Last week I sent out a newsletter with my tips on how to stop worrying about what might happen. Wowser, it was popular with my subscribers! So, now I’m sharing them here for you.
There is no doubt we are all experiencing barmy times at the moment. I wonder how you are holding up in this crazy and very fast-changing world? Has your personal stress-o-meter hit the red-zone, or are you more like my Mum – calm and self-possessed?
I flew back into Sydney from New Zealand last week. It was a wee bit eerie. The plane was only 1/3 full and into a very quiet airport. But, it is good to be home with David and the pup. David has proven to be an excellent chief shopper while I am in quarantine for my overseas adventure. I am busy making all the nutrient-dense things – green sauce and superpower chicken soup (which freezes well) and my could not be any easier 4-hour lamb.
In last week’s chicken, there was a bit of discussion about this very common tendency to worry about what might happen. Do you do that? If I’m honest, I still catch myself doing this at times. I’m a bit of a catastrophiser. This is especially true now that I am a country away from my parents and unable to just hop on a plane at the drop of a hat.
But worry is not particularly constructive…
So, in this time of uncertainty and questions around what might happen, I thought, I’d give you a few suggestions for how to calm your fajizzle down and slow down that worry muscle. These are some things that work for me.
Work out what you can control
When you find yourself in a bit of a negative thought spiral, take a minute to consider the things you do have control over. If it helps, write these things down and pop your list on the fridge. You can’t prevent a tempest from coming but you can certainly prepare for it. Similarly, you can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you respond to them.
You may find it helpful to recognise that sometimes, all you can actually manage is your actions and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you’ll be more effective and you may have the added benefit of feeling more positive, too.
Focus on your circle of influence
While you can influence the people and circumstances in your community, you aren’t all-powerful. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for you to force things to go the way you want them to go, no matter how hard you try. You can give your child the tools she needs to eat a wholefood diet, but you can’t control what she eats when she’s out with her friends. And while you can hope the supermarket will have a full stock of loo paper when you need it, you can’t control whether they will.
This is the – sometimes tricky thing – where you choose your behaviours to influence those around you. If you want to have the most influence it’s important to be a strong role model. That means setting healthy boundaries for yourself, too.
It’s absolutely ok to have an opinion but the simple fact is that you simply cannot fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed. A little kindness goes a long way, especially during stressful times.
Identify your fears
Ask yourself what you are most afraid of happening? Are you catastrophising? – that is predicting a catastrophic outcome that may never happen Usually, a worst-case scenario isn’t as dire as you might imagine – even in these challenging times. And can you do something constructive to allay those fears?
There’s a very good chance you’re stronger than you think. In AIP-land, we are far more aware than most what steps are needed to make choices that serve us. We have a health toolbox full of tips at our fingertips. But sometimes you are so busying worrying about what might happen that you don’t take the time to ask yourself what you could or should do. Taking a moment to acknowledge that you can handle more than you think is sometimes all it takes to have you change the channel to put your energy into more productive choices that serve you.
Actual worry versus what is constructive problem-solving
Replaying past conversations in your head or imagining catastrophic outcomes in a continuous loop is less than helpful. You already know that. On the other hand, identifying and solving a problem is a whole other proposition.
Check-in (chicken!) with yourself about whether your thinking is actually productive. If you are being practical and actively solving a problem; if you are constructively finding ways to increase your chances of success, keep going. If you find that you’re wasting your time worrying and chewing the same things over (and over), change the channel in your head. Get up and go do something for a few minutes to get your brain focused on something more productive. My Mum is fond of going for a walk!
Create a plan to calm your fajizzle down
You know that eating a nutrient-dense diet, getting consistently good sleep and moving your body are all key to looking after yourself. So, too is creating a personal stress management protocol. Consider making this a priority – especially at times like this. Finding time to manage your stress allows you to operate more efficiently and it protects against disease, too. Work on identifying your personal healthy stress relievers – things like meditation, connecting with people who make you feel good about yourself or engaging in a new hobby. Really start paying attention to your stress levels and notice how you cope with distress.
Set a daily intention
My favourite intention is ‘Grace and Ease’. Grease, even.
Think of an intention as a bridge between where you currently are and where you want to be at any given time. Intentions are your goal-state. Then, whenever you find yourself thinking about something you have no control over, like “I hope I don’t get sick”, you use your intention to calm the fajizzle down and change the channel on your thinking and all those good things. That simple daily intention keeps you from wasting time on things you can’t control.