I’m a person who can’t stop worrying.
Well, not without effort, at least. It can be hard to take your mind off what’s troubling you, especially if it’s related to people’s perceptions of you or a significant other that’s giving you trouble.
If you’ve got a problem with worrying, there are a few easy things you can do to mellow out and live life a lot more free. Take about twenty minutes and practice active meditation. You can do this at work or at home, whenever you’ve got a chance.
1. Find some sort of food or drink that you can concentrate fully on. I like to get a cup of tea and focus completely on the tea; you might use candy or something else. Focus on the temperature, taste and sensation; be mindful. Live in the moment, and think of nothing but what you’re eating or drinking. It is everything in the moment.
2. Don’t think. We get so caught up in thinking that we’re unable to just let things bounce off of us; we don’t see how beautiful the world is around us. When a thought enters your mind, don’t try to suppress it; let it pass by you like a wave on the ocean. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan or think ahead, but just try to refuse yourself the thoughts that lead to anger or anything that you can’t do anything about. Try running or listening to classical music to take your mind off things for at least 20 minutes a day.
3. Smile. Especially if you aren’t happy; you’ll be amazed at the healing power of a simple smile. You may find that you have enough energy after your smile to take on anything-angry spouses, coworkers, and friends. They’ll see the calmness you have and receive part of it; by being a calm beacon of mindfulness, you can change their day, and maybe their lives.
The better trick comes from learning how to genuinely smile-fake smiles are done with the mouth, but real smiles happen with the whole face. There’s no real way to fake a genuine smile, you’ve just got to feel it, so do what’s necessary to really bring that out in yourself-think about a happy time, music, whatever. By smiling genuinely, you physically exercise the part of your brain that leads to becoming more easygoing.
4. Don’t cross your arms or legs. Studies show that by crossing the arms or legs, you’re inviting a more defensive attitude. This has evolutionary roots; we’re literally trying to protect our most vital organs. Don’t do this if you don ‘t want to be worried. Stand with your legs separated or together and learn to expose your palms and arms while talking. You’ll come off as more easygoing towards people observing your body language, and your mind will become more easygoing as a result.
5. Imagine yourself in a better, more receptive mood. When an athlete wants to do well, he envisions himself performing to his best ability; we need to learn to do this in our everyday lives. Picture yourself holding your shoulders up, smiling warmly with a real smile, with open gestures talking to people and commanding authority and respect. You’ll find it much easier to actually behave like this if you’ve already thought it out.
6. Get a hobby. As I’d mentioned before, running and music are great examples. Get anything that will keep your mind off yourself, and devote a certain amount of each day to it, even if it’s as little as 20 minutes.
7. Do things you have to do immediately. If you’ve got to call an angry client, why procrastinate? It has to be done, so do it now. An old friend of mine once told me that if there’s something you think you need to do, you’d better be doing it. There’s no more valuable advice in the world, and you’ll cut down on your worrying quite a bit.
8. Confide in friends. Don’t talk their ears off, or even necessarily talk about yourself-surrounding yourself with people that you like will put you at ease and help you remind yourself of what you do right.
It’s really a simple thing to stop worrying, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, just simple. The trick is practice, as the trick seems to be with most things in life-tie the tricks mentioned above to everyday things. Say things to yourself like, “every time I walk through a doorway, I’ll smile,” or “every day when I get home, I’ll play the violin for 20 minutes”. Next time you’re feeling off or bad, take a few minutes and practice mindfulness. You’ll find yourself much more at peace.