I worry a lot. I either say “I’m worrying”, or people tell me I worry.
The OED defines worry as:
A troubled state of mind arising from the frets and cares of life; harassing anxiety or solicitude.
I don’t think I was ever worried before I was 22. Sure I suffered short-term stress during my undergraduate degree maybe, but never felt worried for long periods of time.
3 years later it’s a different story completely, for me. Worry/stress/anxiety is different for everyone, so I’m not attempting to simplify it or talk about anyone else’s experiences apart from mine. Last year I suffered with worrying, to the point it was starting to make me ill. One of my new year’s resolutions was to do something about it, since I have taught myself to start acknowledging when I feel at my worst so I know that the feeling will pass eventually, even if it doesn’t feel like it will in that moment.
Looking at helpful online advice and talking to friends, there are a few tips I’m starting to use to worry less and help my mind feel calmer, which I’m sure is better in the long term. One thing is a quick ‘is it worth worrying about?’ check.
Worth the worry
Family and friends: these are my top priority. I am very lucky that I like and get on with my family, have genuine friends in person and that I speak to online (another goal is to make more effort with my friends this year), and a loving, happy relationship with my partner.
Things that make me happy. For example, making sure I continue to write in some form, keep listing films, look into more ways to live greener…all things I like doing.
Looking after the earth.
I’m trying to be more eco-friendly and that’s something good to worry about, as it will hopefully lead to positive lifestyle changes.
Mid-worth the worry
Work is important. Doing my job properly and working my very hardest is something I’m proud that I put all my effort into during the work day. However things out of my control that have no effect on how I perform in my role shouldn’t worry me because it’s counterproductive. Instead, I focus on my individual and team aims/goals/tasks/to-dos.
Looking after my mind (like worrying less), eating healthier and occasionally being more active is something I am conscious of doing because I’d like to be healthy. However worrying about calories and pressuring myself to exercise if I’m not feeling it is not something I need to stress over. I beat myself up too much in 2018 for not exercising if I didn’t feel like it or eating food that I labelled as ‘naughty’, and I won’t get angry at myself anymore.
Not worth the worry
What others think.
Easily the biggest thing I worried about during 2018 was whether people liked me or were talking badly about me. It’s a vicious mindset, but one I’ve learnt lots of people frequently feel. For starters, I highly doubt people are giving me a second thought it’s just anxiety messing with me. Secondly, even if for some reason they are, I can’t control that and neither is worrying about it going to help. I was talking to my friend about this recently and he told me that I should think of the Dr Seuss quote when I feel like this:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
How I appear on social media.
I wouldn’t say this is something I’ve worried about for more than a couple of minutes a time, but it is something I’m concerned will become a negative part of my mindset. I’ve deleted posts before I published them concerned of what others will think, and even posted things because I feel like I have to come across a certain way. This blog post has spent a week in my drafts, because I’ve felt apprehensive at how it will appear. Social media can be fun and good, if used wisely. So I’m going to be wise with it.
Sounds silly, but at a few points in 2018 I found myself worrying about worrying! Life is definitely too short for that, so I no longer even begin to think about this.
I may add to this list each time I think of something new and consider where it falls on my worry-scale. Everyone’s scale will be different, but it’s something that’s helped me in the first couple of weeks of 2019.