In our culture, “anxiety” has become a naughty word. It carries all kinds of negative connotations when we think about it. To be clear, I am not referring to “anxiety disorder” in this article. That is a serious condition that could require professional guidance. I’m referring to the state of “over-worrying”, which is super common these days.
You need to understand that everybody worries sometimes. Everyone’s worries are different. Some may worry about scary finances, unresolved health issues, or toxic relationships at home or work. The list continues.
When you can spend so much time worrying about “all of the things” you can easily become overwhelmed and paralyzed. You cant find the time or energy to find solutions because you are uber focused on all of the projects, people, or problems that you’re struggling with.
Whatever your specific case may be, worry happens whether we intend for it to or not. This can become a serious problem, though, when worry starts to take over your life.
If this reflects your state of mind then what is your goal? Do you want to stop worrying long enough to get your bearings, or are you hoping for something…more?
What if, instead of constantly worrying, you could become excited, then use this excitement to get more done?
I know this may sound strange, but it is a strategy that works. You can redirect that “anxiety” into excitement and perform better. According to research, Allison Brooks, of Harvard Medical School, says that if we “reappraise anxiety” as excitement we can perform better.
Here are 7 practical ways to shift anxiety to excitement:
- Live in the Here Now
When your brain is in a constant state of worry, you are usually preoccupied with the past or super focused on potential future events. Either you’re worried about something which happened long ago, or you’re caught up in fretting about something still to come. Neither is going to get you anywhere. Worry has a way of trapping you anywhere but here. Healing from the past and planning for the future are both equally important. But getting counseling around your past and making plans for your awesome future require you to take action. Taking action is what will alleviate some of the burdensome anxiety. To stop worrying now, you need to focus on the present. Try asking yourself high mileage questions instead of doing nothing. What small step can you take now to change your situation? What activities interest you right now? What can you be grateful for today?
- Realize This “Overthinking” Gets You Nowhere Fast
Worrying stops you cold. It is a type of fear that is paralyzing. Most procrastination is caused by worrying. With this in mind, ask yourself: why am I wasting my time and energy worrying about this? Sometimes just recognizing what a waste worry is, will be enough to derail it altogether. Especially when you have better places to be and far more interesting things to do.
- Immerse Yourself into Something Interesting or “Exciting”
Worry needs your attention to survive. Start doing an activity that is engaging to your mind, body, or spirit and you’ll find you might forget all about worrying. Try a new craft or hobby that you previously thought you didn’t have enough time for.
- Rewrite the Script
Learn the lost art of reframing your thoughts. Reframing simply means changing the way you see and think about a negative situation. Instead of seeing everything that is blowing up around you as negative, maybe you could look for an opportunity where others only see the obvious crisis. Once you have it, visualize the winning scenario in your mind. Picture yourself handling matters. See yourself as a “boss”. You would be surprised at how often getting “excited” about a “problem” has led to a solution.
- Reevaluate Your Diet
You already know that food has a profound effect on emotions and mental state. There is a ton of research on the gut-brain axis. If you find yourself constantly dealing with anxiety and finding it harder and harder to access that excitement, try adding yogurt, kimchi, or some other healthy probiotic-rich foods that feed your good gut bacteria. Experiment and have fun with this.
- Ask for Help
I know it’s easier to worry about everything and not reach out for help, but it is not a sustainable model for health and happiness. We all need somebody. We were not created to go it alone. Whether it is a task that needs to be delegated or a conversation with a trusted friend or advisor, sharing your burdens is smart when it comes to defeating anxiety.
- Experiment with Different Environments
In the end, worry can become very attached to the familiar. It can become your go-to mindset that can be triggered by your environment. Challenge yourself to switch it up. Find a different way to do things. Look for a different environment to do your work. Try eating your lunch on your back porch or at a local park. Routines are great but if your daily routine is triggering anxiety, don’t be afraid to try something new. Explore where this path takes you. It could end up being very exciting and lead you to get more stuff done.
The underlying point in all of these strategies is to enjoy the journey. This is where you find the excitement and enthusiasm, which leads to getting things done. The rest is all momentum and a whole lot of brand-new accomplishments just waiting to happen.
Be well + prosper,