I’ve come to learn that burnout is often not only caused by work, it’s also caused by worrying. One of the root causes of my insomnia struggle came from my relentless obsessive, troubling, disquieting thoughts. Each morning I woke up, I felt mentally exhausted. Worrying distorts our perception of reality and circumstances. Like anxiety, we fear something that hasn’t yet happened, or we’re obsessing over something that has happened that we’re powerless to do anything about. We’re kept up at night thinking, thinking, and thinking, essentially wrestling with ourselves. And worse, if you’re an analyzer, which I used to be, trying to analyze the behaviors and the whys of others can make you crazy. That made me crazy.
It’s a fact that people burn more mental energy than physical, and this is one reason I’ve been spending less time on certain social sites. In the past, social websites like Instagram and any site heavy on visuals often evoked negative emotions within me or reminded me of unresolved issues. I’d internalize all kinds of information, linking external issues to personal ones. I’ve found that the less time I spend on social sites, the less I worry, but the Internet isn’t the core of where all of our worries come from, obviously. In life, we’ve got the weight on our shoulders of financial security, our marriages or partnerships, making sure we’re inviting the right people into our lives, stress from our jobs, tasks we failed to complete in a certain time frame, making sure we’re eating healthy enough, exercising enough, sleeping enough.
A person like me has an expansive medical history that, believe it or not, I don’t worry about. For those that know me know that I’ve been through serious health challenges. Some days, my patience is tested. I’ve got well over five diseases including heart disease, a genetic syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. I don’t sit at home worrying that I’ll have a heart attack. I don’t sit at home worrying about symptoms that I’m not currently dealing with. I’ve made choices to not worry about the next time chronic fatigue has me bed ridden. No. Instead, as a productive/proactive thinker and doer, I channel energy physically, through swimming, or yoga, or other fun dance exercises. I also don’t drown myself in the unknown and what ifs of circumstances like the basic one’s we deal with on the regular. In the digital age, though, it’s nearly impossible to not worry, right?
There are mindful practices you can try each day to minimize stress and kick your worries to the curb. One of these mindful practices includes: move slower. Do activities slower. Communicate with people a little slower. Disconnect once and again, and go outside for a while if you’re able to. Seize each day.
Another way to lead a life free of worry: honor your time. By this I mean, if you’ve set time aside to work at whatever job you’re doing whether it be from home or away at an office, honor that time. When you’re at home with loved ones or your significant other, be present. In the evenings, I’m hardly on my phone because my partner comes home from work, and he and I enjoy the few hours of our evening together. We’ll go out for a walk. We’ll eat dinner together and talk.
And lastly, this one mindful practice is the most important: stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and why and with whom and how. Try to not allow the internet or external sources to drain your mental energy. In the past when I suffered with depression, I kept peeking in on what everyone else was doing in their lives. A terrible habit made possible by the internet. I can’t tell you how many times I’d find myself worrying about my future because I kept looking at how great everyone else’s appeared to be. My actions sparked reactions and I’d find myself saying, “Ugh, I can do that,” or, “Wait, I’m doing the wrong career, I want to do what she’s doing!” Or, I’d start worrying and thinking, “Did I choose the right path for my life?” My philosophy is: if you’ve found something that makes you happy or you enjoy the process of what you’re doing, you’re on the right path. See, worrying also can eventually cause you to doubt your entire existence. It’s a negative ripple effect.
Being present and within yourself fosters peaceful, serene living. Everyone has a different journey, back-story, and story in general. We’re all meant to do something great and unique, even if right now it doesn’t feel that way. Worrying robs us of the goodness life brings and the happiness of today. Since I’ve been looking deeper into my own life, my gifts, the things I enjoy doing, I’ve nearly eliminated worry from my life all together.
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” — Leo F. Buscaglia
Originally published at medium.com