Probably the most important factor in worry prevention is the prevention of fatigue.
I have found in my own life that when I’m worn-out physically, I am susceptible to worry. Much like the way fatigue lowers our resistance to the common cold, fatigue lowers our resistance to the emotions of fear and worry.
- Rest before you get tired. Plan and take your next vacation before you need it.
- Learn to relax. Since it is not our brain that tires from mental work, we need only to focus on relaxing our muscles in order to prevent fatigue. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company points this out in a leaflet on fatigue: “Hard work by itself seldom causes fatigue which cannot be cured by a good sleep or rest. Worry, tenseness, and emotional upset are three of the biggest causes of fatigue. Often they are to blame when physical or mental work seems to be the cause. Remember that a tense muscle is a working muscle. Ease up! Save energy for the important duties.” So, the next time you are sitting at your desk, feeling tired and stressed-out, sit back, close your eyes and begin speaking silently to your muscles, telling them to relax. Start with your toes and work your way up your body, paying special attention to the jaw muscles where we store much of our nervous tension. It is also very important to relax our eye muscles since they burn up one fourth of all the nervous energies consumed by the body.
- Get enough physical exercise in the open air. Without becoming physically exhausted at something other than work at least three times a week, we all run the risk of developing worry habits. Work yourself into a good sweat and you’ll see that worry and depression will ooze out your body with the sweat. Physical activity is absolutely vital in any worry prevention program. Dr. Link in his book, The Rediscovery of Man, writes about a patient who wanted to commit suicide. Dr. Link knew that arguing would only make matters worse, so he said to the man, “If you are going to commit suicide anyway, you might as well do it in a heroic fashion. Run around the block until you drop dead.” He tried it, not once but several times, and each time he felt better in his mind if not in his muscles. By the third night, he had achieved what Dr. Link intended in the first place – he was so physically tired (and physically relaxed) that he slept like a log. Later he joined an athletic club and began to compete in competitive sports. Soon he was feeling so good that he wanted to live forever.
- Develop good working habits. Good working habits can only be developed by planning and organizing your day in advance. Be certain that you expend energy only on those tasks which take you closer to your goals. Prioritize your tasks. Focus on only one task at a time until it is complete. Spend some time every day reviewing your progress towards you goals. In other words “Plan – Do – And then Review” making small adjustments to your course every day.
- Live life with a passion. If you can’t get passionate about your work, perhaps it’s time for a career change. If you can’t get passionate about your play time, perhaps it’s time for a new hobby. If you can’t get passionate about anything, perhaps it’s time for an attitude adjustment. People who are passionate about life spend it with people who are the same. They begin their day with the decision to give it all they’ve got. They’re going to go big or stay home!