Every day, the news media dishes up a steady diet of new things to worry about. Social media ensures that — in case you missed it on the news — each new reason to worry can still wind its way into your consciousness. Have you ever noticed how one worrisome thought quickly begets another, then another, then another? Here are six strategies to stop the worry train in its tracks.
Reclaim your power
Remind yourself that you are always in control of your thoughts and that you have power to take reasonable actions and precautions in perfect proportion to real calculated risks. Said the Dalai Lama XIV: “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it is not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
Go global with your perspective
Stressing out about whether your kid is going to make the A travel team this season? The alleged dangers of this or that type of food? Remind yourself it’s a #firstworldproblem for which literally billions of people in the world would happily trade.
Get the facts
A Gallup poll taken in 2009 found nearly three quarters of Americans believing crime was getting worse when, in reality, FBI data showed crime at its lowest level in 40 years. So, ask yourself this: is there factual evidence to back this worrisome belief I have adopted?
Reverse the stats
When you find yourself confronting a much scarier statistic, such as ‘a woman born today has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer,’ it’s still worth turning the number around in your head: ‘a woman born today has a 7 in 8 chance of never developing breast cancer.’ Now, which thought feels better?
Examine your own experience
Yes, bad things happen to good people. But take a quick moment to observe the world around you. What is the ratio of good to bad that you can observe in your own experience at any given moment? Unless you are standing in an ER or the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, the good you can observe will nearly always outweigh the bad — by a huge margin.
Indulge in distraction
When all else fails to stop the worry train, take a deep breath and think of the happiest memories you have or your most cherished dreams of the future. Chat with a very young child. Or simply play an old favorite song that has the capacity to transport you instantly to a time in your youth when you felt completely free of worry.