This morning I've been thinking about "worry". Everyone worries, but writers often seem to live and feed off of the emotion. Yes, I call worry an emotion because it's an extension of fear.
The Bible tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
But I’m human. Which means, even with my faith, I tend to struggle with worry. Being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. It makes you strive to be better than you were yesterday.
Worry has the power to occupy our thoughts. What if I’m not good enough to get published? What if I only ever get one piece published? What if my next book is not a success? What if no one buys my book, even though they all seem to be buying that crap on the NYT bestseller list?
It doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your career – just starting, or multi book deal. The worry is always hovering around. So, what do you do when the reminder ‘not to worry” is not enough?
1) Face the Fear – Instead of suppressing the anxiety or running away from your perceived problems, it is important to deal with them as immediately as possible. Your uncertainty will only grow with time if you let it. Ask yourself what is truly causing you to panic, and what can you do about it right now – today. Take one day at a time. A friend of mine often refers to this anxiety as False Evidence Appearing Real, and says those emotions tend to flee with a proactive approach.
2) Meditate – Whether you spend the time in prayer, or just focus on the sounds of the ocean coming from your stereo, meditation can offer you the needed break from the brain clutter causing you to seize up. This practice helps you achieve greater clarity and focus, and decreases the potential for worry.
3) Work it out – sometimes #1 isn’t enough. Maybe you find yourself in a holding pattern. Or maybe you just can’t seem to escape those feelings. Exercise may not solve your problems, but engaging in ANY physical activity can take your mind off of things. Activity is a natural stress reliever that can clear your thinking, and result in a more positive attitude. Hate to exercise? Simple chores such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming away cobwebs from the ceiling, or dusting those high shelves provides enough movement to provide your brain with the needed energy boost to get back on track.
4) Stay hydrated – Scientists claim dehydration can cause depression. While most of us roll our eyes at the “it’s important to drink enough water everyday” lecture, why risk your mental health? Drink more water, and feel the unease melt away.
5) Take a break – just as meditation and exercise can reinforce your state of mind, so too can taking a break. If you spend your days sitting too long in one place, or there is a constant flux causing your heart rate to increase exponentially, then you need to periodically need a break. Allow time for fun and relaxation so your feelings of anxiety can subside.
6) Seek help – Sometimes it’s impossible to go it alone. If none of these steps offer any relief, or the feeling just seem to continually increase, then it’s time to ask for help. Sometimes just finding others facing similar dilemmas is enough to help you. Join a writers group, find critique partners, and talk to young students who want to write. If those encounters still aren’t enough, then it may be time to find a counselor. Anxiety disorders are nothing to be ashamed of, or to take lightly. YOU ARE WORTH HELPING!If you find yourself plagued by worry, try one of these six steps. Worrying by itself will not help you to solve your problems. Continued worry can only compound your situation, and endanger your health. Make a commitment to reduce your anxiety levels today. The power is yours, and it begins with the choice to stop worrying.