As someone who has, what I call, an Olympic-ready gerbil running constantly in my mind, I can state with 100% certainty that I have worried once or twice about things (orrrrr, maybe more than that). I also know that when I get fixated on something, as it spins mercilessly around and around my brain, the rest of my body gets hooked in as well. Maybe my zzz’s don’t come in at maximum quality and quantity, or my tummy is in a perma-knot. When left unchecked, constant worrying very quickly produces the same effects as the stress response.
But, like stress, worrying isn’t always a negative thing. As with stress, when troubled thoughts motivate you to actively seek solutions and make a change for the better, good stuff happens. Ultimately, your sense of self-efficacy increases and you become more self-confident, even if the changes made are perceived to be minor. In the coaching world this is what is called the beginning of an upward spiral and is what inspires us to make changes for ourselves and believe that they’ll stick.
So, the next time you (and I!) notice that there’s something riding heavily on your shoulders, check in with your thoughts and see what they’re telling you. Are they negative and pulling you down, or do you feel your stress response kicking in? If so, it’s time for a heavy dose of self-love and to try and get the relaxation response switched on. Go for a walk, practice deep breathing and visualize the ideal outcome you would like to see happen instead. See if any ideas come up that will help you modify your situation in a positive way and then start to plan how you can implement them. Ask a friend for advice if you need a different set of ears and eyes on the situation. If you can do all of the above on a gorgeous fall day like today, even better!
(If you feel that worrying and anxious thoughts are starting to overwhelm you, please reach out and ask for some assistance from a professional, like a counsellor, a therapist or your MD. Take good care of yourself!)