The thoughts are spinning around in your head. You can’t get to sleep, or get back to sleep. It’s a lonely feeling and on top of it you’re exhausted. Why? You were awake worrying. Maybe you couldn’t get to sleep, maybe you woke up at 2 am after you finally fell asleep, or maybe you awoke early in the morning before your alarm. Your thoughts were spinning with “what if?”
- Financial stress – On the latest American Psychological Association’s survey of stress, women’s top worries were about their financial situation. If you have a stagnant wage, a fixed income, or don’t have a good idea where new clients will come from you might have worries about how you will keep up financially. You might worry about how you will pay for your children’s education (or your own), or healthcare expenses, or how you might have extra to pay for something that rejuvenates you in your life. Best to be proactive and seek out some help in planning. Women are often great planners and know how to stretch a dollar, and are even shown to be better investors than men – so if you are not already doing so, don’t be intimidated by organizing your finances and seeking a professional to start planning for your priorities.
- Work concerns – Most of us have too much to do and not enough time. It’s our nervous system that serves to help us deal with the relentless demand and constant change in our lives. It has two parts an “On” button which gives us the energy to solve problems, focus, and run around during our day. And an “Off” button which gives us calm and rejuvenation. Though we’re supposed to have access to both our “On” and “Off” button, the way we live and work today, we are “Always On”. Waking up with worries about your “to-do” list is a classic sign of an ‘overactive On button’. To press your “Off” button when you can’t get to sleep, try Left Nostril Breathing (cover your right nostril and breathe only through your life). It activates the relaxation nerve and helps you turn off your racing thoughts.
- Health and healthcare – Many of us are concerned about our health or that of our loved ones. Especially if you’ve had a health scare yourself you might negatively forecast about the outcome. Try to stay present. Wait for the results to come back before you spin your mental energy with worries. Use your concerns as a chance to commit to taking even better care of yourself with the food you eat, how often you exercise, and the way you spend your time. Do your research and ask around to people you know who have dealt with a similar situation (don’t get your information off the internet!) Develop a sense of intuition to understand what your body needs and trust that you (or your loved one) will follow the treatment that will help you get better. Read the stories of people who have been resilient in the face of what you face and fill your mind with the energy and commitment to have a similar outcome.
- Problems of your loved ones – you are a dedicated family member, parent, sibling and community member, and when those around you are facing challenges you probably take them on as your own. Have a parent in failing health who needs help? Have a child or friend who is experiencing addiction and you are frustrated and concerned? Rather than lie awake at night when you need to rejuvenate, set aside “worry time” during the day. Take a designated amount of time (say 10 minutes, or 30 minutes) and write out your worries. The key is to ask yourself to come up with options and keep writing until you come up with a solution(s). You can also have a designated time to talk with a friend about your worries, as long as you both agree the other person won’t ‘take on’ those worries and you will do the same for her.
Another approach you can use if you have a problem is this: before you go to sleep you can ask your brain to problem solve the situation for you (we access our subconscious problem solving when we are using our “Off” button). Or you can put that “problem” into a locked trunk and open it again in the morning – using your unused natural abilities to know how to act in the situation.
- Future of the country – As women we are “Mama Bears”. We feel a sense of responsibility to take care of people and our planet. We are disturbed when there is violence in the world, when there are polarization and strife among people in our society, and when we see that many people are not treated with justice. We only feel “stress” when we focus on aspects of situations we can’t control. Rather than burying your head in the sand, think about what you CAN do in your life, and consider how you can expand what you can control. Can you participate in an organization in your town (or start one?) Can you write a blog or call your elected officials to advocate for change? Be a warrior, not a worrier!