Look, I get it. I worry with the best of them. In fact, I come from a long line of “worriers”. Things like Don’t push the trash down with your hand or you will get cut. Or If you go snow skiing, you will probably fly off the mountain. Recently it was A shark might eat you if you swim in the ocean and if that doesn’t happen a rip tide will get you.
I actually love swimming in the ocean and taught my daughters to jump waves as well as my niece with my brother…while the worrier was watching. We all came back in one piece. So what does this type of habitual practice do to your brain? Well, I probably should have been in therapy, in fact I tried it once, but she just there listening to me saying “umm hmm” so that made me wonder what was going on in her head and that was worse to be honest.
Anyway, I discovered yoga years ago, but I didn’t actually “get it” at first. I love this article on it because it was like this. I started to think if a freaking neuroscientist thought just like me at first, then perhaps I am not the only one noticing that some people do go to “yoga” and in fact are not doing yoga at all.
So what did I start teaching that was different in my own yoga classes (and in real life, including my HHH Club)? I started teaching yoga-like thoughts and being aware of the absence of thought, even if it’s just a minute. Now, what if you worry about all of the above mentioned things, plus many others that never ever come to pass? Here are a few tips for you.
Overthinking 101 notes:
- Postpone worry. On your calendar, write out a time that you worry. I know, it’s crazy. But seriously. As you are working, if worry starts to come into your head while you are busy doing something else, just stop, write worry at 5p.m. today, and keep going. If it gets really bad, set a timer as well so you can worry about the sky falling for exactly 15 minutes and if you start to think about it longer, you are reminded you devoted enough time to that thought, now it’s up. Like an appointment. Meet back there in your head tomorrow at a different time if it still lingers, but don’t think about it anymore. This actually allows you that slight bit of control that we need.
- Obsessive thoughts can be faced. So imagine for a minute you are Sheldon Cooper. What happens if he doesn’t knock the third time? Can he go a whole day without that? So if you don’t get this, Sheldon is a character I love on a T.V. show. He has to knock three times and say his neighbor’s name. But let’s put this in perspective again. My dad uses antibacterial squirty stuff like it’s going out of style. What if a germ actually gets on him? To test this theory and face not using the anti-bac, he would have to touch something and then not use it. See if he can last after being in public. Each time maybe go a bit longer. Again, you get the drift here. Each time try to go a little bit longer without feeling like you have to do the obsessive behavior and see what happens. Are you okay? Can you make it from one task to another without reaching for the anti-bac or knocking on the door a third time?
- Use a mantra to relax. As you begin to feel stressed, say “I am in control of my thoughts.” Then breathe in and hold at the top of a breath just a sec and focus on that feeling, then release and breathe out. Keep breathing in and out for a full round of three. Start to notice the tension in your body releasing. Notice the set of your jaw, and unclench the teeth. Let the shoulders relax, and just be aware of being in your body. Notice how you control the rise and fall of your chest by breathing deeper, not shallow, short breaths, but deep, controlled breaths. You are in control. You are able to breathe deeply and focus on the now.
As I have been working on my practice of teaching others how to control their thoughts, I am reminded again and again that just like anything we do, the power of now must be practiced. We mindlessly go through our days sometimes and that is really not healthy. Flex that muscle and learn to practice the power of now through tiny activities like washing the dishes, going on a walk, gardening, yoga and meditation. Each of your tasks can be a mini-meditation in itself. Like riding a bike, but just practice staying present.
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Worry. Worry is one of the most useless habits that I have. Worry strips power. It changes nothing at all, and yet I physically feel drained. It doesn’t help me in any way, shape or form, and yet it is still there. Trying to get my attention.
This could go wrong, it screams in my head. You have busted your knee up for good girl, screams the voice. You made so much progress, but it’s all gone now. UGH. None of this is helping me at all. So yesterday, I told it where it could go. And it stayed there all day long. It really did.
I know that in practicing yoga and creating lasting mindful habits, I am happier. I know that wearing a knee brace and worrying that my MCL is not healing correctly is ruminating and I get that from certain family members. It hasn’t helped them either by the way. Let me explain. I have been to the doctor. I have had it checked out. I am following what he said to do. However; every other day a person named “dad” calls me to “worry” about my knee with me.
I have two daughters, so I get it. I really do. But worry doesn’t prevent anything from happening UNLESS you were actually using it to create some plan of attack on the battlefield or something. Maybe it was designed to help us at one point way in the past. However, my dad must be planning an attack on everything in his life. Whew, it’s exhausting. And he knows this, so I finally had to say if my knee comes up one more time, he had to give me money. HAHAHAHA. One thing that will keep him quiet…money.
How to take back your Power:
- Name the worry. Acknowledge it. Say hi to it, then put it in time-out. I did that yesterday. I created a how-to video for yoga on modifications with an MCL injury. I was very, very careful and know that I am getting a re-check today anyway.
- Staying present took its power away. I mindfully cleaned my living room. Thinking about each task. Didn’t go to past or future, but stayed in the present moment on purpose. I didn’t day dream…for once. I made sure I started my day by grounding with 3 deep breaths.
- Emotions are just that. They pass. Anger, shame, guilt, and worry. All pass. This will pass. This anxiety will pass. This feeling will pass. I know it as I have lived through other “worries” that never came to pass.
- Don’t encourage it. I didn’t want to be rude to dad, but I also didn’t want to talk about the same thing each and every day without it going anywhere. That’s like the old saying about worry being like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere. I don’t feel like being that person anymore. I am creating boundaries around this that it can’t get through.
- Be real. Okay, so it’s natural to worry a bit. As long as you don’t stay there. What can you do instead though? Everyone in my Head|Heart|Health Club knows that I am going to ask you if you are putting the work into what you DO want to happen and take it away from what you don’t want to happen. How you manage life is up to you. If you start to notice this pattern, remember that it is truly up to you to change. Redirect this energy to Empower.
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If there was ever a time I needed to turn off my brain, it would be now. I saw the signs leading up to it. They have always been there. I just THINK too much. I think too much to meditate. I think too much during yoga…well, when I went. I think too much when I’m trying to go to bed…so I read until it’s impossible to think and I finally fall into deep sleep (with the help of some all-natural pills). I think so much that when a friend invited me to “Mindfulness” day, I thought it was “Mind full of mess” and quickly accepted. Oh wait, that’s not it. Okay, because I totally have that day on repeat.
I even thought too much when I went to a relaxing float spa. Don’t ask. Alien pod, you float. Thoughts of cryogenics and freezing me for later awakenings might have entered my mind. That or being trapped in there. And maybe, do they clean this thing? Am I floating in someone’s healing water because I hope this is fresh. How much salt is in here? Hmm. This place is hot. I wonder if this is like the temperature of the jungle or something? No Hawaii, wait how would I know? Maybe this is like a hot spring. Yeah. I wonder if this is healing me now? Oh yeah, that nice lady told me she hated this pillow for my head, but I like it because she also told me not to get my ear wet if I ever had ear problems. Remember that one time when your ear drum burst? Yes. Worst pain ever. How will I know when this thing is done? How much time has passed? Oh that’s right, the music cues up to remind me. I had just dozed off when the music came back on and the jets started signaling it was over.
By the time I was done “relaxing”, I needed to relax. Every single day, I write at least 3 blogs in my head as I am trying to fall asleep. They are usually quite awesome, but I will myself to stay there and go to bed. So some strategies I am GOING to start using are as follows:
- Stop looking at my phone. The only way to do this is to un-install FB from my phone. No lie. I have done it before. I lasted a week. It was better than nothing. Stupid Smart phone. It flashes, and makes noise. Stop.
- Get back to nature. I love being outside and this winter has dragged on, and on, and ON. And on. Like the Groundhog Day movie itself. Cold is not my friend.
- Get back to yoga…I will eventually do this one. I will.
- Pull weeds. That’s right. Gardening is good for the soul.
- Get to bed on time…which essentially means shutting down an hour earlier. Making myself stick to “business” hours since I work from home has been difficult.
- Drink turmeric milk before bed. Ahhh. It’s tasty and healing. See my Pinterest board.
- Remind myself that I have to let go of things that are out of my control. Poof.
So, give over to this energy that creates dreams and let go of the energy you are spinning in all directions. If you know how to do this, feel free to let me know:)
Author’s note: This post was created before I became a yoga instructor…and before I created my meditative style of journaling. See the Head|Heart|Health Club for the ways I really do turn it off.