When I was in my late teens I was diagnosed with Crohns disease, an auto-immune disease that affects the bowel. Simply put, your immune system thinks your bowel is a foreign object and fights it as if it were a disease. While I didn’t suffer as acutely as some, I was on some pretty serious (and expensive) drugs.
Over the years you begin to notice patterns in your illness, and in particular what causes flare ups. For me, it was stress that really made me ill with crohns. Since being diagnosed I have been on a bit of a mission to overcome the source of the problem. The results have been surprising. After being on medication for over ten years, on my last hospital visit I was given the all clear to come off all medication as there was no evidence of further damage or symptoms.
Here are the ways in which I have overcome the stress of worrying. Of course they won’t work for everyone, and like everything it is a case of trial and error.
1. Delayed WorryingDaily worrying, and you’ll know exactly what I mean if you are a worrier, is massively draining. It’s also a habit, and one that I thought couldn’t be overcome. It turns out, just like any other habit you can break it by simply becoming aware of it and then replacing it with a new habit. To start to minimise the time I spent worrying, I would simply just notice it and the use the ‘delaying’ technique. I would ‘allow’ myself to worry about it in 24 hours if it was still a concern. This technique showed me that 99% of my worries were just fleeting thoughts, and if you let them pass, they will do just that and will no longer be a source of worry.
2.Put the problem into perspectiveIf there really is a problem, the second technique is perspective. Is the problem or worry something that will still bother me tomorrow? Next week? Next year? Most problems are short term and aren’t worth the worry and concern we allocate them.
3. Improve your communication with your partner and friends
Be honest. Explain what worries you and what makes you stressed. The more the people around you understand what worries and stresses you, the more they can support you (and this can be reciprocated too).
4. Get your finances in orderOne of the biggest things in life to stress about is money. Save more, spend less, automate everything, just do whatever you need to do to eradicate the stress. Also realise, you will never feel like you have enough money, no matter how much you have. If you’re clean and dry and well fed, you can probably let go of a lot of the worry.
5. Don’t endlessly worry what other people are thinking about youThe theory that everyone else is too busy thinking about themselves is true. If nobody has said they have an issue with you, presume they don’t.
6.Deal with your past
A bit like having a house clear out, a life clear out is a good way to start afresh.
7. Have a cry
Crying is just a way of relieving built up emotion, it doesn’t mean you have to feel sad or angry or anything really. Cry, let the excess emotion out, and move on.
8. Be grateful
No matter how stressed or worried you feel, gratitude seems to have a magical ability to re-centre you.
9. Change your work situation if it’s causing you stress.
Work to live, not the other way around. Take steps towards doing work you enjoy that you don’t spend everyday worrying about. The extra money is rarely worth it, and besides, if you pursue work you’re passionate about, you’ll probably make more anyway.