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What, me worry?


Beautiful Readers,

worry. Fret. Stress. Panic. Fear. Concern. Consternation. Agitation. Anxiety. Angst. Nervous. Tense. Like Eskimos have words for snow, we have a whole vocabulary of words to describe different ways of feeling uptight. This means one of two things. Either we love this stuff so much we preoccupy ourselves with it, or we spend a whole lot of time this way and we are hoping that if we can define it, name it, and tell others about it, we might get some help.

I’m guessing it’s both. We love the rush of instant energy that nervousness brings because it makes us feel powerful in situations where we feel powerless or afraid of something or someone. It’s the juice that gets us mammals going when we need to flee- so really stress is our friend in many ways. And since I always Ike to try to help a little in this blog- that’s my first bit of advice. Accept that stress is totally natural and that a healthy stress reaction is 100 percent normal, and not something you should try to eliminate. (as an aside, there are NO parts of you that should be eliminated).

Next, I’d wager that unless you are on an active campaign to keep your stress situation-appropriate, I’d bet that yours is getting play in circumstances where it may not belong. Late for work? Stress. Said something dumb? Stress. Those are examples of situations where stress is common but inappropriate.

Obviously a fight or flight reaction doesn’t help you apologize to your boss any better, or take back something you’ve said more effectively, if anything it leaves you tongue tied and floundering. But yet, it feel so right at the time.

Could it be that your feelings are betraying you in some situations? Im afraid they are. If you remember that our instincts are designed for much more primitive environments than 2010 would allow for, it makes sense. Our experiences may take place in Gogo Sushi but out instincts were honed in primordial jungles.

The real life stress situations like the examples mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg too. Humans are remarkable relative to other mammals in many ways, and one of the coolest ways is that we have supurb imaginations about the future. Its the thing that allows us to build rocketships and mix chocolate and mint in gelato.

So guess where most people spend most of their stress-energy? In total fantasy. Sure, if you have this big brain and a highly sensitive escape response why not have some fun? Bored at home? Why not worry about whether or not you’ll have thighs like your mom? Bored at work? Hmm….maybe you’ll get downsized. Or maybe no one likes you. Or maybe you blew your chance at promotion when you told that slightly off color joke last week? Not so bored anymore, right?

Statistics suggest that 90 percent of the stuff that we worry about never really happens at all. So why worry? Because we don’t believe that statistic. Try this exercise- for a day or two try writing down anything you worry might happen…and see if it ever comes true. I’d bet most of it doesn’t, and as much as our brains may prefer the comfort of the dark ages, I also think they can be trained and taught-so maybe a little proof on paper that a lot of that future negative outcome predicting is just, well, wrong, can help.

Also, I recently read that the part of your brain that is responsible for fear does double duty as the center for feelings of appreciation-and here’s the trick-it can’t do both at once. So maybe next time you find yourself thinking through some unlikely disaster try to refocus to something you feel grateful for. Aunt Linda’s apple pie instead of monsters in the closet.

Unless you’re in the mood for monsters, and then, run with it. And in some ways, which is scarier? The idea that there are monsters lurking, or the idea that the world is monster-free and that you are creating most of the monsters yourself?

Thanks for reading,

Alix Florio
Beautiful Fitness

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