I’m a worrier.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  I’m also not afraid to confirm to you, my JOLT family, that 99% of the things I worry about don’t actually come to pass. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a person who thinks a LOT about potential scenarios (just ask my husband, Brady); honestly, sometimes, my worry has indeed been helpful in my professional and personal decisions.


But it shifted after Stephen died.  My worry was much more debilitating.  I was afraid that something sudden and tragic was going to happen to my younger son Brendan, my husband Brady, and my circle of family and friends.  Was it entirely normal for me to feel this way?  To a point, yes.  But when I realized it was stealing chances for joy for me and my family, I realized I needed some help to process this part of my grief.  


And worry is not unique to the bereaved.  In our fast-paced and demanding world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of constant worry. We worry about our finances, our health, our relationships, and countless other aspects of our lives. However, what we often fail to realize is that worry is not only unproductive but also a thief of joy. It robs us of the present moment and prevents us from experiencing true happiness. 


The Nature of Worry:

Worry is a state of mind characterized by fear, anxiety, and unease about the future. It stems from our desire to control outcomes and a lack of trust in our ability to handle challenges that may arise. While some level of concern is natural, excessive worry becomes a burden that weighs heavily on our emotional and mental well-being.


So, how does worry impact our ability to see and feel joy?


Loss of Present Moment: Worry transports us to a future that hasn’t happened yet, robbing us of the beauty and joy present in the present moment. We become preoccupied with “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, overlooking the opportunities and blessings that surround us. As a JOLT’er, you know that pausing and looking for “one little thing” to be thankful for anchors us in the present moment. And in the present moment, we cannot focus on the regrets of the past nor the worries of the future.  We are in the here and now, and for this moment, however fleeting, we are safe and okay.  


Increased Stress and Anxiety: Excessive worry triggers a stress response in our bodies, releasing cortisol and adrenaline, which can negatively impact our physical health. Persistent worry breeds anxiety, making it difficult to find peace and contentment in our daily lives.


Limited Perspective: Worry narrows our focus, making it challenging to see beyond our concerns. It restricts our ability to appreciate the positive aspects of our lives, hindering personal growth, and stifling our joy.


So, what is the solution?  It’s not a simple fix but rather a commitment you make to yourself to cultivate different habits and mindset.  For me, I recommit to that practice every day. Here are some of the things that have worked for me:


Cultivate Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness allows us to stay grounded in the present moment, fostering an awareness of our thoughts and emotions without judgment. By observing our worries without getting entangled in them, we can regain a sense of clarity and peace.


Challenge Anxious Thoughts: Often, worry is based on irrational or exaggerated thoughts. By challenging these thoughts with evidence and alternate perspectives, we can reduce their power over us and cultivate a more balanced outlook.


Take Action: Worry often stems from a feeling of helplessness. Taking proactive steps toward our goals and addressing our concerns can empower us and diminish anxiety. By focusing on what we can control, we can regain a sense of agency and alleviate worry.


Practice Self-Care: Engaging in activities that bring us joy, such as hobbies, exercise, or spending time with loved ones, helps counteract the effects of worry. Prioritizing self-care nurtures our overall well-being and enhances our resilience in the face of challenges.


Seek Support: Sharing our worries with trusted friends, family, or professionals can provide us with a fresh perspective and emotional support. Sometimes, talking it out can help alleviate the burden of worry and open up new possibilities for finding solutions. For example, when I find myself spiraling into a storm of worry, I talk to my husband, and he reminds me that everything is okay, and if it is not, we are strong enough to navigate it.


Worry, with its ability to steal our joy and hinder our well-being, is a formidable adversary. However, by understanding its nature and implementing strategies to overcome it, we can break free from its grip. Embracing mindfulness, challenging anxious thoughts, taking action, practicing self-care, and seeking support are all essential steps on the path to reclaiming our joy and living a happier, more fulfilled life. Remember, joy resides in the present moment, and it’s up to us to seize it by releasing worry’s hold and embracing the beauty that surrounds us.

With oodles of love and gratitude,