel like my life completely opened up for me once I corrected low vitamin D levels (which the majority of Americans have, by the way). As in I had clearer thoughts, anxiety and depression disappeared, had more energy, required less sleep etc. If there is a miracle pill, this is it folks! Kidding aside, I feel that this one act has been foundational to my success at combating worry. Grassroots Health has a ton of information on their website about supplementing with this oh-so important vitamin, check them out!
Exercise is probably the next big thing, after vitamin D, that has helped combat worry in my life. I can tell a difference if I miss it now. My mom always walked when I was growing up, so I think it was only natural for me to be interested in exercise as I became an adult. Once I had Haddie, though, I wasn’t as good about always working it into my schedule. I was hit or miss. And when my worry was at its worst, right after Abigial’s birth, I wasn’t exercising at all. I didn’t realize this when I first started back to exercising, but researchers have found that regular physical activity can actually help with anxiety disorders. That you can quite literally exercise worry away! If that doesn’t motivate us to get our walking or running shoes on, I don’t know what will.
See First Morning Sun
This may sound crazy, but seeing first morning sun has had a big impact on my ability to avoid worry. This little “trick” is important enough, that improvement in SAD has been connected with it. It’s interesting to note that those who worry are also more prone to struggle with depression. So maybe that is why I have found this practice to help with worry, I don’t know. I just know that if I miss too many mornings, I start to have some of those old feelings creep back. I should note that it is even beneficial to do on overcast days (I go sun, rain, or snow… we do live in Boston :).
Adjusting Thought Patterns
Another thing that has helped me keep worry away in my life has been adjusting the dialogue in my head. I feel like this one has only been possible since I made the three changes I mention above. They have helped give me the healthy mental frame of mind to attack bad thought patterns. In days-gone-by, when I was not so healthy, any attempt to fix worry only spiraled into “worrying about worrying”. I heard another blogger recently refer to this dialogue we experience in our thoughts as a mental script, and I liked that. We all have a script that we run in our head. In the past, mine was not healthy, and it resulted in a “paralyzed”, unhealthy life. Now, if a worrisome thought wants to creep into my script, I am able to acknowledge it as that and move on. I don’t let my mind dwell on it.
Let it Go (my girls would be excited about this heading)
Last, but certainly not least, “letting go” has played a huge role in me being able to be worry-free. It is recognizing that there are things in life that are out of our control and being okay with that. For me, as a Christian, that means trusting that God has a plan, even when I can’t understand what is happening. There is something incredibly freeing that happens when we release control of things we really don’t have control over anyway. I am incredibly sentimental and the thoughts of anything happening to my family is enough to make me tear up in bed at night. But worrying about all the things that could possibly happen to everybody I love and care about is not helpful or healthy. As I have learned to release the things that aren’t mine to control anyway, I have found freedom like you can’t believe. Including freedom from worry.
I am so excited to share these things that have done an amazing job of transforming this worry expert into a FORMER worry expert. Although, I am not a physician or mental health expert and seeking help in certain situations may be preferable, my experience has been that implementing these 5 things has been enough to help me kick the worry habit. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me!