Freedom From Worry
I am a worrier. I was not always a worrier. If you ask my immediate family how I was as a kid and teenager, they would say I was distracted. I was always day dreaming with my head in the clouds. Nowadays, I am a wife and a mother and my days of distraction are far behind me. Lately, I am on high alert all the time.
A Focus on Mental Health
Most of my adult life has been spent with a focus on mental health. In my early twenties, my own mental health became intensely important. I have made it my top priority ever since. In the process, I have learned, discovered and crafted many techniques to support my mental health and well-being. My techniques are tangible tools to support me in daily life and I want to share them with you. One technique I used to manage my worry, is a Worry Log. A Worry Log has been so helpful in keeping me grounded and focused. This tool keeps me ahead of the worry and allows me to live with a carefree nature.
How I Became a Worrier
As I review my progression towards becoming an intense worrier, I think back to my teens when my worry was minor and focused mostly on my appearance. In my twenties, it was similar, but the worrying started to include things I felt I should possess or participate in. For example, I thought I should have a killer career, be dating the perfect guy and traveling the world. For me, however, none of those things manifested in my 20’s. My 20’s were spent figuring out who I was as an individual and how to take care of myself. I had to learn and re-learn a lot of bad habits and negative thought processes.
Changing My Surroundings
When my 30’s hit, I was still single, I still didn’t have the money to travel and my career path was flimsy. So, I decided to start over in a new town, figuring that would fix everything. Well, it did not fix everything, but it did send me on a very different path.
Within a few months, I had adopted a dog from the Humane Society. She became my best friend, my hiking buddy and the first true love of my life. My heart opened to her in a way it never had before. I felt true vulnerability with her because I wanted to protect her. Protecting her, I quickly realized, is not something I always have in my control.
True self-sacrifice became a daily practice with Greta. This mostly came in the form of time. Instead of focusing on my daily routine and my personal schedule, I had to rearrange my daily life to accommodate Greta’s needs. And, I discovered, I actually wanted to rearrange my day to accommodate her. I loved her more than I had ever loved anything in my life.
More to Worry About
Along with my newfound vulnerability and sacrifice, came an additional and unexpected consequence — worry. Worry started to manifest itself more in my life. I worried about a visit to the vet, I worried about her accidentally getting hit by a car, I worried about other dogs who might be aggressive. I had barely just brought her home when I already started to worry about losing her.
About one year later, I met someone. A guy who was so incredible, he turned my world completely upside down. Thankfully, he loved dogs (almost more than I did!). So, the three of us spent the next couple of years playing at the dog park, having sleepovers and mostly traveling by car to nearby cities for overnights and adventures. We had the time of our lives. We soon got a second dog to add to the mix and we became a family of four, two humans and two fur babies.
As the relationship progressed, so did my worry. I worried about everything. I worried that he would leave, I worried that I wouldn’t continue to be attractive enough, I worried that I wasn’t enough fun to be around, I worried that he would cheat. It was endless. Endless, that is, until I had my daughter. That’s when the worry took on a whole new level.
Worrying as a Mother
She was 7lbs 10oz when she was born. She was healthy, purple and perfect. My now-husband and I were in love beyond belief – with each other and with her. She was pure magic. She is still pure magic. With a human that tiny, who cannot feed themselves, cannot sit up, cannot even roll over yet, there are so many things to worry about. Every time she went down for a nap, I worried that something would happen. Every time I bathed her or walked with her anywhere I worried. If it was really hot outside or really cold, I worried. I still worry about her every step of the way.
The Solution to the Worry
Recently, I created a solution that has helped me tremendously and I wanted to share it with other worriers like me. The solution is a Worry Log. Everyday, I write a list of the things that I am worrying about and then I give them each a percentage. I then add up all the percentages and I can easily see how much worry I am carrying.
Here is an example.
|What I am worried about||Percentage of Worry|
|My daughter falling and hurting herself||15%|
|Not having enough money for savings||10%|
|Greta getting older||10%|
|Cold weather/icy roads||8%|
How It Works
Re-order each item to make sure the item with the highest percentage is at the top. Each day, revisit the same list and edit it instead of making a new list. For me, my worries do not change that dramatically from day-to-day. However, the amount of worry for each item does and so, I do adjust the percentages every day. Some days, for example, my worry about the icy roads may increase depending upon the weather.
Every day, add new items that have started to worry you. Also, every day, delete items that are no longer causing you worry. I will actually reduce an item to 0% and leave it on the list for a few days to show myself how I have made progress by no longer worrying about that particular item. It makes me feel successful to see that I no longer worry about something that was once troubling me.
Try to make the percentages equal 100%. However, if something is very worrisome to and you hink it deserves a higher percentage that will cause the total to exceed 100%, then add it. A Total higher than 100% is a helpful clue to your level of worry.
On the opposite note, if you cannot achieve 100% because you simply do not have a lot of worry on a certain day, then there is no need to try to find additional things to worry about. Enjoy the low level of worry! Congratulate yourself!
How To Use Your Total Score
The Total score is tallied from all the percentages listed above it. This total scores is essentially your Stress Score. Some days unfortunately, that Total percentage has exceeded 100%. That is a very helpful red flag for me. The higher the Total percentage goes, the more diligent I have to be about adding additional self-care practices to my daily life. I will be sure to increase my self-care activities when I see my Worry Log percentage rise.
I hope this tool helps you as much as it has helped me. Please feel free to comment and let me know if you’ve used this technique and how it’s working for you.