by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17
If you’re anything like me, I worry all the time. I worry about my over-crowded schedule; I worry about who I’ll sit with in the dining hall; I worry about getting sick and missing class; I worry about how much I worry. Sometimes, my worrying gets so overwhelming, my mind starts to shut itself down to stop the massive amounts of static. Yoga is one helpful trick I’ve found, but if that’s not for you, here are some other tricks to manage your worries.
- Focused Distraction
Research has found that it’s helpful for many compulsive worriers to have a go-to thought whenever the anxiety kicks into high gear. (For the record: I use anxiety and worry interchangeably in this article. This fits my experience most accurately but it may not reflect yours.) For example, if you’re worried about failing a test, envision your success or even a nice quiet beach to lay on or wide open field to run in. Think about something you’re looking forward to or a memory that makes you smile. Anything to distract yourself, so long as your distraction thoughts aren’t of something that will make your anxiety worse.
- Choose to Worry Later
Give yourself a thirty minute period of time to worry if you’re anxiety is overwhelming. If you’re currently in class or at work and that period of time can’t be now, just keep telling yourself you’ll have you time to worry later. For a lot of people, this suppresses most of the noise caused by your worries until you have the time to let them all out.
- Write it Out
This is the method I personally find most helpful. In fact, without writing, I think my stress would have taken over by now and I’d be nothing but a walking mass of frayed nerves and running-wild thoughts. I sit down when I have a bit of time (using methods from #2 to suppress my worries until that time) and just write about my worries. I write about why I’m worried and where those worries come from and why they’re illogical or grounded in some basis of reality. I write about how I will continue on with my day even if these worries continue rearing their ugly little heads. I give myself a list of reasons why I don’t need to worry. Most of the time, just giving my anxiety the stage for 15-30 minutes exhausts the source of it and I can go on. I might still be wary and unsettled, but those feelings always pass eventually. The important thing is that I listened to my worries and addressed them as you would a leak in your sink or a giant cockroach on the kitchen wall.
If there’s anything I’ve learned about my anxiety, it’s this: almost always, there’s an underlying reason for that anxiety. Something is wrong that needs my attention, and that’s why my anxiety is firing from all sides. Listening to yourself when something is wrong and trying to find solutions is possibly the best tool in arsenal.
Sources: The Muse