Dragon Warrior or Dragon Worrier

I am the unsung queen of worrying. I’m so good at it that I could win Britain’s Got Talent if I showcased my skills. In fact, I was even quite a worried kid, so much so that I was given a book called “The Huge Bag of Worries” on my fifth birthday.

What I worried about when I was five I have no idea, just like I have no idea what I was worried about in secondary school. That’s the thing about retrospect, nothing seems like a big deal when you look back at it, probably because now you only remember the facts of what happened not the 200 awful scenarios you dreamt up that never actually transpired.  You can spend a lot of time cultivating these amazing worries and most of the time they never happen.

Now, there is no point telling someone who is worrying to not worry. The rational part of their brain understands that it is pointless but it’s like some kind of addiction, you just can’t stop! I was exactly that person, but I was sick to death of carrying around my big bag of worries, it was genuinely exhausting, a waste of time and if you let it get out of control it's all-consuming.

I’ve quit the habit now (or…I’m keeping it at bay) and I want to share with you practical ways of kicking the worry habit.

Note the word habit – because that is what it is. It takes you approximately 30 days to form a new habit which means you are going to form the new habit of being carefree (or close enough!).

So here is how to stop wasting your time being the dragon worrier and how to get on with being the crime-fighting, successful, good-looking, accomplished dragon warrior you are (Yes, Kungfu Panda reference).

Step 1 - Set Time Aside for Worrying

I know, shocker, but you don’t tell a crack cocaine addict to go cold turkey on day one. You give them methadone.

This is your methadone, my friend.

Set time aside in the day to think about whatever is on your mind. It could be on your journey back home from work or a designated 15 minutes of your time in the evening. But that’s all worry gets! There is a start and end point for your worrying, it doesn’t get free reign!

Step 2 – Have a Drink of Water

If worry attempts a sneak attack, interrupt it with a glass of water. Sometimes you can end up catastrophising a situation and imagining it to be a much bigger problem than it is. Don’t become a looney.

When you aren’t thinking straight, have a glass of water. It allows the part of your brain that deals with reason (the cerebral cortex) to get oxygen and get back in control of the crazy ship.

Step 3 – Write Down your Worry

Sometimes we can’t turn off because we worry we will forget the flaws we have spotted in our plan or the great solutions we have come up with. Write it down and put it aside.

The other benefit of writing your worries down is that when you come back to read them sometimes you can see how silly your worries have been! It can be a great way to put things into perspective.

Most things that we worry about are not going to have a major or lasting impact on our lives.

Step 4 – Talk it Out

Now, for those of you who think “what’s the point of that it won’t change anything” this is quite important. Telling someone about your worry can really help you to let go. You can end up realising how normal your situation is and gain some perspective.

Keeping something to yourself and thinking about it endlessly just allows it to fester. Talking it out, for 10 minutes does lighten the bag of worries.

Warning – DO NOT talk to other panicked worriers, they can make everything worse. It’s best to talk to someone removed from the situation.

Step 5 - Do Some Exercise

I personally find this one to be a great help. If I’ve been worried or stressed about something I really enjoy going for a long run and blasting my favourite music.

Exercise gives you a natural high. You might need to push your grumpy pants self to get moving, but it will turn your mood around. Go for a run, have a crazy dance in your living room, try skipping. Do whatever, just get moving.

Step 6 – Think About What can go Right

We tend to be very sure that things are not going to go wrong for us but we never consider that things could go right.

Every time your old friend worry tempts you, force yourself to think about how the situation could go in your favour, no matter how fanciful or ridiculous the thought seems. Think about all the times where things have gone right for you.

At the end of the day, things could just as well turn out fine.

Step 7 – Don’t Try and Guess what Someone is Thinking

A lot of us can worry about what people think of us. You could be worried because of an argument you have had with someone.

It’s better to just honestly discuss your problem. It could save you a lot of hassle.
And remember, people are not over analysing what you did or said as much as you are. In fact, they have probably forgotten about it. It’s best you do too.

Step 8 – Go with the Flow

Lastly, and most importantly learn to let go and go with the flow. All of our worries stem from us trying to control things that we have no control over. Life is very unpredictable which is one of the great things about it. You can’t enjoy it if you worry it away.

In the event that something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to, know that you will be able to handle whatever situation you find yourself in. And you will. There has never been a time when your brain has short circuited or your body has shut down. You will surprise yourself.  You can probably already think of times when you have surprised yourself. Relax.


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