As a carer I naturally worry, there are many issues that need my attention and I can even imagine I’m indispensable. How can I readjust my thoughts so that I am calm, focused on the important stuff and open to spontaneous worry-free adventures.
Firstly I need to recognize that my thoughts are just my thoughts. I can over analyze my situation resulting in warped conclusions. I can fall victim to my fictitious thinking, allowing me to formulate imagined untruths. I simply have to ask myself “Is what I think a known truth?” I take time to reflect on my thoughts and I often realise my cumulative musings stack up to nothing, I am just making myself anxious. If I allow worries to build into anxiety I need to press my reset button to readjust my thinking, restore my inner calm and revive my peaceful, positive psyche.
How to cope with worry as a carer
Andrea F. Pollard, Psy.D. Published an article addressing this issue. The article titled What, You Worry? It gives five answers that deflate a worry bubble and stop it becoming a hot air balloon rising out of control. I took the liberty of rewriting the five points for carers.
Don’t believe everything you think.
As a carer I can over think, over organize, over orchestrate plans far ahead in the future. I have become aware that I can spend time and energy planning for events that may never happen. I have to take a deep breath and distance myself from my thoughts in order to reveal with clarity if I am over thinking a real tangible, plausible event. If I focus on actual future appointments I stop myself falling into the “what if ” thinking that is futile. No point in worrying about stuff that may never happen.
I worry about my children, about their health and well-being especially after Emily’s accident. It could lead me to be unrealistically controlling as I wrap everyone I love in cotton wool, smoother their natural inquisitive enthusiasm for adventure and life experiences. I could overlay my anxieties on those around me but I don’t because I understand it’s an irrational thought. If I am really overwhelmed with anxious thoughts about a scenario I take it to its furthest point, I think through to the worst scenario, would it be a catastrophe, a complete disaster? I don’t spend time agonizing over stuff that really wouldn’t be considered the end of the world, it hasn’t happened so why worry?
Learn From Your Anxiety
I understand my process of learning from my anxiety; I write down my worries, my fears. I ask myself why am so worried about these things and by putting my thoughts in script and pondering on them in my own handwriting on the table in-front of me it allows a detachment that aids reflection and distance. It initiates the question “Why is this thought so worrying?” Detached analysis of my inner demons stops them multiplying and negatively influencing my thinking, allowing me to halt the thought, stop the circular, spirally worry, refocus on the truth of the circumstance or issue. Andrea F. Pollard refers to her book A Unified Theory of Happiness when addressing this point.
The human brain remembers the negative and physical threats because in our evolutionary history it was important for survival. This bias has led to our tendency to worry. I have to train myself to be mindful, to be present, to see, hear, taste, smell and experience what is in-front of me now, today. I make an effort to be in the present as often as I can be during my busy day, the advantage to my mental health is enormous. I become aware that each day offers an abundance of opportunity, little things can make a great day.
“The worried mind is accustomed to seeing only the negative , ignoring the rest of life which is actually an awe-inspiring spectacle of beauty, abundance, and boundless opportunity.” says Andrea F. Polard
Question Your Entire Value System
Most everyday carers have experienced some trauma or life changing event to accept the role, we could spend the rest of our lives worried and worrying. This negative thinking is dire and throws me into an unhappy abyss. It is at this point I have to ask myself “what is the point of my worrying?” ” Where am I going and what am I doing with all this worry?” The shard of light that illuminates my way forward shows me that life is a spectacular gift. Andrea F. Polard writes “When we realise how great a gift, we may just relax into this reality and celebrate wherever possible” If I miss life, I’ve missed all the opportunities in front of me! Opportunities to be happy and enjoy the day.
Worry shouldn’t dominate or inhibit our amazing lives so I write my anxieties and worries down, read them, acknowledge them, understand their origin then scrunch the paper into a ball and throw it into the bin. Slam dunk worry, let’s get on with living life!