“There’s no point worrying over spilt milk.” Something my mum said to me as a child. Meaning, yes it’s a pain – you have to clear up the broken glass and milk you dropped, you might have to go out and buy more milk. But unless you have a time machine, you can’t un-drop that glass.
So why worry about it? You can’t change what happened. Just as you can’t change the outcome of a future event – a meeting with your boss, a first date – by worrying about it.You know worrying causes stress, wears you out and can even make you ill. But I can’t stop worrying. Yes you can. Here are three simple steps you can take to stop.
1 – Take a deep breath and relax.
Yes, literally take a deep breath and let it out SLOWLY when you feel yourself starting to worry about things. Focus on your breathe, breathe deeply and tell that nagging voice to take a five minute break. It will.
2 – Treat your life like an experiment.
You know the kind of thing you did in science class as a child. Remember? You would run an experiment without knowing what to expect. You just had an outcome, a result. The experiment would produce a result. Sometimes the result would be what your teacher predicted, sometimes you’d end up with a different result. If you did, what happened? Yes, you’d run the experiment again. Until you got the desired outcome.
Treat life the same way.
Go about you day as if you’re in a lab – just leave the white coat at home. If the meeting didn’t go how you wanted it to – figure out what didn’t work, learn from the experience and try something different next time, looking for a different outcome.
Seeing your life as an experiment means you don’t need to worry about the “what if I…” and what if my boss…” kind of thoughts because the “what if…” is just an outcome. IF we don’t like the result we try a different way of doing things.
3 – Get more sleep.
Most importantly we’re not sleeping enough. Our bodies need around 8 hours sleep per night. No you can’t catch up on your sleep at the weekend. Our bodies don’t work like that. A good night’s sleep helps us to stay both physically and mentally healthy. There’s so much going on when we sleep that experts have written books about it: “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker is just one of many striving to tell us that 5 hours sleep a night is bad for us.
Come off your devices
– tablets, phones, laptops and yes your TV – at least an hour before going to bed. Reading emails from work or a sad status update just before closing your eyes will not help you sleep because you’ll worry about it. If you don’t have blackout curtains to cut off outside light, wear an eye mask. Sames goes for noise. If you live in a noisy area, buy some ear plugs.
I can’t sleep because I’m worrying too much…
OK get a note pad and pen. Before you hit the pillow jot down a list of the stuff that’s bothering you. At the bottom of this list write something like “I’m going to leave this of worries til the morning so I get a good night’s sleep.” Sounds crazy but try it, it works. There are other ways to stop worrying but try out the things I’ve outlined here.
If you really want to feel better and have more energy, stop worrying. It isn’t part of your DNA. It’s a behaviour that can be changed.