Everybody gets worried from time to time and even more so when going through a separation and divorce. Maybe it’s a big meeting with your counsel and/or mediator/arbitrator or awaiting important news. Whatever the reason, a little worry is natural. It’s when you can’t stop worrying, or find yourself preoccupied with how something will turn out, that worry becomes unhealthy. If you’re finding your sense of worry is becoming overwhelming, here are some tips to calm your mind and help you manage better.
1. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the current moment. It’s a type of meditation where you observe anxious or worried thoughts without judgment.
The more mindful you become, the less your worrying thoughts will spiral out of control. You’ll be able to observe a worrying thought without having a distressed emotional reaction. Since both your body and mind suffer when you’re worried or stressed, worrying fewer benefits your whole-body health.
There are lots of ways to practice mindfulness. A simple way is to check in with yourself each day, paying attention to how your body feels and what’s going on in your mind. Or, try taking a walk and intentionally using all your senses to take in the environment around you.
2. Take a walk or jog
Moving your body is a great way to get out of your head and stop worrying about the future. Studies show that exercise like walking or jogging for 30 minutes per day, three days each week has benefits such as:
Improving your sleep
Improving your mood
The 30 minutes of exercise don’t have to be consecutive to be effective. The next time you have a stressful day coming up, schedule time for three brisk, 10 minute walks to help clear your mind. 10 minutes, although does not sound like a long time, can have a profound effect on the rest of your day or days to come.
3. Reach out to someone you trust
Sometimes worrying can lead to irrational thinking. We play out all the ways things can go wrong in our heads, even when it’s unlikely that the worst will happen. A second opinion is always helpful. Try sharing your concerns with a trusted friend or family member to gain some perspective, who can help dial down your escalating worry or concern.
4. Plan out the worst-case scenario
A good plan can go a long way towards relieving stress. Oftentimes our worries stem from feeling like we don’t have control over a situation. Planning for all possible outcomes can give you a newfound sense of control. This can take the stress out of navigating the unknown. Let your mediator along with your counsel that you have been feeling stressed or worried. Your mediator and counsel have a wealth of experience in this area and can be of great assistance to you.
Some people find it hard to express what exactly is causing their stress. This can lead to even more worry since they can’t articulate their uncomfortable feelings. Journaling is a therapeutic practice that helps narrow down what’s really underlying your intrusive, uncomfortable thoughts.
Try writing down what’s on your mind the next time you feel worried. Include details of what’s currently going on in your daily life. Reading over your journal at a later date can help you spot patterns and stress triggers. Journaling can also help in noting important aspects of your worries that you may wish to convey to your mediator.
6. Designate time just for worrying
Setting aside specified worrying time can actually help you manage your moods. Instead of letting worrying pervasively interrupt your day, jot down any worries and make a plan to revisit them later.
During your worry time, 10 to 30 minutes a day, for example, think through the worries on your list. Write ideas for short-term solutions to each problem. As you tackle each item, your list will eventually get shorter.
7. Do a body scan
Stress and worries can make your body tense. When you’re worried, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are part of your fight or flight response. When your body has elevated levels of these hormones, your muscles get tense in preparation for flight mode, even if there’s no real danger.
Doing a body scan can help counteract the effects of worry on your body. Seated or lying down in a comfortable position, progressively focus your attention from your head, slowly to your toes. Notice every tactile sensation, including the temperature of the air, the fabric of your clothes, and the weight of your limbs. When you notice tension, take a deep breath and focus on relaxing the areas that are tight. Your mind and body are connected, so a relaxed body acts as a gateway to a relaxed mind.
8. See your doctor for a referral to a therapist
Talking to a professional about your worries is the best way to process and overcome them. Therapy gets to the root of your worries, such as traumatic life events, such as an impending separation and divorce, or schemas through which you see the world. Therapists can also recommend mental and physical techniques to help make your worries more manageable so they don’t interfere with daily life.
9. Turn off your phone
Notifications, emails, calls — we’re constantly looking at our phones. Although they’re a great tool, taking a break from your smartphone gives you a break from stressors. Take some daily downtime without your phone. Resist the urge to check on work emails after-hours, and know that most notifications don’t require an urgent reply.
10. Face your worry head-on
Sometimes, the only way out of a situation is going through it. If there’s something, in particular, that’s making you feel worried, facing the fear in a safe manner can help. Once you’ve confronted the situation that worries you, the experience will help you reframe your worries in the future. By facing our worries and overcoming them, we build confidence in ourselves to competently handle future challenges.
The good news is there are lots of ways to stop the habit of worrying. If your worries are getting in the way of your daily life, seek help - many professionals can steer you in the right direction.