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5 Ways to Interrupt a Worry Cycle

Before Worries Overwhelm You

 
Worry is not something that comes and goes. We may think it does. But no, it doesn’t.

We think worry just blows over because we don’t realize how those things we worried about before, slowly metastasized into those things we worry about right now.


During the COVID pandemic, and since, we have developed a new normal level of worry. What is normal seemed to change from week to week. When we flash back to the days before the pandemic, we remember the good days; not so much the bad. It isn’t surprising then that we don’t remember what we worried about, or that we had worries at all. And if we’re reasonable and know that we used to have worries then too, we never really remember just how badly we worried.


The truth is, worrying is a frame of mind. It’s more a verb, than a thing. The things we worry about, change. And so we think it went away. How we worry about whatever it is that troubles us, changes and doesn’t go away. Instead, it gets worse. Because worry sets up camp in our minds and bodies, creating an endless line of worry-soldiers. They soldier on, dead set on defeating us. However, we don’t have to live like this.


We can and must take steps to stop the worry.


 

What if I told you there is a way in which you can pay money and forget that something worries you? That if you pay this money, you will not only be able to forget and move on, but more than that, you will wake up tomorrow, feeling fresh and alert and wonderful and all your worries are resolved?


With “resolved”, I don’t mean the problem went away. I mean resolved like in you know what to do next to solve the problem?

Would you be willing to pay that money?


Of course, there is no magic pill or quick fix like this on the market. But what I allude to, is possible. It’s not science fiction. And the best part is, it’s completely free.


Here’s 5 ways to do just that.


 

1. Get Moving Naturally: Walk or Play

Any form of physical exercise that you can focus on will also take your mind away from worry. This can be a walk in a park, a game of basketball, or even hula hooping with kids.


The important aspect of moving is to focus on how your body feels. How does it feel as your legs and feet stabilize you on a dirt path in the woods or how does it feel as your hips swivel to keep a hoop around your waist.


Being mindful in that moment that you move a little, helps ease worry in your mind. And with thoughts like that you distract yourself enough to prevent the physical side effects of worry to plague your body. You will stop experiencing things like muscle tension, for example.


2. Get Moving Deliberately: Do Yoga or Tai Chi

These forms of exercise help you to focus on your breath and movements in a manner that forces you to use all your intention on the practice. Therefore, leaving behind your worry, even if just for a short time, which would be long enough to interrupt your cycle of worry.


3. Mediate

Meditation is the practice of focusing on your body in its current state. Your breath, how you feel, and whatever else a guided meditation can take you through. It focuses your mind and directs your thoughts away from whatever worries you.


Meditation also teaches you to acknowledge interruptions or sporadic thoughts, and then how to move your mind back to the present in your meditation practice. This training helps you not to relent to worry cycles in everyday life.


4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This practice calls for you relax specific muscles in your body. It can be combined with the exercise to tense the muscles first before relaxing it. Doing this can take deep concentration especially when it involves muscles that you may not be used to flexing or relaxing consciously.


Anything that draws your conscious attention away from worry will interrupt your worry cycle.


5. Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises can help lower your heart rate and focus on your body. You can find an array of these exercises online. Or you can simply sit still and breathe deeply through your nose, hold the breath for a five-count, and then slowly release the breath for ten counts.


Earn bonus points if you use a timer and work on lengthening your calming exhalations.


 

When worry seems to be attacking you from all sides, take time to explore these steps, and interrupt the worry cycle. Sometimes getting out of our own head for just a few moments can help us gain perspective. How and why this works is rather simple.


  • While we do activities like these, we distract our conscious mind away from what worries us. In that moment, our unconscious mind continues to work hard, below the surface of our awareness, to find solutions to our problems.

  • This unconscious process is a good thing because the moment when our unconscious mind finds a solution to a problem, it moves on to the next one. This is an overall net win for us. As a result we stop topping over that item consciously too.

  • However, when we consciously dwell on all those things that worry us, our thoughts tend to race from one item to the next, as our minds do. This way, we interrupt our unconscious process. In essence, we don’t resolve worrying thoughts because we consciously interfere and redirect our thoughts to more and more worrying thoughts. We keep piling things on the list of things for our unconscious mind to try to resolve. And the longer the list, the more tiring it becomes, and the harder it gets to cope.

The adage, “If you worry, you die. If you don’t worry, you die. So why worry?” is partly true. We always worry. The adage should instead be:


“If you consciously worry, you die. If you don’t worry consciously, you die. So leave the worry to your unconscious mind and you won’t have to worry about worry.”

Granted, this phrase will likely not catch on. But I love it!


 


Suggested Further by Reading


Check out these gems available on Amazon. Note that Woodbridge Hypnosis earns from your qualifying purchases. And to earn from your qualifying purchase, I make a little effort to curate the list, find the image and text for your ease of browsing. I trust you find this in order. However, these books may be available at your local bookstore or library. And if not, find anything else that may be on topic!


Open the list to find out more about each. Click the image to buy it on Amazon.

1. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life


Psychcentral.com has this to say about this book & author:


"This is a one-size-fits-all mindfulness handbook that will teach you the concepts, get you started with exercises, and sit on your bedside table as a welcome reference. The chapters are short and self-contained, so you can dip in wherever you want.


It was written by author and mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1994 and has remained a bestseller and classic. Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979, which was then associated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


He has written many other mindfulness books, the best-known one being “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness,” which is full of research and recommended applications. It’s the book that ushered mindfulness into medical and scientific circles.


This shorter book [Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life] is directed to a wider audience and is meant to provide a “brief and easy access to the essence of mindfulness,” Kabat-Zinn writes. “Full Catastrophe Living” is directed toward people with serious medical problems, stress, and chronic pain.


You can also purchase the accompanying “Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 2” audiobook or audio CD containing mindfulness exercises narrated by Kabat-Zinn designed to complement the book."


2. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

3. How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness




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