Today in our series on yoga and emotions, we’ll talk about worry. On the surface, worry seems primarily like an action, a verb – we all worry sometimes. But worry is also an emotion and a state of mind. How do you feel when you’re worried? Tense, stressed, maybe short of breath? And it’s not as if worrying is an action or task we can complete like washing dishes – when the dishes are clean, you’re done, but there never seems to be a natural time to finish worrying. It can fill our minds and consume our energy for hours or even days. And worry, unlike dishes, is all in our minds. It may not feel like it, but we have control over whether or not or how much we worry. Let’s consider some tactics to free ourselves from worry.
Much like fear, worry can be combated with faith. If we have faith that things will turn out as they’re meant to, then we don’t have to worry about them. Also, like fear and anger, worry can be soothed with breathing. Calm, deep, conscious breathing will slow us down and help us relax when we’re all worked up with worry.
When we worry, we get caught up in concerns about the future. Therefore, a good way to combat worry is to focus on the present moment. Bring your attention away from what could happen and notice what’s actually happening right now. Go for a walk and really pay attention to the air on your skin, the color of the sky, what plants are blooming on your neighbors’ yards. Cooking and gardening are good practical tasks that help us stay in the present moment because we have to pay close attention to what we’re doing right now – otherwise we’ll burn dinner or pull up the flowers!
Try a little meditation to help with worry. It may take a while to calm your mind or feel like you’re getting anywhere, but meditating is the ultimate exercise in living in the present moment. A tranquil meditating mind has no room for worry!
If you have children, go play with them. Play is a wonderful way to bring yourself into the present moment, because you can’t play well at any game if your mind is elsewhere. A physical activity like joining a sports team or taking a dance class can be helpful for worry, too: our bodies need physical activity, and getting that activity from playing soccer or tap dancing introduces some play and fun that help us to relax. Plus you’ll make connections with other people – talking with someone can certainly help to reduce worry or put it in perspective.
Trying some of these tips can help you to worry less, and may even make your days feel happier!