Are you worrying? Are you afraid? I wouldn’t blame you. These are crazy times. There is so much uncertainty. “Now, I just need to figure out how to sleep through the night. I wake up around 3 – 4 for no good reason and have difficulty getting back to sleep. So I lay there and think and worry…” my good friend wrote on my Facebook. Do you feel the same way?
As I was writing the above paragraph, I was listening to a podcast about motivation. I heard Kyle Gray say, “In times of uncertainty, you must hold the light”. So, I googled “hold the light”. Of course, I did not know that it is a song by Dierks Bentley, a country singer. The song is about the death of a firefighter fighting a wildfire. This leads me to death and grief.
The Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle (seen here as an image from Wikipedia) takes us from denial to acceptance. The five stages of grief model can help us through our grief for the end of life as we knew it. This model leads me to the change model that is so relevant to what we are all experiencing during this health crisis. I mean physical as well as mental health. Your mental health will effect your physical health. If you worry it may lead to headaches, stomachaches, ulcers and a myriad of health concerns.
After reading my friend’s Facebook post, I realized that I wake up in the middle of the night, however, I go right back to sleep. I don’t worry anymore, but when the worry bug tries to bite me, I use techniques to help me. Here are five ways to eliminate worry due to fear and uncertainty to lead you to happiness.
I first need to realize that I am worrying. Self-awareness is the first step to solve life’s challenges. Once I realize that I am in the worry place, I pause, take a breath, look the worry in the eye and tell myself that it is OK to feel this way. I realize consciously that my emotions and thoughts are now in worry – but I don’t want to be here. So, I do something different to change into another space. A space that is not worry.
Move – Walk or Dance
Physical activity creates endorphins which can make you happier. According to CNN Health:
Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort, says Matthews. They can also help bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being.
I need to walk my dog at least 3 times a day but that is still not enough exercise to get my heartbeat raised. I need to put on my tennis shoes and not stop to “sniff”. What do you do to move? If you don’t have a place to walk during these times, you still have a space to dance. Put on your favorite music (even if it is country), and dance, dance, dance. Get your heart rate up and feel yourself get warmer.
I am so lucky to have “my perfect place”. It is outside, on my couch, on my lanai looking over a lake and a preserve. As I write in my journal: I observe ducks landing on the lake, beautiful blue herons, turtles and palm trees blowing in the breeze. Hear croaking of frogs, water flowing into my pool, and the quacks of the ducks. Smell salt water, humid air, and my earl grey tea. Taste my tea and sparkling water. Feel the breeze, the warmth and the peace of moment. I use my senses to observe nature. This helps me to not worry. When I am not in my favorite place, I visualize. I use my imagination and put myself where ever I would like to be.
Yes, even in the middle of the night I am ready to journal. I have a night journal next to my bed so when I get an exciting or brilliant thought I will wake up and write because I am sure I will forget in the morning. Recently, I was in the frustration phase of the change curve, I woke up in the middle of the night. I found a brand new journal (of course I have many of them) and wrote all of my fears, frustrations, and my worry. Then, I poured out all of my pain for over an hour. As I cried and wrote, wrote and cried. When I was finished at 4am, I was so tired that I fell fast asleep.
The idiom “count your blessings” is not meant to be trite. It is one of the ways to get rid of worry. When you are thinking about what you are grateful for, you are not worrying. There is no way we can think two things or feel two emotions at the same time. Some ask, “how can I be grateful when there are so many horrible things going on in the world”? The answer is…start small. Be grateful for what you have at the moment even if it is small, for example, “I am grateful that I have food on my table”, “that I have a job”, “that I have a family who loves me”. Dr. Robert Emmons is a gratitude expert. He has written many books on being grateful that I can wholly recommend. Check it out. You will be much happier.
I hope that these 5 techniques work for you when you are feeling worry and uncertainty. Please let me know if you have a way to relieve worry and move toward happiness.
If you liked this article you will love my blog Coronavirus and the Change Curve
#happiness #worry #COVID-19 #gratitude #self-awareness