Don’t you just wish we could forecast tomorrow down to every detail? Wouldn’t it be nice to know how the rest of your life will pan out? Better yet, don’t you sometimes wish you knew what others were thinking, knew how they would react, and knew just how to best respond?
Life would be so much less stressful if we could eliminate the unknown and be in total control! Yet we all know that’s just not going to happen.
Stress is like a layer cake. We start with one base layer of stress and continue to add more and more layers, piling on the potential health risks. Critically, the more stressed we are, the less able to manage stress we become; growing ever taller, our layer cake begins to teeter. Feeling stressed has become a habit, and we lose our ability to sense when it is toppling out of control.
Have you ever paid attention to how much you worry? More often than not, a main ingredient of our mounting stress is worry. Worry about events that we can’t possibly predict. Worry about the worst possible scenario.
We have developed a signature program for Corporate Wellness clients that focuses on recognizing this worry for what it is—the uncontrollable. A vital part of our stress resilience coaching at Alexandria Wellness, our program helps you and your team understand how these worrisome thoughts evolve and guides you in developing strategies to find relief from the ensuing stress. Find out more about Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton on our website!
The rate of worry in our country is at an all-time high thanks in part to 24/7 news and social media. We worry about politics, weather events, the pandemic and returning to the office. Closer to home and heart, we worry about the mental health of our children, about paying the bills, and about what others think of us. Because our brain is pre-programmed to go “negative”, we tend to catastrophize. And the more we focus on our worries and negativity, the more things we find to worry about. The more things we worry about, the more stress we encounter.
So, how can you, how can your team, stop this endless worrying cycle?
According to a recent study investigating the outcome of our make-believe, potential misfortunes, 85% of what the study’s subjects were worried about did not happen. Of the 15% that did happen, 79% of those studied admitted either they could handle the challenge better than expected, or it taught them a lesson worth learning.
Over 500 years ago, French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” This quote may make you laugh, yet worry is literally killing us. Worry causes our stress hormone levels to rise, and their chronic elevation can lead to a variety of ailments: shrinking brain mass, lowered IQ, heart disease, premature aging, and weight gain. It can lead to a greater chance of dementia and Alzheimer’s and can exacerbate marital problems and family dysfunction.
Of all the thousands of thoughts we think, worry encompasses more than we’d like to admit. Worry is a leading reason Americans lose sleep at night. Worry keeps us from focusing on the moment. In addition to work and family anxieties, each day the news headlines broadcast negativity; how can we possibly keep ourselves in a calm, mindful space amidst so much gloom and uncertainty?
1) Recognize worry is stealing your time!
Over-analyzing things and worrying over possible outcomes lead to stress. Worry takes time and energy; worry is a common thief of your highly valuable time; and worry is a choice.
2) Let it go! Worry is in the future, and you are not a soothsayer.
Worry is like paying interest on a debt you might never owe. It is all based on unknown future outcomes. You don’t know it will occur. Remember that study? 85% of what subjects worried about did not happen.
3) Change the story
Find ways to frame your worries into opportunities to curate your life. Worried about tomorrow’s stressful commute? Design a peaceful sleep routine so that you can rise early to beat the rush. Too many tasks to complete in too little time? Employ strategies to become the master of your calendar.
Check out my video on Gratitude – another research-proven strategy to calm your worries!
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