Have you ever asked yourself when the last time worrying made a situation turn out for the better was? If you were to rack your brain now you’d be hard pushed to find one. Why? Because worrying leaves us with no option but to fear the future and anticipate the worst case scenario.
So if worrying does us no good, why do we do it? Well, it could be down our brain not having the time to evolve at the rate of pace our society has. James Clear states that our brains traditionally operated on an Immediate Return Environment – where our actions deliver an immediate response. This looks much like an animal who feels threatened in their environment fleeing the cause of that threat in order to reduce the stress it feels. Once the threat is gone, the animal becomes calmer and everything returns to normal.
However, the nature of our society means that we now live in what Clear calls a Delayed Response Environment, meaning that our actions don’t return an immediate solution to our problem. For example, we all know that working hard at our job will benefit us in the long, even though it might not yield immediate rewards such as a pay rise or a promotion. This leaves us open to worry because our embedded need for a conclusion to our action goes unfulfilled, thus leading to uncertainty.
So even though it seems that worrying is the natural response of a brain that hasn’t fully adapted to an environment it lives in – this would take thousands of years – there are a number of steps that you can take to reduce the anxiety you feel on a day to day basis.
Break Things Down
This technique, offered by Clear, is one that will satisfy your need for instant relief. It involves focusing one step ahead rather than at some point in the far future. For example, if you’re anxious about losing weight for a particular event focus instead on just cooking a healthy meal the next time you eat.
When you notice worrisome thoughts creeping in, switch to a positive image as soon as you can. Not only does this teach you to be more mindful of what you think, but it also trains your brain to focus on something other than anxious thoughts.
Meditation is a key tool for reducing the mental chatter that so often leads to worry. A calmer, quieter mind is less prone to experiencing anxious thoughts.
Know Your Mind
We have thousands of thoughts a day yet many of us have no idea what goes on inside our brains when we have them. Ultimately, our thoughts are nothing more than electrical signals that produce a chemical reaction in the body. If you want to reduce the control your thoughts have, look into the science behind them. After all, knowledge is power as they say.
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