Worry has a way of clouding things, doesn’t it? We think that by worrying, we’re being diligent. We think that worrying protects us or that we’re somehow anticipating or warding off a catastrophe. Or we think there’s nothing we can do, and we are doomed. These kinds of thoughts paralyze us. They take us to a very dark place.
Thankfully, there are many things we can do about our worry—which revolve around writing. For instance, when you find yourself worrying, try these three tips from the journal Write It Down: Let It Go by therapist Lindsay Kramer.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
- Carve out time for a “worry period.” Instead of letting worry stalk you every second of your day, schedule a specific time to worry. During this time, write down anything and everything that’s troubling you. But leave the rest of the day worry free. “This will encourage you to use the journal as a container and to practice leaving it all on the page,” Kramer writes. If you find yourself worrying at other times, gently remind yourself that you can focus on that later, during your worry session.
- Take on a different perspective. Review your worries, and consider whether you can look at them from another perspective. How would you view your worry a few months from now or a year from now? How would your mentor (or anyone else whose opinion you deeply trust) look at this situation? What is really underlying your fears? Can you adopt a different perspective with this underlying reason?
- Figure out what’s fixable. List all your worries. Then identify which worries are solvable and which are unsolvable. For solvable worries, brainstorm different solutions. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Make a list of your options—even if they seem absurd. Sometimes, it’s the silliest ideas that lead to real breakthroughs. For unsolvable worries, realize that “it isn’t your worry to deal with and you have the luxury of letting it go,” Kramer writes. Of course, this might be easier said than done. Again, if you’re having a hard time letting go, write about it. Write about why it’s so hard. Write about how much better you’ll feel after you release it. Write about what you’ll do after you’ve let go.
Another technique that I find to be especially helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed is to ask questions. Because the right questions can center us, and help us identify the next step to take.
What’s also helpful is to remind yourself of the futility of worrying. Kramer includes this quote from the incredible Corrie Ten Boom: “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength, carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Worry also empties today of its joy and peace.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can work with your worry. You can explore it. You can reduce it. And you can channel it into actions that actually help and support you.