How to Manage those Worrisome Thoughts
You know you have things to do, either meeting a work deadline or finishing a personal project but your mind is stuck inside a pinball machine of thoughts and worries. Despite your efforts, you can’t stop the zinging thoughts from bouncing from one worrisome thing to the next.
We’ve all been there so today we’ll talk about some ways to calm those mind storms and resume your productivity.
It’s pretty hard to be productive if you feel overcome with anxiety and the minutiae of life’s ups and downs. Why? Because worrying zaps your energy and squelches your creativity. It also wastes a lot of time — time you could be spending doing something productive.
Instead of letting your thoughts ping pong around inside your mind randomly, think about them as a subway train passing in front of you. Each car is a different thought and instead of getting on the train, you merely sit back and observe them going by.
This little mental activity helps because you’re disconnecting yourself from your thoughts and making them something external.
If a persistent, negative thought keeps plaguing you, challenge it. For example, if your boss seems a bit distant lately and you’ve been worrying that a pink slip coming your way, challenge the thought. Ask yourself, “What real evidence do I have to support that thought?”
It could be your boss is worried about something completely unrelated to you, but you’ve let your worrywart tendency to turn into something about you.
And if you do find evidence to support your thought, ask yourself what you can do to change the outcome. It can be helpful to keep a journal where you can write down your thoughts and supporting and refuting evidence.
For some of us, it can be helpful to schedule a time (not right before bed!) to just sit and let yourself worry. Put a 15 or 20 minute block on your calendar when you can just let yourself worry. If you can, turn your worry time into a walk and get a little exercise.
If a worrisome thought creeps in at its non-scheduled time, tell it, “I will worry about you during my worry break, but not now.” It sounds kind of crazy but by “talking” to your thoughts, you’re taking control instead of letting them control you. You may also find that your worry / walk time turns into a productive time!
You’ve heard this a 1,000 times, but it’s true — practicing deep, relaxing breathing and gentle exercise like yoga or simple stretches can go a long way toward making you feel less anxious. Check out this article on Stress.org about how to perform relaxation breathing.
Your energy is too valuable to waste on negative things that won’t improve your life. What works for some doesn’t work for others, so find what works for you. It may take a while and you may slip back into your old worry patterns, but don’t give up.
“Success breeds success” is a phrase that may be overused, but it is true. By funneling your energy into making minor changes, you’ll improve your productivity and feel better. Then you’re more likely to continue with those changes since you’ve experienced a bit of success.
Don’t hesitate to seek help – sometimes we need a little professional guidance to get back on track.
What stress-reduction tactics work for you? Let us know in the comments section below!