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Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.
If you’re anything like me (or like 18% of all other Americans), you don’t need any more reasons to worry. You need a few reasons to stop worrying!
I talk a lot about worry on this blog, because as you may know it’s something I struggle with on a daily basis. I know firsthand how destructive chronic worrying can be for your life and your happiness.
So I thought I’d share a few worry strategies that have worked for me as well as some big and important things you can give yourself permission to stop worrying about right now.
There is no reason or benefit to carry these worries around. So let’s start making better use of our energies by letting go of these eight things.
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8 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN STOP WORRYING ABOUT TODAY
1. Your to-do list
We all need downtime, so be sure to make time each day to do nothing. I’m not saying a to-do-list is a bad thing, in fact, I think it’s a great tool to be productive and organized. But remember there will always be another task to add to your to-do list, so stop worrying about completing every item on your list right this very minute.
My bible (secret weapon) for keeping my to-do list in check is the living well planner. Because let’s face it — life can get a little crazy sometimes, and it’s hard not to worry about our to-do list. There is so much to do and never enough time. We feel it all — the pressure to perform and to keep up, day in, and day out. This life-saver planner (it even includes meal and budget planners) has allowed me to organize my ENTIRE life, and when my entire life is organized and in balance I can focus my energies on other things.
Housework and errands are a never-ending circle of work so schedule realistic times to conquer these chores, then put the list out of sight and out of mind.
2. Your physical appearance
Despite what a billion-dollar cosmetic industry might have you believe, within 100 years (give or take) every sentient being on the planet will have faced aging square on. We all experience the loss of that coveted youthful glow.
This is one worry I’ve struggled to tame. Now that I’m forty, I’m facing aging square on, and new wrinkles seem to be popping up every day. I look in the mirror (I recommend NOT looking into a magnifying mirror!?) and wonder what happened to my youthful, vibrant skin and the question seems to be, “to botox or not to botox?”
But instead of buying into every face cream product that promises to turn back the clock ten years, what if I just try to feel and look as good as I can for the stage of life I’m currently in?
I don’t need to look like I’m twenty-years-old, because I’m not twenty-years-old. Why fight it? Aging is a sure bet, like death and taxes, and by fighting it you might even speed the process up. So relax; aim to feel good, but stop obsessing.
3. Keeping up with the Joneses
The social pressure to meet certain living standards is enormous: pressure to buy expensive houses, nice cars, and fancy clothes. Many of us worry about this constantly. To the point that we are remortgaging our houses to put in pools and buy boats. We worry so much about what other people have, or what they think of what we DON’T have, that we will sacrifice our entire financial health to keep up the facade.
But what you need to do instead is find your people. Because your people will not judge you if your house isn’t perfect or the most expensive on the block. Your people will want to spend time with you because they actually enjoy your company, not your pool.
The entire concept of living beyond our means or keeping up with the Jones’s is only going to cause you more stress, worry, and even financial collapse. We often think these materialistic pleasures will make us happy because it appears (on Facebook) that they are making The Smith’s happy. But these fixations are usually short-lived, and before long the Smith’s (and consequently you) are quickly onto the next-next object of desire.
Do you really need the granite countertop that’s robbing your first born child of their education? Living beyond your means only causes debt, stress, and anxiety; it won’t make you happy. (Happiness comes from living-in-the-moment.)
4. Your imperfections (and what everyone else is doing on social media)
Nobody is perfect, but all too often we attempt to give off the facade that we are. Our Facebook walls are plastered with pictures of our perfect families, vacations or bodies. And while Facebook is supposed to connect us in an encouraging social network, all too often it triggers loneliness, jealousy, worry, and disappointment.
Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing on social media. It might appear like everyone else’s life is perfect, but trust me, it’s not. That oh so perfect mom, might have snapped a picture of her seemingly perfect well-behaved kids in the only moment of the ENTIRE day where her kids were calm and smiling. The rest of the day might have been filled with arguing, temper tantrums, and chaos.
Trying to be flawless or live a life based on someone else’s will leave you exhausted, and while you might fool a few Facebook friends, you certainly won’t fool yourself or those who care about you.
Nobody is perfect, and it’s the good, the bad, the quirks and the flaws that make up our unique human spirit. Differences and imperfections are beautiful. Embrace yours, don’t worry about what you don’t have or how you appear to others.
5. What people think of you
This goes along the same lines as above, you’d be surprised to discover how little others actually think of you — don’t take this the wrong way, because people love and care about you, but what you did or said isn’t at the top of their minds. People are far too preoccupied with their own lives to allow long periods of attention to what you’re doing.
Even when others do have thoughts about you, it’s always flitting and will pass in a mere moment. Everything passes, so stop worrying about it.
If you said something you feel was stupid or awkward, don’t worry, no one else will remember in a very short period of time.
Recommended Read: The Worry Cure – 7 Steps to Stop Worry From Stopping You
6. The future and the past
When you worry constantly about the future or the past you forget to enjoy the present moment. And we briefly touched above on the notion that living in the present moment is the key to our happiness.
The present moment is where life is actually happening – right now. And tuning into our lives, now that’s a happiness guarantee.
So stop worrying about the future — make good decisions today to benefit your future, but remember to stop and smell the roses. Today is what it’s all about.
And stop worrying about the past — you can’t change any of it. Although it might be true that you should have taken that other job, said something you should have said, or pursued a different relationship path, worrying about it now is only robbing your present moment of joy. Stop replaying history like a broken record. Instead of worrying about the past, think about what you’ve learned and how much you’ve grown.
Okay, this one is a little heavy, isn’t it? But it’s worth mentioning because we all worrying about dying a little bit, don’t you think?
But there’s no secret: death is certain. There is no escape route, no one has ever discovered a hidden underground tunnel out and no one ever will.
If we allow it, death can be our teacher, and from it, we can learn about life. We can learn to appreciate our life (because we all know how fragile it is). We can be thankful for what we have and who we love, and we can learn to take none of it for granted.
Accepting our impending death doesn’t mean giving up, quite the opposite in fact, by acknowledging death you can begin to see the fragility and beauty of life.
So instead of worrying about it, (because it’s out of your control) allow death to teach you the true value of life. Your priorities become clear, and change becomes easy. You can find clarity in the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff,” and appreciate your loved ones on an entirely new level.
8. Other people’s drama
We have no good reason to worry about the drama of someone else. We have enough of our own problems without draining our energy with the worries of others. We’ve some or all of the following: bills, relationship issues, insecurities, kids, work problems. Sometimes it takes all of our energy to keep on top of our own life.
We need our energy, we can’t let others steal our energy.
Naturally, we want to help others, and there is no reason not to be a good friend or partner. We can listen and assist others, and the keyword here is if you can. Often we get trapped because we can’t always help or solve other people’s problems, and this only drains our own energy more.
Help if you can, but what you can’t do is worry incessantly about other people’s problems, because once you’ve done all you can do to help them, worrying is only going to create more stress in your life.
Final words. Set boundaries and pay attention to your mind. Start by letting go of a few of these worries above and feel the tension start to release. Then let go of a few more and before long you can feel the tightly wrapped ball of worries unwinding and you can begin to finally relax and enjoy some release.
And don’t forget to check out the living well planner! To organize your entire life — not just your crazy schedule!