Worrying about work is draining and ultimately pointless, since worrying about anything doesn’t actually solve the problem, but just leads you down a spiral of more and more worry.
If your Sunday nights have started to give you night terrors, it’s time to take action.
As someone who’s woken up in a state of panic shivering and soaked n sweat due to work worry, I know firsthand the importance of taking action to find and resolve these issues. And while makes me cringe to share this with you, I need to you understand how important it is to take action now.
Here are 7 steps you can take to banish the work worry and reclaim your Sunday nights.
1. Identify the source of the worry
When my night sweats started, I had no idea it was work-related. Honestly, I ignored it for months and at one point I went to the doctors assuming I had some kind of physiological health issue. But I didn’t.
When you worry about something, even though on the surface of it you might not feel like there’s something specific, and you might think it’s just the job in general, often there are one or more specific underlying concerns that are causing you to worry.
It could be that you’re struggling with a project, struggling to get on with a coworker, or that you’re going through some kind of major change at work or in your life in general, and deep down this is what’s actually worrying you. But sometimes, especially when it feels like everything’s going wrong, we don’t take time to reflect and uncover what the true issues are, leaving you feeling worried and anxious about everything.
Before you can stop worrying about work, you need to take some time to reflect on what’s happening for you at work so that you can identify the specific things that are causing you to worry. By doing this, you’ll be in a position to start doing something about it. You can’t tackle general issues or feelings of worry.
2. Write down all the things you’re worried about
You can’t underestimate the power of writing things down. Once you’ve identified some of the things that are at the source of you worrying about work then take it a step further and write them all down.
Doing this takes them out of your head and out into the open, down on paper. If you’re lucky you might even find that just the simple act of writing some of the items down makes them seem less worrying than you initially thought or felt.
When you write about your work worry it’s important to be really specific with what you write. Rather than writing that you have a problem with a colleague, instead, detail exactly what the specific problems are, when it all started, how it started and why it concerns you. Breaking it down like this will make it easier when it comes to action planning in the next step, but it can also be extremely cathartic.
3. Create an action plan
Once you’ve taken the time to get clear on what’s worrying about work and you’ve written it all down. You can create an action plan of how you’re going to tackle each thing one step at a time.
If you don’t know how to tackle the problem, don’t fret, you can start off by just writing down the diffident ideas you have of how you COULD tackle the issue. Write down anything you can think of, however outlandish or ridiculous it might seem. Even if you know it’s something you’d probably never do.
This is important because by not censoring yourself, your ideas will be more free-flowing and you just never know, the perfect solution might just come out, and surprise you.
Once you’ve taken the time to list every possible plan of attack then you can go through and pick one or two for each worry that you feel comfortable doing.
We don’t always worry about real-life events that have happened. Sometimes our source of worry is actually a fear of something we think might happen. Like your partner leaving you or getting fired from your job.
If this is the case, your action plan might also include how you would cope and what you would do if the thing you’re worried about were to actually happen.
Again, being as detailed as possible is valuable, what steps would you take to come back from the situation, who could help you or support you in this instance and what else would you need to consider?
For example, if you’re worried about losing your job, you could make a plan that includes brushing up on your skills, updating your CV, and starting a saving plan so you have backup funds in case you were to lose your job.
By doing this, you’ll see that if the worst does happen, and your deepest fear is realized, you’ll be able to get through it and make it to the other side. Knowing that you’ll be ok and exactly how goes a long way toward stopping the worry.
4. Talk to someone
Sometimes we suffer in silence. Maybe it’s because you don’t want to cause anyone else to stress or bog them down with your problems, or maybe you think you’ll appear weak or people will think you can’t cope. Either way, there are lots of reasons to talk about your problems. And sharing is just as important when it comes to worrying about work as it is with other problems.
Make sure you select people you can trust, a colleague you’re close to, a close friend, or a family member.
While you might worry that a colleague is too close to the problem and you might feel that family and friends won’t be able to help since they’re far removed and may not even understand, just by talking about it, you’ll find that you feel a little better. They don’t say a problem shared is a problem halved for nothing.
The truth is that there’s very little that’s new under the sun and when we go through difficult things even though we might feel like we’re isolated and that no one else has been through it before or would understand when you finally speak to someone you might be surprised to find out that they’ve gone through a similar thing. They might even be going through it at exactly the same time.
Keeping quiet about things is what keeps you isolated and feeling so alone. Give your friends the opportunity to help you. You’d only do the same for them.
Talking to someone, of course, could also mean talking to your boss about the situation or confronting the situation head o and speaking to your coworker. It could also mean talking to a professional. Doing this will put you back in the driving seat and put you on the part to a resolution.
5. Set a time for worry
Ok, so this might sound a little strange, and it’s not for everyone. But, if you feel like worrying about work is taking you over then it might help to make time for it.
Rather than spending all your time worrying about work while trying desperately not to worry about work, set aside time for worry. A set time where you will allow yourself to sit with the worry, and think about it, but only for that time. With the view that the worry will be confined to this time period.
Setting aside time to worry can be very effective in reducing the worry during the rest of your day or night. During this set time, you can write down anything that comes to mind, whether it’s something you’ve already written down before or a new thing.
The important part of this practice is making sure that firstly you stick to the time you’ve allotted, and secondly, that you make the decision that you will not worry outside of this time. Of course, it’s not going to be easy from the start, but with some practice, you’ll soon get used to it. Knowing that you have a specific time coming up later in the day or in the following day where you can think about the worry again may help you to keep the worry at bay.
Alternatively, you can set aside time to NOT worry. If the worry is taking you over, give yourself some time in the day where you’ll be truly focused and absorbed in something else, a time when you won’t allow yourself to worry.
6. Get a workout
“Motion drives emotion” – Tony Robins.
The beauty of this quote is that it’s oh so true. Have you ever felt angry, sad, frustrated then gone for a run, had a workout or had a dance.
In fact, a few months ago we put a radio in the bathroom and it’s had a major positive impact on my life. Why? Because when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling grouchy or not my best, one of the things I now do is have a dance in the bathroom. Seriously, I go for it. And guess what, I always leave feeling so much better. It even has been laughing out loud sometimes.
Now that might sound a little OTT for some, but hey, it works. Having a workout has the same effect. You will feel so much better when you get into motion, whatever that means for you.
7. Avoid caffeine
If you’re someone who’s prone to worry or anxiety, then this one is a must, and definitely before bed.
The effects of caffeine can include sleep problems, anxiety, or irritation. If you’re seriously worried then chances are you’re already feeling some of these things, so the last thing you want to do is make them worse.
Bringing it all together
Next time you find yourself lying in bed worrying about work, decide to take matters into your own hands and take one or more of these actions instead.