Do you worry too much?
According to the Anxiety and Depression American Association (ADAA) almost 40 million American adults — one-fifth of the population— suffer from chronic worrying and other anxiety disorders which makes them the most common mental illness in the U.S.
This has lots of reasons, too much technology, insomnia and sleep deprivation, loneliness and the lack of proper communication, especially among teens. But I`m not here today to talk causes. I`m here to list the four common mistakes that people make when trying to handle worrying and anxiety, according to the experts.
Worry Mistake #1: Seeking unattainable certainty and control
Experts believe there are two things that cause anxiety more than anything else: lack of control, and uncertainty.
“Uncertainty is anxiety’s archenemy. It is the primary spring from which worry and apprehension flow, so much so that we can think of anxiety itself as a drive to eliminate uncertainty,” writes Taylor Clark in Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool.
More certainty = Less worrying
However, there`s one pitfall to this… It`s called the excessive strive for certainty.
You may think that the key to reducing worrying is to seek more certainty about the thing you`re afraid of. This is correct to a certain degree. If your son isn`t home yet and he`s not responding to your calls then you may seek certainty by calling one of his friends. But if the voice in your head keeps telling you that you`re gonna have cancer trying to fake certainty over something in the future will make you worry even more.
Here`s what Michael J. Dugas, the Professor of Psychology at the University of Quebec says about this topic: “Most of the problems that chronic worriers deal with are caused by their refusal to accept the possibility of a negative event happening in the future.”
And here`s what Clark also says, “Certainty and control, then, are something of a mixed blessing. We’re less anxious when we feel we have them, yet seeking them when they’re not feasible —trying to control the uncontrollable or find total certainty in an uncertain world —will only make things worse.”
Worry Mistake #2: Suppressing your worries
“Worrying actually mutes emotional expression, which makes it tougher for us to overcome a fear. It seems to act as a mental buffer against facing what troubles you” says Clark.
Studies found that our bodily arousal level drops as we begin to worry so it makes sense that you communicate your worries to other people, or even to yourself instead of keeping them under the hood. Call somebody, keep a journal or simply talk loudly to yourself.
According to several Navy studies, talking loudly to themselves is what SEALS use to overcome stress, tough missions and, of course, fear.
Worry Mistake #3: Thinking rather than doing
“Fear springs from the subconscious amygdala, not the thinking cortex, so trying to think your way out of feeling afraid is like using a hammer to twist in a screw,” says the New York University neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux.
The best possible way to reduce your worries is to move from thinking to doing to stop the thinking loop. Easier said than done, I know. But there are some useful techniques you can use to think less about what bothers you…
- Procrastinate on your worries
Make a decision that you`ll think about your worries later and you`ll instantly better. This is a famous technique called the Worry Vault used by the NYT bestselling author Ramit Sethi. You throw your worries in an imaginary vault at the back of your head and say, “I`ll think about it tomorrow.” Most of the time you`ll feel better tomorrow, and if not, you can again delay thinking about it to another day.
- Responsibility transfer
Having faith in a higher entity is what the bestselling author Olivia Fox Cabane uses when teaching her clients the art of charisma. You simply trust that God, Fate, or any entity you believe in, has your best interest at heart.”
Once you pick that entity, according to Cabane, imagine lifting the weight of everything you‘re concerned about—this meeting, this interaction, this day—off your shoulders and placing it on the shoulders of whichever entity you‘ve chosen.
- Cut fear out of energy
This is what Grant Cardone the author of The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure believes you should do to bash through any worries. It`s all about taking more action than you think you should to almost guarantee to win. It`s the difference between talking to one girl and worrying she won`t call you back and talking to 10 girls to make sure that you`ll have at least one date on Valentine`s Day.
Meditate no matter how busy you are.
I like to call it “the wise man`s sport.” Meditation has so many health benefits that will improve not just your mood but also your health. And The best thing about it, you can do it anywhere with zero equipment. Just sit down there and take and concentrate on the air coming in and going out of your system.
- Do yoga
Like meditation, yoga is also known to improve focus and elasticity and elevate one`s mood. There are so many poses in yoga but if you`re both super anxious, and in a hurry, you can stick to the famous stress-relieving ones.
- Exercise or play some sport
Run, pump some iron or just play your favorite sport. These things can distract your attention from what worries you and improve your mood at the same time. Also, it`s critical, if you have kids, to encourage them to play sports early on.
According to Tonje Zahl, M.S.C., of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology “Physical activity, and particularly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity has a positive effect on reducing future depressive symptoms in middle childhood.”
Another study by Merrimack College, children with ADHD, anxiety and mood disorders showed up to 51 percent less disruptive behaviors when assigned to two weekly 30-minute sessions of cyber cycling.
Worry Mistake #4: Not Understanding the real stats
“Another thing we know from having people fill out worry diaries is that ninety-five percent of worries never come true,” says Professor Evelyn Behar from the University of Illinois. “And with the things that do come true, they end up coping much better than they ever expected.” She added.
What Behar says simply means:
- Shit rarely happens
- Even if it does, you`ll deal with it much better than you think.
If you begin to see things from this perspective, you`ll feel less anxious as a result.
Marwan Jamal is a soccer-playing, food-loving, joke-cracking New York-based wellness writer. You can say hi to me here
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.