You know all about the worry loop.
You want to experience life with plenty of peace and joy, right? We all do.
But many people (and I mean large masses of society) experience more anxiety and worry than feelings of peace or joy. It’s actually at epidemic proportions, really – which COVID has certainly made its share of contributions.
According to a recent World Health Organization report, the first year of the COVID pandemic increased the prevalence of anxiety and depression by a whopping 25% worldwide. WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus states that, "This is just the tip of the iceberg."
Obviously, the social isolation has played a huge role, but also the unavoidable limitations on:
Among these very potent stressors, WHO also states these as other reasons we are more worried than ever:
And of course, for our hardworking healthcare workers, exhaustion has been a huge trigger for suicidal thinking.
So, what can we do about all this worry?
"My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened." - Michel de Montaigne
To worry means to fret, to get worked up. To ruminate typically on negative things that could happen, but haven’t happened yet.
Worry and fear are strong emotions that can have a negative effect on the mind and body. Chronic worry can really do some damage over time. It can lead to a nervous breakdown, depression, an anxiety disorder, and/or physical health problems.
Sure, some level of worry is a good thing. If you’re worried that you’ll have to live on the street if you can’t pay your rent, this can motivate you to get out there and work.
If you’re worried about having lung problems, this can motivate you to quit smoking.
But chronic fear or worry – especially about things you have no control over – just won’t serve you well.
Anxiety stems directly from fear. If you feel anxious about something, you’re worried. We worry about many things that never even happen.
Let’s discuss how fear and worry can affect your mind and body. Of course, the severity can depend on various factors, but generally symptoms of chronic fear are the same.
Physically, you may experience:
Mentally, you may experience:
I’ve been stuck in a worry loop. When I knew I had to give a presentation in front of a group of people, I worried about it for an entire week. Sure, I used anxiety reduction techniques, and they did help some. I laid down and meditated, envisioning the presentation going well. I did affirmations.
But at times, the worry loop got the best of me.
Have you ever heard about someone being a “worry wart”? They worry about so much! Every time you talk to them, they’re telling you all about their concerns and worries. (Which is why you might not always pick up the phone when they call).
The reality is that they’ve programmed their minds to stay in the worry loop. Until they do some reprogramming, it’s likely they’ll stay stuck.
Living with chronic worry can make life feel much harder. It can also cause physical ailments due to the boost of stress hormones that are constantly being released in your body.
What do people worry about?
You name it: Their kids, parents, jobs, money, illness, dating, spouse, being rejected, making rent, getting COVID, dying, public speaking, and so much more.
How can you break free from worrying so much?
Recognize if you are living in chronic fear and worry.
If you recognize that you’re stuck in worry mode, you can then do something to change it.
If you recognize that you worry a lot, it’s likely worrying has become a habit and a cycle. You’re stuck it that worry loop.
The good news is that you can break that cycle.
Instead of letting your mind wander off with thoughts of worry, learn the art of living in the present.
Some call this mindfulness.
Learn to “get out of your head” and into your body – into the present moment, where worry thoughts aren’t allowed.
Right now, make the intent to bust out of the worry loop mode. Realize and affirm that you CAN break the cycle with some effort and helpful tools.
Meditation is a wonderful tool to help you gain some control over your thought life and enjoy the present. It’ll also help you worry less.
Even if you start with just a few minutes a day, meditation is a practice that can help you feel more calm, centered, and peaceful. But remember, it’s called a practice for a reason. To really get the benefits out of it, you must practice it regularly.
Get started on your first meditation now! How to Master Meditation: The Art of Mindfulness
It’s normal to have some fears and encounter situations that bring on some anxiety. Face them. Don’t run from them, or entertain the thoughts all day long.
If you can’t do this on your own, seek help from a mental health professional or holistic practitioner like a spiritual coach. Some find attending support groups helps them worry less too. For example, parents who are concerned about their child that’s struggling with addiction may attend Al-Anon or Nar-Anon for support.
While it may be common to have some concerns, you don’t’ have to allow worry to keep you from living a good life.
We all want to experience more peace in life. It’s a wonderful goal. While we may encounter situations where we worry, we don’t have to let that worry ruin our lives. We don’t have to stay stuck in a loop.
You don’t have to live with worry as your master.
Hopefully, you’ve gotten some great tips from this article and will go on to experience less worry and more peace and joy.
Editor's note: This article was originally published October 28, 2020, and has been updated to provide additional information on the topic.
May 25, 2022