Fighting the worry habit

Ever since I had that messed up accident a thousand bloody years ago I’ve had anxiety. I think it’s as much a habit now as anything. My body just acts like something terrible is happening, no matter how untrue that is. Even taking a rest, my back tenses up as if I’m about to lift weights. If my hands aren’t active, I’ll pick and bite at my fingers until they bleed. And much as I try, I can’t stop gritting my teeth. Ever.

At one point I caused a huge lump to appear on my jaw from clenching my teeth and until recently I had pretty much constant pain in my back/shoulders except for when working (I actually avoided time off because I’d wind up in too much pain.)

However, I’m not writing this to complain, I promise, more to share two things that have helped me recently, and might also be an answer to stress for some others out there. I’m not totally fixed, but they’ve definitely helped.


The first is yoga, which I’ve tried many times before and never liked. I think the difference this time is:

  • doing it on my own so I’m not worrying about if I’m any good, instead just concentrating on my body and how it feels.
  • even doing yoga at home, I’d do it in a foolishly small space. Now I do it in a bigger room where I can actually spread out a bit (I do still end up hitting the sofa or kicking the wall quite often, but it’s a definite improvement.)
  • using videos of someone who doesn’t irritate me and deals specifically with the problems I have with my back. The videos are by Yogini Melbourne. She is soothing, detailed in what she says, and manages to give simple options for those of us who have a tendency to fall over. She also provides plenty of time to have a little rest, especially at the beginning of a video. When I don’t feel like doing anything active, I tell myself it’ll be an excuse to have a little lie down, which is a great incentive.


The other thing I’ve started doing is playing with worry beads and it stops me biting my fingers, which means I no longer get so tense. I started with a broken bracelet a few weeks ago, putting it back together as a string (the bottom one in the photo.) Then today I made the top two. With the middle one I went all out and added a spring and then some different sized cogs and nuts that I had, which makes it a bit like a baby’s rattle, a step up from worry beads. I figure the top and bottom beads are for general distraction, but the rattle is for more complex thought. Like Sherlock and his three-pipe problems, I sometimes have worry-rattle problems.

Now these are intense times, so I hope none of you are too stressed. But if you get anxious what are your ways of dealing with it?

47 thoughts on “Fighting the worry habit

  1. I had some worry beads from Crete, but it didn’t stop me biting my nails. What seems to have worked is (a) stopping full-time teaching, and (b) using a decent smartphone and having reasonable coverage! But I’m envious of your ability to practise yoga — I went to yoga and tai chi classes yonks ago when teaching, which I didn’t pursue for long; I thought during lockdown I’d do more piano but I’ve in fact played less than I’ve ever done before. ☹️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think there’s a lockdown malaise that’s hit many of us. I enjoyed the chance to slow down and think, but I definitely did more thinking than actual stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. From the things I’ve learned working through the Listening therapy protocols, trauma and anxiety put our autonomic system into fight and flight mode. It is an involuntary response. The only autonomic response that we can control is our breathing. My Listening Therapy consultant uses SSP ( ) with her clients and is pleased with the level of success. I have found that it’s made a dramatic change for the better with me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve not heard of SSP, thank you very much for telling me about it, I shall have a deeper look into it 🙂 Really glad to hear it’s helping with you!


      1. Each person’s challenges are different. That’s why I keep my war to the ground about noncoventional possibilities. There’s so much mystery about how the brain functions. It’s the snippets of success stories the I find helps unravel the ins and outs of his four brains (& bodies) do in the face of challenges and setbacks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It can be overwhelming trying to unravel all the possibilities, when there’s so much unknown.

        Sounds like you’ve got some people you can trust helping you, which is essential.


  3. For physical stress I lounge on the settee, watch crap TV that hasn’t got any violence in it, with a glass of something alcoholic and nibbling slowly on vegan snacks. On things that really worry me mentally, I use the method of Byron Katie’s writing it down as a statement and asking what I’ve written the 4 questions thing she calls “The Work”. I sometimes do that on less than stressful things to, like now asking the questions 1) “Is it true?” & 2) “Can I be sure it’s true?” to the statement that [ I need to stay in bed and sleep ]. The answers were 1) “Yes” & 2) “No” and so here I am on the laptop for a few minutes. Oh and as for giving up biting my nails, my journey was by painting my stubs pretty colours, reworking them and imagining them nice and healthy, as somehow they grew and I stopped chewing. I don’t use varnish now, only on art projects and sometimes I bite them if they get longish, but not chew like I did. Now for a glass of water, for maybe my body was telling me to hydrate when it woke me up, perhaps?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know Byron Katie, although writing out something if it’s worrying me is definitely helpful – a way of clarifying if there’s a problem at all. My biggest issue now is that I’m often not actually worrying about a specific thing at all, just my body freaking out!

      I love the painted nails thing, so colourful! They wouldn’t last five minutes in my job unfortunately. I do have some foul tasting handcream though, if I use that often enough, it might put me off nibbling!

      I’m glad you got that water 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Went to work after not sleeping, didn’t have breakfast or lunch, just some coffee, and was sooo very tired and hungry under the face mask and steamed up face shield, but thankfully had a Greggs vegan sausage roll at 3.30pm that tasted like heaven itself (just one of those days).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve found that the best way to get over negative emotions is to simply get the body or mind moving. That means exercise or thinking about something I can accomplish today. I find that staying idle makes things worse. Wishing you all the best with your own journey!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When I’ve been dealing with an emotional setback (which has been the past 7 days) I find it best to keep physically active. It is usually in the form of something repetitive, be it weeding the garden (seeing some positive results), picking a few rows of beans (to be dried and stored for the winter) or something else that is even mildly satisfying. By the way, the fatigue of the past 7 days is suddenly cleared up. Lots of initiative and energy to interact with my grand children or others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s great that you’re feeling a bit better, a dip feels awful. i definitely agree on the simple repetitive activity, something that doesn’t tax your mind, but does occupy it. You can feel good that even when feeling crappy you did something useful too.
        Thank you for sharing!


  5. I wrote a blog over the weekend on a similar theme which I have scheduled for Tuesday. I worry constantly, but I think that, probably, the current situation is starting to get us all down. I too have worry beads (although I am nothing like clever enough to make my own) but I am nothing like flexible enough for yoga. Running has become a bit of a focus for me and I also find the whole process of writing is my way of ‘taking the lid off’. Reading your blog never fails to make me smile and I am currently working on my Yoga Box invention being a flat-pack yoga friendly safe space in which you can downward dog to your heart’s content secure in the knowledge that nobody can see in and you are not going to be startled by next door’s cat. Take care

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Your yoga box could be a winner, i wonder if Dragon’s Den is still running. I like the videos where dogs try to join in with yoga. Cats would be more likely to point out that you’re not doing it properly, so yes, a box to hide from them would be good.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one using worry beads, i’d forgotten they even existing until
      I started fiddling with my broken bracelet.

      I’m looking forward to your scheduled worry blog (ooh! scheduling, get you!) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve learned that if I don’t schedule a post on an evening when I am busy, I forget to post. So it’s merely another feature of recognising my own limitations.
        My worry beads came free with a bottle of ouzo (I have no idea why). I have had them years. I will never be able to fly again if I lose them.
        As for the yoga box, we can share all the royalties as long as you will do the Dragon’s Den pitch!
        PS is downward cat a yoga thing?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sadly, there has not been any mention of cats on the videos. Although, I think I mentioned there are repeated opportunities to have a bit of a lie down – that’s like channeling a cat. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow. Sorry you’re so stressed. But since you asked how I’m dealing with it, here’s my answer: I’ve discovered my own, personal Bhodi tree right in my back yard. And, like siddhartha, I stare at it every morning while listening to Eckhart Tolle. If fact–coincidentally enough, I posted a picture of Cat and Tree at the bottom of my latest post. (You’d actually have to read that far to see it…) But yeah, these are stressful times. So I’ve shut off the T.V. (no talking heads spinning my reality please, and no bad news…) and have taken to meditating in front of a tree, watching the birds flutter. It’s a wonderful way to start the day.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a great routine! I’d not heard of Tolle, but i will do a little investigating now to see if I can become enlightened. I did see your picture, I hope your cat joins you when meditating, although that might scare away the birds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honey! Don’t give out your address to weirdos on the Internet! I might turn up! With a Triffid! And ask to move in! (I would bring you a set of worry beads though 🙂 )

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad you found a way to cope. Before Covid-19, I went to a Spa for a facial or massage. Both felt great and I was treated like a movie star. The massage was a good thing for tense upper shoulder muscles. They just reopened a couple of weeks ago, but I don’t plan on returning any time soon. I walk my stress out while working now, averaging 6 to 8 miles a day. Walking is a lot cheaper than a Spa.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Walking is ace! I’d happily walk every day for hours when I was younger and I’d still rather walk than take the bus. It’s a great time to let my imagination fly. I’ve never been to a spa, but I love the idea of a movie star Darnell! I hope you wore dark glasses the whole time and sipped on a cocktail! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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