Managing Fear, Worry and Stress

Seems like unhappy and anxious times for many today as they angrily honk their horns, gulp down pills, and ram my shopping cart without comment. Some feel much worse, living with daily stress and feeling hopeless about their lives and the future.

There are usually alternatives to living this way of losing precious days to anxiety; precious because at midnight these days are gone forever. Accumulated miserable days can become miserable weeks and years, bringing us poor health and extended depression.

It's not necessarily that easy to quit worrying as it can be a strong addiction, but there are ways, some of which may be a practical solution to a particular situation or to worry in general.

The starting point is to recognize problems and decide to make sincere efforts to alleviate them, or eliminate them all together as a long term objective.

Gather information
There are hundreds of excellent books on this topic - start by reading a few and you will be pleasantly surprised. There is also much available on the internet which you can find by searching with words that reflect your distresses. When you come across an idea that is helpful write it out and keep coming back to review it even if not needed at the moment. If it's online, copy useful tips and routines that you feel will help you the most and paste them into a text or word file for future regular reminders.

Why not make up your own self-help booklet that you can keep referring too? I started just this as an endeavor 15 years ago and ended up with a compact set of pick-me-ups for different worrisome conditions. Working on this has been so uplifting in itself as it has kept my thoughts on the topic of self-help and improving my life. I still refer to it several times a week when I need a reminder that worrying is not helping, is not necessary, and is harmful.

I call my big little project 32 KEYS A collection of ideas about life.
It's just 32 basic self-help ideas and it is online.

A few sample ideas that I find most useful in replacing worry with happiness.
A change of attitude about a troubling situation can have an immediate positive effect and can become a permanent personal way of handling life's challenges in the future.
Many of us have our bad or sad stories and we may feel fully justified in being upset, troubled or sickly. Our view of the circumstances might prevent us from enjoying life in the present and could be preparing us for unhappy days or years ahead. Worry shreds the fabric of life, but only if we allow it.

Do not allow it.

Rethink positive thoughts that lie dormant in your mind or that are part of your life now but have been put aside. Make a list of your assets, especially non-material assets which you may have forgotten. Some but perhaps not all of: friends, family, health, home, job, nature, pets, garden, music, faith, books... and forget what you do not have, don't want, or that which is upsetting. Read some helpful notes, articles, quotations. Get busy having some fun at what you would normally do to enjoy yourself.

Social and financial bad news abound these days. The steady flow of negative information out of the media generally suggests that feeling dismal or fearful is totally appropriate. It is not. Break away from the bad news stories, turn off the TV, read a good book, go for a walk...

Rehashing bad experiences, mistakes, regrets - what a painful waste of time this can be. The past has happened, we can't do anything about that. Troublesome thoughts of things gone by should not occupy our minds, stirring up painful feelings again and again. A review of a problem once or twice to determine how it occurred will be useful in determining future experiences, actions and reactions. Then that burden should be unloaded - and buried.

Worrying about a future outcome can be turned off too. If a new plan of action for a specific upcoming situation is required, prepare it.

Gather all the related facts putting the details on paper or on your PC.
Consider involving others. This will release anxieties and provide new ideas.
List all possible solutions to the problem favorable or not.
List the advantages of each. List the disadvantages of each.
Select a solution and describe in detail the steps to carry it through.
Follow through without looking back.

You can review the course of action occasionally and consider the results at those moments but when you have done your best it's time to move on and think other thoughts that will add positive value to your days.

So, in the words of Shantideva, "If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?"

It's only a worry if you worry about it.

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