“Anxiety is often a cycle of worrying about things that are out of your control. Our minds take hold of a thought, then carry it to the worst possible conclusion. We can fret about everything! But it won’t stop an oncoming hurricane, global discourse, a pandemic...‘What if’ becomes the lyric of that nasty song stuck in your head. In order to harness distressing thoughts, we try to control things. Unfortunately, the more you try to control everything, the more anxious you become. I know, I’ve tried it! The latest reports from mental health organizations demonstrate that I am not alone. 64% of Americans report their stress has increased in the past year. Instead of worrying, I’ve tried to glean some tips for dealing with worry over things I can’t control.
1. Identify your fears
What is the evidence that something bad might happen? What are the facts? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help us sort out cognitive distortions and manage escalating negative thoughts.
2. Focus on what you can control
You can control your reactions, attitudes, and actions. Controlling other people, or certain situations is impossible, and thinking about your powerlessness to change things will only leave you exhausted. If you can prepare for something, like a storm, buy your provisions. But don’t let the thoughts of where the storm will hit consume you!
3. Develop a stress management plan
Healthy eating, exercise, and proper sleep support mental and physical health. Engaging in hobbies, activities, or spending time with friends and family adds significantly to the feeling of well-being.
4. Don’t go down the social media rabbit hole
It’s nearly impossible to avoid negative messaging on social media. A constant flow of it only increases worry or stress. Checking the feed for news can become a way to seek reassurance, or to convince yourself that you are keeping informed. The truth is, you will face heavy doses of misinformation and too much screen time will likely make you feel unsettled.
5. Stay focused on the present.
Learn to mindfully identify what is right and good NOW! You can’t know what will happen in the future so don’t spend your energy worrying about it. Work on bringing thoughts back to the present.
6. Identify additional resources
Therapy is effective and there should be no shame in seeking help to cope during difficult seasons of life. Support groups and peer organizations are also effective ways to feel heard and validated by a community of people with similar struggles. Click here to visit the Fearless Resource page.
7. Prayer or Meditation
Our communities of faith provide a place to turn for peace and comfort. Our faith traditions ground us in significant ways. For me, particularly in times like these, scripture such as Matthew 6:34 resonates.
‘Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has trouble of its own’
So, for today, I will not stress over things I can’t control.”
-Kim Vincenty, the inspiration behind the Fearless Collection