In the epic movie, Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara’s trademark saying is, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow.” She was wise whether she realized it or not. You see, when we are in the thick of it, under pressure, and maxed out with stress, we can reach a limit. One more thing just may be too much, so we should intentionally decide to worry about it tomorrow.
I’m not saying we sweep things under the rug. That strategy only creates a dusty, cluttered life! What I am suggesting, though, is we not tackle more than the day at hand. Each day has enough things going on that require our energy and attention. Focus on them and don’t add tomorrow into the mix
My mom was a worry wart. I saw it eat her up, and she eventually died of cancer. I cannot say without a shadow of a doubt that stress killed her, but I do know it didn’t help her find happiness in the moment. She would get all-consumed with worry and miss the joy right in front of her. At a very young age, I swore I would do better. I must have been in junior high when I started a habit I continue with today.
As much as I try, my mind can race with wild thoughts during the night. I keep a pad of paper and a pen by my bed, and when something enters my mind that will not let go, I write it out for safe keeping. I tell my brain, “Okay, it is jotted down so I won’t forget, but now is not the time to discuss it, ponder it, or process it.” I let it go knowing I will remember it in the morning, and I go back to sleep.
When I awake, I may toss the paper aside because it was just senseless worry. Or, if it is really important, I will take action on it that very day. For instance, if you have a spot on your skin that worries you at night, you write down on the paper to make an appointment to get it checked out. The next day, call your dermatologist! Take the action you can today and don’t worry about next steps until you have more information. One thing at a time.
You don’t have control over everything, but you can decide not to let worry destroy restful sleep you need or steal your joy. When we don’t sleep, we wake up exhausted before we even begin our day. We then tend to grab caffeine, fattening foods, and sweets to make us feel better. Well, we have just added to our stress by increasing our waistline! And often the wrong foods disrupt our sleep, and we fall into a vicious cycle.
A lack of sleep also impairs our judgement, and we lose our sense of reality…meaning small things can feel HUGE to us when we are emotionally spent. We struggle with perspective and can react rather than respond.
I suggest you give the pad of paper by your bed a try. Journaling is also a good tool for brain dumping things that are bothering you. As Shrek would say, “Better out than in!” Do you know that the Bible has 365 verses that say, “Don’t worry?” Seems to me God knew our human nature and reminds us to turn it over to Him.
Do what you can and let go of the rest. Use the Circle of Influence:
- Draw a circle which represents the entire world.
- Draw a second circle within that circle, and that is your life.
- Now, draw a smaller circle within that, and this is what you really have control over…not the world and not your life around you (friends, family, job, neighborhood, etc.)…no, the only thing you have control over is your own thoughts, behaviors, actions, and faith.
We can certainly be concerned about world events and local tragedies. We get involved and volunteer where we can, but ultimately, spending time and energy worrying in these areas will wear you out. This does nothing for your own life, and God can’t use those who are burnt out. Besides being a great tool for stress management, the Circle of Influence is also a way to remind us to pray without ceasing for those things in which we have no control…pretty much everything!
My first book has sold the most copies, and I believe it is because it is light, encouraging, inspirational, and offers quick tips for reducing stress. A Healthier, Happier You offers 101 ways for you to worry less and create more harmony and balance. Get your copy today!