Friday, August 24, 2012

5 Ways To Stop Worrying Right Now

My mind was bleeding. A few years ago. I was going to take a huge test and I couldn't control myself. It was all that was on my mind. I tried doing yoga to help me relax. I had never done it before, regarding it as a "girls' thing". My older brother had bought P90x about a year ago. It was a set of work out DVDs consisting of a DVD for a different muscle group on your body. One of them read "Yoga." It didn't even have a single ring around the bottom of it, so I knew no one had played it. For all anyone knew, it could have been a secret disc hiding all of Osama bin Laden's plans. The company, run by the Illuminati, knew no one would play it. They like to tease people. So that when a disaster happens, someone says, "It was on the yoga CD the whole time! How could we have been so stupid."

(Claudia Azula. Check out her great site on

I decided to pop it in, while I was alone in the house. No one was going to catch me doing yoga. No one!

I couldn't finish it because it was too hard. Oh the beautiful irony.

I'm not so interested in doing yoga, but I do enjoy reading about its philosophies. I came across Claudia Azula's blog around the same time I started mine. What caught my eye was reading about Pranayama or the extension of life through breathing, which you can read more about here. When we worry, we tend to breath quickly. This kills us over time. Many believe that slowing down our breathing can lengthen our lives. When we sleep, we breath a lot slower because we are relaxed. Imagine breathing like that throughout the day.

If we look at animals who live long lives, it's usually animals who are slow. Turtles, elephants, whales. They all move slowly relative to their size, and as a result, breath slowly.

We all worry. Claudia had a great list on how to let go of worrying. I recommend anyone reading her blog about yoga and life. I just want to add something. Or ask something. Every advice on worrying I've seen seems to be on how to control yourself after you've already had some time working things out. But how do you stop worrying when it first hits you? Like how I'd imagine Atlas felt when they first told him he'd have to carry the world on his shoulders. He probably began breathing quickly. Zeus or somebody then gave him a book titled, Ten Ways to Stop Worrying (It was a huge book). He read the first sentence, closed it, and threw it to the floor while he got into a fetal position. Advice never really works on the spot. Your misery clogs your ears of any rationality, like the ear wax on Lincoln's head on Mt. Rushmore. It's hard as a rock. Reminds me of when you watch a horror movie and yell at the girl for tripping on the branch while she ran away from the killer with the knife. And then to top it off, she can't seem to keep her balance. "That stupid bitch," you thought to yourself. Okay, maybe that was just me. However, if it happened to us, we'd be doing the exact same thing. When I was on a soccer team, I collapsed on the floor in my first game, right when the referee blew the whistle at the start. I wanted to run, but my mind thought it would be funny to freeze my legs. I was nervous and scared. I lay in the dirt as I watched pairs of legs running around me. I think the referee was laughing at me. Oh the shame.

Of course, it's just your brain telling you this. Your brain likes to feel important. It likes to be the center of attention. Its a child feeling neglected because we give all the credit to its brother, the heart, when the brain does most of the work. It's having a kick right now. But that's just how we've evolved.

(Brain actually controls the heart. However, theories suggest that due to cellular memory, heart transplant patients  report having memories of the donor.)

But I actually don't know the answer to this. How do we stop worrying when it first hits you? When it hurts the most. Every time I worry, I focus on my misery. Almost like my mind likes to feel worried. I have gotten better at it though. And hope I keep getting better. Here's what I've come up with when the first thought of worry seeps through the follicles on my head:

a.)          Realize that most of your worries hold no truth. When I worry, I imagine every possible scenario of what could happen to me. All bad. I replay them over and over until my head hurts. "Which one of these will happen," I say. "which one is going to kill me." And every time, they're all wrong. This is the one time where I've never minded being wrong. And here's the thing, everyone is always wrong on this. EVERYONE. So once that first thought comes in, counter it by telling yourself that you're a great fiction writer.

b.)          Even if things are bad, acknowledge that eventually they will get better. Think it fast. When I look back at all of my dark times in life, it never stayed that way for long, even if it felt like it would. So, next time I worry, I will know that sometime in the future, I will be smiling. Your state of mind in life is like a roller coaster. Even in the lowest points, there's always enough energy for you to go up again. And then you get off in the middle.

c.)          Immediately take a shower. When we worry, we tend to neglect our hygiene. What's the point, we think. There's just something about getting out of the shower that makes me feel awake. I don't feel dirty and tired anymore. Don't take a shower today at all and write down how you feel. Then, tomorrow, take a shower in the morning and write down how you felt before you go to sleep. Compare the two.

Woman taking shower in clothes
(shower with clothes on if you want. Just get in there.)

d.)           Breath. Use that Pranayama. Breathing quickly raises your heart rate (Or is that the other way around?). I do know that controlling your breath helps lower stress. Stress causes so many diseases it's crazy. From heart problems to insomnia. I recently read on Claudia's blog that 10 breaths per minute will help you live to 100! Wait a minute while I count mine. Turns out, mine is 15. Practice right now. When I'm done writing this, I will practice.

e.)          Notice that we have nothing to lose. I realized this one day. I read a comment from a woman named June Chan on a site I can't remember, but I wrote it down. She wrote, "Thank God I've been through years of financial burden, relationship stress, and finally life-long medication that I learn the truth I really have nothing to lose. We have nothing to lose." I keep re-reading it whenever something bad happens and it puts me at ease. We start life with nothing, so there's literally nothing to lose. And nothing on earth has any value anyway. WE give it its value. WE decide what it's worth. WE decide what makes us happy. You know why a dog shits on the carpet? Because he doesn't give it any value. It's all from earth. Even its shit. A dollar, to a dog, is just a piece of paper. Or a weird looking leaf. We tend to put so much importance on the bad times. But really, the secret to life, I think, is to just be happy with what you have. Right now. It doesn't mean you can't have goals or want things, but you should be happy even if you don't get that promotion at work you wanted, or even if you don't have the house you want. Life doesn't always go according to plan, but sometimes, you can be happy regardless. Just do your best.

(99% of things we worry about never happens)

I'm going to be honest, I was worried about something before I wrote this. Worried about tomorrow. I had the knot in my throat and the stare into another dimension. I thought you should know this because every time you read a self-help article, the author always sounds so perfect. So lifeless. Like if Bill Gates just got a check for a trillion dollars and was walking home smiling. On his way, he meets a person about to jump off a bridge. So Gates tells him, "Hey don't jump. Life's actually really good. Look, I got payed today. Just work hard buddy." And then he walks away. What a slap on the face. That's how I imagine most self-help writers are. But I want you to know that I was worried about tomorrow again. And I felt better as I wrote this. So thank you.

All I ever wanted was to know that everything will be okay. I think that's what we all really want. But we will be okay. It's a practice. 

Take a deep breath. Do it with me. Slowly. Repeat. Your worries are nothing. Just some thought this human body came up with. Nonexistent. Not in the grand scheme of things. Imagine how big the universe is. And now juxtapose it with your small worry. It seems stupid to even to worry doesn't it? That's the practice. To realize it. Focus on what you have to do right now and you'll always be fine. Always.

And say:

"That's great Bill. I hope you have a great day. But have you met my dog? He'd love to see your carpet."

Do you have any suggestions on not worrying when it first hits? 

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  1. Very interesting, I like the one about taking a shower, in yoga it is actually suggested that if you wash your face with either cold water or very warm water you may be able to change the most active nostril, and hence the area of the brain that is being stimulated... so the shower is a great idea!

    And thank you for the mention!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Claudia. And thanks, your yoga stuff blows me away.