"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Dealing With Worry

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.


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.

25 comments:

Karen Walker said...

Very wise post, Sylvia. I remember hearing a saying years ago, if you pray, why worry." So true

Rachna Chhabria said...

Love your post. Its also very timely for me as right now I am in a BIG WORRY MODE:(

Madilyn Quinn said...

These are good tips. I've found drinking a bunch of water and exercising (or just going on a cleaning spree) tends to help calm me, but I have a pretty severe anxiety disorder, so it only goes so far. Meditation has never helped. Sitting in silence doing nothing lets my mind wander too much. Can't do it.

- Madilyn Quinn @ NovelBrews

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

All very excellent ideas, Sylvia. I like the suggestion to take a break because we writers tend to sit way too long each day. Often, far beyond the productive stage.

M Pax said...

Great advice. There is so much to stress over in the realm of writing.

shelly said...

Awesome suggestions.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I like the False Evidence Appearing Real. Much of what we worry about turns out okay, and there's no point in the worry. But it's hard not to, of course. I try to face my fears head on when possible to reduce the stress. Great tips for dealing with this.

Lynda R Young said...

I hadn't heard that dehydration can cause depression. Good thing I drink a lot of water!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Such great advice not just for writing but for life in general. Drinking some water right now.

Susan Says

Hart Johnson said...

There is also BURN THEM!!! Erm... and what I mean by that isn't as drastic as it sounds. Write them down and burn them, releasing your worries to the "out there" whatever your faith. A pagan would burn them with sage, but you can skip that part.

Stephen Tremp said...

Sylvia, many people fail to realize the power of meditation, especially during challenging times. And thanks for stopping by!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Great advice, especially regarding hydration. People don't realize or remember, too, that coffee dehydrates. We're an overly caffeinated society, which makes for more depression. I'm glad for the reminder and for my gym membership.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Excellent steps! I'm usually back to a better view after taking a walk, working out, or praying - or some combo of all three. I really like to pray on my walks or in the middle of stretching out.

Unknown said...

Hydrating- I never do enough of that...or reminding myself that I'm allowed a worry-free day. Thanks for the great post!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Good tips. Worry just steals today and tomorrow from us. Besides, over 90% of what we worry about never comes to pass.

Heather M. Gardner said...

This sounds good, in theory.
Now to make it work, in practice.
Thanks for sharing.
Heather

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Exercising and hydration! Very important. I'm one of those rare people who really does drink my quota of water a day. Often more.

Cherie Reich said...

Wonderful suggestions on how to tame the worry monster!

Chemist Ken said...

for me, joining IWSG has been a great way to seek help. I used to drink a lot more water, but then I got out of the habit. Slowly trying to work my way back.

E. Arroyo said...

Some great tips!

cleemckenzie said...

Staying hydrated is probably the one I can do most easily! The rest are things I have to work at. Great post. And thanks for your visit to the Write Game this October.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I do think writers tend to be worries. It's part of how our brains work. Coming up with every possible (bad) way the story could go!

Murees Dupé said...

I will definitely try your tips. I always need help to control my worrying. All the best.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Are you a good meditator?
That's the hardest thing to master "in the whole United States of Georgia".

~ D-FensDogG
'Loyal American Underground'

Colleen Chen said...

Always inspiring to read your posts. Thank you. :)