Anxiety is a sneaky one! It creeps in and convinces us that these things are true and important to contemplate. One of my favourite quotes about anxiety is from the ‘wear sunscreen’ song by Baz Luhrmann from 1997 (I’m dating myself here). In the song, it says “worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.” It goes on to talk about how most of the things we worry about don’t happen.
Is that not the unwelcome truth, though? When we worry about something, we somehow convince ourselves we are solving these problems. If we are in problem-solving mode or processing-an-upsetting-event mode, that is very different from anxiety-spinning-tornado mode!
Step 1: Write it down.
I would encourage you to take a blank sheet (or two) of paper and write down all the things that worry you or have ever worried you. Take your time, you might not be able to think about all these things right away.
Step 2: Reflect.
Take a breath. How many things are on that list? How full are all those worries making your mind? How much space and time have you given to these worries?
Step 3: Sort your list.
How many of these worries are within your control or solvable? Put those on a separate list. How does that compare to the first list?
Step 4: Resolve.
Start with one of those items that are solvable and see if you can find a path to resolve it. You might need to take some space to meditate on it or let it swish and swirl around your mind. Ensure you stay in problem-solving mode or processing-an-event mode. If you notice yourself spiralling down into anxiety-mode, pause. Come back to the present and remind yourself of what is within your locus of control. What can you do to move through this situation and what do you have to let go of?
Step 5: Let it go.
Take that first list of worries and find a way to let go of it. You might burn it, rip it up, read it aloud to let it go, pray on it, let your dog ‘eat your homework’ , release it into the water… whatever action helps you ground into letting it go – do that.
Step 6: Celebrate!
Congratulate yourself on another step towards moving closer to a less anxious life! Take a breath, pat yourself on the back and find a way to celebrate all the work you did and continue to do on your anxiety.
Take some time to think about what your anxiety looks like! If it were a cartoon, what cartoon would it be? If we can see when our anxiety is sneaking in we can catch it in the act.
“Well hello you yellow-bellied, lily livered anxiety gremlin. I can see you are trying to infiltrate me. Not today – Hasta la vista baby!”
Humour can be such a great friend to pop the stress about stressing!!!