Stop the merry-go-round, it’s time to get off.
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
You arrive home expecting to see your loved one’s car in the garage, and it’s not there. Where could they be? If you are like me your mind races and you begin to, as Valerie Burton says, catastrophize. There has been a terrible accident, and the police are not able to find you, etc. Or how about this: your boss has sent you a meeting invite for an hour before close of business next Friday. In your mind, you are sure that something terrible has happened and you are getting fired, or the company is closing. Quite simply, we fear the future and the unknown. We worry.
We live in a very unpredictable world. It is inherently dangerous and in some cases deadly. We worry about losing our health, happiness, love, wealth, or freedom due to some mistake that we might make or as a matter of circumstances out of our control. Worry causes us to feel anxious which triggers our fight or flight response. Our amygdala, located deep inside the brain, is busy alerting our brain to a threat and cortisol is released into the bloodstream. The problem we have is that the threat our brain is reacting to, may not be a threat at all. We have created this threat in our own minds, and the effects on our bodies can be severe. Cortisol is known to cause increased blood sugar levels and triglycerides. Adrenaline is also released and has been shown to be directly toxic to cells of the brain and immune system. So, what is a person to do? We can’t just say stop the merry-go-round and get off.
The first step to addressing our worrying is to embrace the reality of the situation. In a recent conversation that I had with a doctor of psychology, he shared that the best way to address worries is to shine a light on your fears. Write down your worries. This will allow you to accurately review the situation. Most of the time we are catastrophizing, and by writing your worries down, you can gain a clearer perspective. The second tool the doctor shared was gratitude. He shared that focusing on things that you are grateful for shifts the focus from the worry to what is actually happening in your life. Just these two steps are a great beginning to addressing worries.
We can’t change the situation or the outcome, but we can change how we react. Join Marisa and me on The Next Page podcast was we discuss several other tools that can be used when the worries of life begin to take over.