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Why we are hard-wired to worry, and what we can do to calm down

The mind always needs something

We worry because our pre-conditioned mind cannot be left alone. Like a motor that cannot be switched off, the mind keeps running, performing background thinking at all times.

Studies show people would rather prefer to be electrocuted with mild electric shocks than to just sit in a room doing nothing.

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Why we are hard-wired to worry, and what we can do to calm down

Why we are hard-wired to worry, and what we can do to calm down

http://theconversation.com/why-we-are-hard-wired-to-worry-and-what-we-can-do-to-calm-down-127674

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

Humans are wired to worry

As it turns out. Our brains are continually imagining futures that will meet our needs and things that could stand in the way of them. And sometimes any of those needs may be in conflict with each other.

Worry is when that vital planning gets the better of us and occupies our attention to no good effect.

The mind always needs something

We worry because our pre-conditioned mind cannot be left alone. Like a motor that cannot be switched off, the mind keeps running, performing background thinking at all times.

Studies show people would rather prefer to be electrocuted with mild electric shocks than to just sit in a room doing nothing.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of observing our mind's activity and is the antidote to worry.

Mindfulness results in increased attention, better working memory, and an awareness of mind while enriching the neural connections of the brain.

Applying mindfulness

Yoga and Tai Chi, are other examples of applying mindfulness in your present moment.

Other systems like Cognitive Therapy, Self-Compassion, prayer, and visualization are techniques to replace negative imagination with good thoughts.

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Anxiety is rewarding

Each time we worry and nothing bad happens, our mind connects worry with preventing harm:

Worry → nothing bad happens.

And the takeaway is, "It's a good thing I worried."&nbs...

Beliefs about worry

  • If I worry, I'll never have a bad surprise.
  • It's safer if I worry. We believe that the act of worrying itself somehow lowers the likelihood of a dreaded outcome. 
  • I show I care by worrying. We need to distinguish between caring about a situation and worrying needlessly and fruitlessly about it. 
  • Worrying motivates me. We need to differentiate between unproductive worry and productive concern and problem solving.
  • Worrying helps me solve problems. Extreme worry is more likely to interfere with problem-solving. 

Tools to assist us with worry

  • Calm the nervous system with guided muscle relaxation, meditation, and exercise. 
  • Notice when you're worrying and any beliefs that reinforce worry.  Awareness of the process gives us more choice in how we respond.
  • Embrace uncertainty. Most of the things we care about in life involve uncertainty. It takes considerable practice to begin to embrace it.
  • Live in the present. Practice focusing your attention on the present in everyday activities like taking a shower, walking, or talking with a friend, as well as in more formal practices like meditation or yoga.
  • When we face our fears head-on, they tend to diminish. Deliberately accept what you're afraid of: "It's possible I'll miss my flight." 

Mindful Wakeup

Mindful Wakeup

First thing in the morning:

  • Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body.
  • Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths—breathing in through your nose and out ...

Mindful Eating

  • Breathe before eating. 
  • Listen to your body and measure your hunger.
  • Eat according to your hunger. You can more mindfully choose what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. 
  • Practice peaceful eating. It’s not easy to digest or savor your food if you aren’t relaxed.
  • If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. Make a mindful choice about what to eat based on what you really enjoy.

Mindful Pause

  • Trip over what you want to do. If you intend to do some yoga or to meditate, put your yoga mat or your meditation cushion in the middle of your floor.
  • Refresh your triggers regularly - add variety or make them funny so they stick with you longer.
  • Create new patterns. You could try a series of “If this, then that” messages to create easy reminders to shift into slow brain.

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Anxiety vs. Fear

  • Fear is what you feel in the moment when someone comes at you with a knife. 
  • Anxiety is about the anticipation of an event. Anxiety is often problem-solving — but wi...

Mindfulness = anxiety antidote

Trying to push the worries out of your head is inherently problematic because to be vigilant about not thinking about something, your brain needs to keep it in mind. 

Mindfulness does the opposite by making you aware of your state of anxiousness.

Build the Mindfulness muscles

  • Acceptance: accept that the worries are here and stop trying to make them go away.
  • Attention: get out of your thoughts and focus on the world around you.
  • Labeling: When a worry pops up, label it as “a worrying thought.” It’s not you. Do not identify with it and don't let it overtake you.

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