Seven tips to stop worrying: While worry keeps you alert to problems, you can act to stop it, if it causes you needless distress. At the root of serious worry is a problem, which you cannot solve. If you could solve it, you would not worry. Worry uses your unconscious reasoning abilities and cannot be stopped through conscious intention. But, your prefrontal regions (PFR) can decide to accept the distress as a challenge and stop worrying. This article describes the inner mechanisms, which repeatedly cause you needless distress. This article provides seven tips to help you to stop serious worrying. A few physical exercises can relax your systems and help you to become calm. They present mental exercises which can make your PFR inhibit worry and change distress to energy.
To Stop Worrying – The Amygdala
Your worry is triggered by the amygdalae, two almond sized nuclei within your brain. These organs assist in the memory formation of emotional experiences and are the first to react to emotionally significant events. Researchers subjected caged rats to painful foot shocks, accompanied by the sound of a bell. Later, the sounds alone were observed to induce stresses in the animal. The sound caused the amygdala to triggers command signals to deal with the anticipated pain. These signals set off precisely focused variations of the fight, flee, or freeze patterns of thought and behavior. While it takes around 300 milliseconds for your PFR to recognize a disturbing event, the amygdalae react to it within 20 milliseconds! Worry is caused by the amygdala making the flee or freeze choice. If it made the fight choice, your challenges would energize you.
Tips To Stop Worrying – The Devastating Impact
If it responds negatively, the amygdala sends fear signals to the brainstem, triggering avoidance behaviors. Such signals raise blood pressure and heart beats. They manipulate facial nerves to generate expressions of fear. Negative emotions envelop you in feelings of helplessness. You lose interest in your daily routines. There is self criticism and a loss of energy. Your appetite and sleep get affected. Your problems look bigger and you worry about problems that may never happen. You feel scared with no specific or direct threat. You become prone to anger and irritability. Your actions become less well considered and more impulsive. Such an emotional roller coaster can lead to heart disease, digestive disorders, and a depressed immune system.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Self Inflicted Stress
While the amygdala originally developed to respond to physical injury, it responds also to self inflicted pain. Such pain is created by an organ called the insula, a part of the limbic system. The organ seeks to control your social behavior by dispatching pain signals. Social humiliation, loss of material comforts, or of an abusive encounter trigger pain from the insula. Those signals lead to the distressing experiences of shame, regret, guilt, or loss of hope. Those pain signals cause the amygdala to trigger visceral reactions within your body to prepare you to run for your life, to face injury, or death. Your suffering comes from your visceral reactions and by the pain signals inflicted on you by the insula. These signals reinforce each other and divert you from your ability to solve the problems you face.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Episodic Memories
If you were not worried about a potential danger, you would do nothing about it and would be in trouble. Worry originates from the awesome capacity of the brain to perceive the world and detect signals of danger. Your brain stores “episodic memories,” which can remember and recall each one of millions of your experiences from its beginning to its end, including its significant sounds, lights, actions and emotions. Apart from your personal experiences, the stories you hear in office are also added to those episodic memories.
The recall of a single episode includes millions of fine details. Those memories enable you to visualize the varied implications of most of the events in your life. A subtle hint of a loss of a job recalls a multitude of episodes, which describe in fine detail its many consequences. As you pass each day, thousands of such reminiscences flash through your mind and trigger the related feelings. Worry becomes a problem, when such signals repeatedly trigger your anxiety.
Tips To Stop Worrying – The Prefrontal Regions
While nature designed the amygdala as a threat warning system, the PFR developed as an investigative brain. While it is slower to react, it has the powerful capacity to see the whole picture and make a considered judgment. While the amygdala could trigger alarm at seeing a snake in the garden, the PFR could decide that it is only a garden hose and inhibit the fear signals.
The PFR is reported to have powerful inhibitive links to the amygdala. If your PFR has evaluated the situation and has a clear view of it as a challenge rather than a threat, it will inhibit the amygdala. Your worry will vanish. To stop worrying, follow the seven tips given below to convince your PFR to accept the situation as a challenge and stop the worrying by the amygdala.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Identify The Visceral Reactions
The fist tip is make your PFR differentiate emotional pain from actual pain. You will experience worry as an undifferentiated stress. It will strike you at the first hint that you could lose your job. For days afterwards, your mind will search through its episodic memories calling up the dire consequences of the loss of your job. The humiliation of facing the reactions of your friends. How will you pay your bills? How will your landlord respond to a rent default?
If you cannot imagine what will happen, the unknown threat escalates your anxiety. As your mind flashes the pain of each episode in your unconscious imagination, visceral reactions are triggered. The choking feeling in your throat, the racing heart beat or the burning sensation in your chest are your main problems. You need to identify these internal mechanisms and learn to recognize the physical symptoms of your “worry” experience.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Subdue The Visceral Reactions
The second tip is to do a simple stomach pumping exercise to still your visceral reactions. While the threats may be small, each visceral reaction harms your system. Adrenalin increases to prepare your body for a fight or flight response. Your heart beats increase to improve blood supply. Blood pressure rises and breathing changes. Acidity increases in the stomach. Your excretory system prepares to clear toxin. Your endocrine system produces the adrenal hormone cortisol.
Excess production of cortisol leads to blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems. Excess cortisol also causes damage to your immune system, arteries, and brain cells, and cause premature aging. This website suggests a simple stomach pumping exercise, which you can learn to practice silently at the first sign of tension. It is powerfully effective in dissipating it. The exercise quiets the adrenalin drive and places you in a better frame of mind, where your PFR can take over.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Worry Does Not Solve The Problem
The third tip is to convince your PFR that worry does not solve the problem. Visceral reactions are not necessary for you to solve your problems. Anxiety creates a powerful search for solutions. You do need to actively search for solutions and do whatever you can to solve your problems. Worry sets off a drive within your mind to find a solution. But, nature makes you believe that worry should accompany problems.
The traditional belief is “How can I not be worried, when I am not able to pay rent?” But, you can also be energized with the need to pay rent. When you play a computer game, your mind is searching rapidly for solutions, with energy. Your mind is capable of calm and energetic searches without anxiety. You produce your best without anxiety. In fact, you do your best, when you are energetic and not anxious. The third tip is to be convinced of the futility of worry.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Acceptance Of The Worst Case
The fourth tip is to narrow the implications of your problem from a million dire consequences to a concrete imagined possibility – the worst case. Worry about a coming disaster distresses you far more than the actual experience of disaster. With access to a massive number of episodic memories, your mind is attacked by links to most of the innumerable job loss situations that you will ever encounter.
As these reminiscences flash through your mind, those signals will trigger a high level of anxiety. Worry makes you die a thousand deaths. With a worst case visualization, you replace a million episodic memories with just one. You can create a new memory by imagining the situation. Let it become a concrete episode in your memory. Your potential for distress will reduce from many imagined horror stories to a single one. Your level of distress will reduce.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Separate The Symptoms
The fifth tip is to isolate the cause of your worry from its symptoms. The loss of your job will bring with it many associated problems. As your mind flashes through its episodic memories, you will encounter so many unpleasant side effects of your main problem. Your mind will be able to focus on the cause, if it separates its many symptoms. So many related problems will disappear, if you have solved the main problem. Or, in the worst case, you will need to accept the challenge of facing a fresh set of problems. Your main objective is to prevent your amygdala from setting off search routines in many directions and enveloping you in distress. Separate the symptoms from the cause.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Focus On The Emotion
The sixth tip is to make your PFR realize that your challenge is not a vague dreaded event, but the emotion you experience when you lose your job. You need to overcome the emotion, not the event. Imagine your feelings after you have got your pink slip and told your friends. You will find that you will have bearable feelings. Actually, when disaster strikes, people begin with a numb feeling.
They adjust slowly to failure, experiencing feelings of regret for their mistakes, guilt about not meeting their responsibilities, or feel saddened by lost opportunities. Often, they even feel relieved that the worry is over. Evaluate the worst case and imagine your feelings if it happens. When you imagine the worst case, your PFR will realize that the persisting worry experience is far more distressing than the actual disaster experience. Realization sets in that the danger you face is not death or physical injury, but emotional pain. It is a challenge that your PFR can accept.
Tips To Stop Worrying – Convert Your Worry Into A Challenge
The seventh tip is to shift your approach from flight to fight. Your amygdala can make the choice between the fight or fear response. The six exercises have convinced your PFR that the real challenge you face is not a bewildering event, but just an emotion. You are in a position to conquer that emotion with that realization. At this stage, you can convert the situation into a challenge. You can train yourself to bear the pain of the emotion. Focus your eyes with energy on the situation rather than with fear. Gradually your amygdala will develop new circuits, which face disasters as challenges. You will begin to stop worrying.
This page was last updated on 10-Sep-2016.
For my peace of mind, I earmarked 20 minutes for meditation on the terrace. With my eyes closed, I sense my hands on the chair and feel the numbness in my feet.
I feel my breath flowing through my nose, my throat, my chest and my stomach. I can hear the chirping of birds, the phut phut of auto rickshaws, the occasional roar of a truck and the insistent hooting of horns.
The wide sky and the treetops come to my attention, when I open my eyes, I see a pale moon over two hundred thousand miles away. I see the nuclear fires, blazing for millions of years in the pale globe of the setting sun. I see a single star millions of miles away in space.
I can see green shoots coming up on a tree, watch the dives and swoops of birds, the great circles of the hawks and flocks of birds flying home for the night.
Diffused light from the sun reflects off a parrot on the tree and enters my eye through a pinhole opening. I sense the bustling mood of the bird, even though it is smaller than a drop of water in my eyes.
All these things are seen and felt by me in a few brief minutes. In the distance, is the head of a man seeming to be no bigger than a pea. Yet, that head too sees and feels such things. Ten million people in this great city see and feel in ten million ways.
My mind wanders to a misty view of postwar London; an exciting glimpse of Disneyland. An awed view of Tiananmen Square. The looming Himalayan ranges. My mind takes me to distant galaxies.
It carries me into the heart of millions of invisible neurons, where electrical charges flash thousands of times a second powering my contemplation. I see the campaigns of Julius Caesar and Alexander. I feel the longings of Jehangir.
Already my mind has taken me to palaces, battlefields and even the stars. If I lost everything, but can just see and feel, in just a few brief minutes, my mind can travel the world, or imagine the cosmos.
While my thoughts wandered far and near, the thought "20 minutes is a long time" also kept floating in. And yet, life has already blessed me with over twenty million waking minutes! I have an infinity of time on my hands. Have I a right to expect more from life?
I really loved the self improvement plan post. Its great food for thought and the steps are actually actionable as compared to many other self help sites out there.
Joe Glen USA.
As a clinical therapist, I have found your site very useful!
I love it. ...
Andrew Montgomery USA.