“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
Leo Buscaglia

Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Remember Forest Gump’s famous movie line “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get”? It is just an irritating pity that in real life, we cannot pull the box onto our laps, and choose the type of chocolates we prefer rather than deal with what comes out of the silver wrapper.

We are human, we are trying to plan and survive best we can, and in between …. Well we worry about stuff. We worry about whether we planned well enough, about the day at the office and the work that needs to be done tomorrow, about the woes of family and friends, our children’s well-being, their education and what they might be exposed to. We think about politics and the state the country is in, the type of future it creates for those that come after us. We worry about the effect of climate change…

Then, before we know it our lives become one constant worry about something or the other. We were not placed on this earth to spend our days in endless worry or fear, and although there is merit in contemplation to help us deal with things more effectively, worrying does not do much but keeps us occupied and stressed. It holds little benefit.

In fact, prolonged angst, whether done consciously or subconsciously is really bad for our health. It can be the leading cause of headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and even serious illness like heart problems and cancer. Excessive stress can also affect our mental state and lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. If we think anxiety inducing thoughts most of the time and navigate our daily existence based on a perception of fear and scarcity, it has the potential to become our reality. It becomes the main thing that consumes our daily lives and overshadow our existence!

People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.”
– George Bernard Shaw

A constantly stressed body and overloaded mind cannot function optimally – and although much of it is being human, it can steal our joy! So next time you realise that worrying is consuming far more headspace than what it should, try some of these ideas:

Focus on doing something that makes you smile. What is your favourite thing in the world to do? What makes you smile? Is it listening to music, going for a quiet walk, reading a book, calling a dear friend, doing something that makes you proud or something that you have put off for a while? By focusing on creating good feelings and positive vibes, the space to be taken up by negative thoughts become less. You cannot be happy and worried at the same time. Choose the happy vibe!

“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.”
– Dale Carnegie

Dig deep and find some perspective. I know it might sound like a cliché, but sometimes when we need a lift, doing something for someone else can lift us up more than we thought possible. Placing the focus from yourself to someone else might help you realise how grateful you should be for what you have. It is the type of perspective one loses, when you cannot see past your own heap of challenges. Stepping outside of your personal scenario and opening your eyes to the truth of others around you can quickly take care of self-pity.  I bet you have more to be grateful for than you think.

Will it matter 5 years from now? A silly question but quite powerful thought. Will the issue that is keeping you awake at the moment matter 5 years from now? Will you absolutely regret the decision you are making now, and recall this exact worry, thinking yes, that was a fabulous worry! I should do it some more. Chances are you will not.

Daily relaxation/meditation. Whether it is daily meditation, reading or prayer. Do what works for you and makes you feel connected and still. Finding the time to get still and feed your soul is important. Attempt to get away from craziness at least once a day and claim your sanity. This is your time and you deserve it, no – you need it to stay balanced. Get still, reflect and recharge.

Increase your social network. Relationships are important and if you are feeling side-lined, judged, not supported or not cared for it is time to build new social networks. It is a well-known and researched fact that good relationships carry us through, and strengthen us in times of hardship. Good quality relationships holds various health benefits but the opposite is also true. It also has been demonstrated that neglect by those supposed to be close to us contribute to feelings of depression. Moral of story? Relationships are extremely important, more than anything else and if you are not in good, happy relationships you are doing no one a favour, least yourself.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
– Elbert Hubbard

Ask for a second opinion. Often, when dealing with worry, the best thing to do is to just deal with it. Ask for opinions. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust and get another point of view. At the same time, choose your confidant well. All of us has at least one friend or acquaintance who forever is the critic and oftentimes all is needed is one negative opinion to stop us from trying, believing or to get us to worry even more! Choose an ear that you think will be helpful. Nothing can put the mind at ease quite like a healthy dose of perspective.

Recognise but don’t dwell. No one is advocating for you to ignore problems or act as if they do not exist. It is important to recognise what is keeping you awake at night and trying to find solutions to help you move through it, but don’t dwell. Write your worries down if it helps to get it out of your head and then intend to get back to it later with some clear actions steps – but do not hold on to anguish in a repetitive, damaging cycle of anxiety-inducing stress and helplessness.

Be present in today, it does not come around again. Every minute you spend worrying is taking time away from doing or experiencing something else.The moment is gone and the opportunity lost forever. Sometimes we are so caught up in daily stress and worry that we completely miss the beauty of today, and that I for one, have done enough of. The past is gone, the future is not here yet, and all we have is this moment. Why not make the best of it?  

I leave you with a final quote from Dale Carnegie:

“Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember “Life is too short to be little”.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

 Take a moment. Smile and stay a while!

2 Replies to “Things you can do to worry less – Tips for more smiles”

  1. Well said.
    Ek het geleer jy moet worry sodat jy voorrbereid is op wat kan gebeur, maar dit moet nie jou energie tap nie of jou angstig maak nie. Bv ek moet worry oot Covid daarom neem ek voorsorg maatreels. Ek drink my vitamines. As ek deur die stad ry maak seker deure is gesluit en ek kyk om my rond en bere my handsak en selfoon in boot. Dis ok om te worry, maar dit oorheers nie my denke nie.
    Soos my ma se hoekom nou al worry wat mag gebeur dan gebeur dit nooit dan het jy verniet geworry. Worry wanneer dit gebeur en deal dan met dit. Ek se worry veroorsaak angs en steel jou lewens vreugde.
    Dis baie waar wat jy se deur ander te help help jy inderdaad jouself ook.
    Vriende te bel en net te praat is die helfte van jou laste al weg.
    Boek lees en stap in natuur veral nou waar die blommetjies so mooi uitkom is so goed vir jou welstand. Soos hulle blom kry jy self ook weer lus vir die lewe.
    “Don’t worry be happy”
    Dankie weereens vir n great artikel.

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