Worrying is one of the worst things you can do for your health, and one of the easiest ways to ruin it. Worry will run down your nervous system and can cause indigestion, insomnia, ulcers and even heart problems. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Worried sick?” Mental stress from worrying can have negative effects on your physical body if it gets out of control.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the constricting forces of worry that make us feel trapped, nervous and that make it nearly intolerable to live in our own skin. If not, count yourself as lucky because that is an all too persistent reality for some people.
The funny thing about human beings, as advanced as we think we are, is that we cannot simultaneously hold two trains of thought at once nor can we focus on two separate emotions simultaneously. Try thinking of an airplane and all of its details while simultaneously listing all the things you have to do tomorrow. Couldn’t do it, right?
It’s impossible to give each object the same amount of focus and attention just as it is impossible to be both worried and happy at the same time. One thought or emotion will either eliminate or overpower the other, and that is exactly what we are attempting to do with the Virtue of Industry and worry.
When you’re busy and your interest is invested in your work there is no time to worry and mull over your troubles. You have things to do, people to see, there’s no time dig yourself into a mental hole of worry. Even better, if you are actively working on solving the problems that are the source of your worry, you will immediately feel stress relief and even more so when you have solved the problem.
This is why I love exercise as a way to lessen stress and worry. You cannot think of your problems while holding a barbell loaded with heavy weight over your head. The activity demands your full attention, and when your attention is on the exercise, the other part of your brain that deals with the problems gets to rest and recover so that it can come back to work refreshed.
Once you are done with your workout, you did something hard and you’re full of endorphins, taking on other challenges doesn’t seem as daunting. Voluntarily doing hard shit makes those other hard things you have to do out of necessity seem a little bit easier and you’ve already built a bit of momentum, proving to yourself that you can get hard shit done.
There’s no time for worry when you’re busy. It’s when you’re being lazy and lethargic that worry creeps into your mind. A good rule of thumb is: if something is causing you worry, get to work on it right away. Keeping yourself busy when something is causing you worry is a good thing, but not when you’re using your busywork to avoid confronting the responsibility you have. If that is the case, when your busywork is done, you will end up back where you started, at square one.
Keeping yourself busy is a great way to avoid plummeting into a pit of worry and self-pity. There are plenty of stories out there of highly successful people who suffered terrible tragedies, unfortunate upbringings, all sorts of unlucky events, who instead of using their time to worry about what would happen, or play the victim, got to work and left worry in the dust of their success.
“The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.” – George Bernard Shaw
Staying busy is a good way to get a proper night’s sleep. If you worked hard during the day, it would be difficult to stay up late tossing and turning with your troubles. The exhaustion from a good day’s work works better than melatonin. We’re human. Our bodies are meant to work, our minds are meant to solve problems, so use them in that way.
Have you ever noticed how an old person seems to get so much older when they retire? They start to complain about things that never bothered them before, they start to worry about things that they hadn’t considered before when they were working, and their bodies seem to just give up. It was as if their work had kept them young and prevented them from worrying about petty things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
However, there are the people who retire and stay sharp keeping themselves busy with hobbies and by helping out their families. When you have nothing to do your mind will create problems because it wants to be put to work, so give it constructive problems to solve.
If you find yourself worried, use the Virtue of Industry as your cure. Stay busy, my friends.