Most worry is ultimately fruitless
Worries and concerns trouble us all. We waste valuable time worrying about things. As the American motivational author Leo Buscaglia once wrote, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
In a previous article, I suggested a mindfulness exercise to help you realize the temporal nature of worry. I also emphasized that most of your anticipated adversities will never occur.
Despite the transitional nature of anxiety and worry, mental anguishes can overwhelm your mind. Sometimes these negative emotions can spill over and seep into the fabric of your day.
Obsessive anxiety and worry can wreak havoc on your body. Stress from worrying about life’s many “what ifs” can actually manifest in physical and medical problems, if you let them. For instance, say you are troubled about an upcoming exam in your least favorite course at college. Your worrying could become so compulsive that your apprehensions about the exam could interfere with whatever else is going on in your life. If unchecked, your worry could manifest in higher acid levels in your stomach. Then, you may start worrying about developing stomach problems if you don’t stop worrying. Your worries thus snowball and consume even more of your time.
Writing about your anxieties and worries can help you cope with current concerns
An effective way to stop agonizing and let go of troubling thoughts is to keep a “worry box.”
- Find a box and designate it as your worry box. Keep it in a handy location. (A “worry journal” may be just as effective.)
- Whenever you feel drowned in worries or have anxious thoughts circulating ceaselessly in your mind, take a piece of paper and jot down each worry as it arises. Write down as much about your worries as you feel like writing.
- Drop your note into the worry box. Try to imagine mentally letting go of your concerns. Turn your attention to other matters.
- Every so often, empty your worry box and throw away your worry notes without looking at them. If you want, you could read them—you will be surprised to see how many of your worries feel unfounded in hindsight, but were in fact seriously troubling in the immediate storms of distress.
Idea for Impact: Maintaining a “worry box” to deposit your anxieties and worries can help you break free from them and prevent them from disrupting your life.