How to Control Worry

Tempers are rising as we prepare for our months-long travels to Canada. We are counting down the days now till we leave on our big trip across the U.S. and Canada for Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and all points in between.

Living in an RV is the easy part.  It’s when you’ve decided to have some serious adventures, it gets a little more exciting.  I woke up one morning and told Stephen I had a middle of the night panic attack about what could go wrong with the coach on our extended trip and what it might cost. After I had shared my fears, Stephen realized he’s been having unexpressed stress, and it may be affecting how he’s relating to me.

It was good to get these concerns out in the open and face the dark side of adventure. We’re usually excited about what we’re going to see and experience, and our heads are filled with romantic notions of travel. But every once in a while, it’s good to look into the abyss as well and know what kinds of difficulties could arise and if we’re ready to roll with them or at least get through them without killing each other!

So, now that our worries have raised their ugly heads, what to do?

Here’s a link to some very insightful advice and an excerpt on how to handle worry.

Create a Worry Period

“Telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work—at least not for long. You can distract yourself for a moment, but you can’t banish anxious thoughts for good. In fact, trying to do so often makes them stronger and more persistent.  You can test this out for yourself. Close your eyes and picture a pink elephant. Once you can see it in your mind, stop thinking about it. Whatever you do, for the next 60 seconds, don’t think about pink elephants!  How did you do? Did thoughts of pink elephants keep popping in your brain?”  Try this:

1. Create a “worry period” Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (e.g. in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.

2. Postpone your worry. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day, make a brief note of it and then continue about your day. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now.

3. Go over your “worry list” during the worry period. If the thoughts you wrote down are still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about them, but only for the amount of time you’ve specified for your worry period. If they don’t seem important any more, cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.

Our pink elephant is this:  We don’t have much of a financial safety net, so there’s a bit of foolhardiness in our casting our fates to the wind. I asked Stephen today as we were getting the coach serviced for the trip with an oil change ($500). What is the meaning of foolhardy? He said a combination of foolish and enthusiastic. I just looked it up, and Webster says:

Foolhardy is a combination of the noun fool and the adjective hardy, meaning “brave” or “bold.”

Put them together, and you’ve got “foolishly brave.” Someone who is foolhardy throws caution to the wind and takes reckless chances. A foolhardy mistake is typically the result of this kind of impulsive behavior. But foolhardy doesn’t always imply foolishness or stupidity; foolhardy can convey courage and romance, as in the case of a foolhardy passion or desire.  I love this image from the tarot deck of the fool card.  Fits me to a tee.

Here’s the thing. We are 70 and 72 and long ago decided that we’ll live our lives by two guiding forces. Creativity and adventure. So, how can we be anything but foolhardy if those are our two guiding passions?

It was good to take a deep breath and reflect on all the possible predicaments that could befall us. If you are an RVer, you know what I mean. Blowouts, breakdowns, bad weather, etc., etc. They are things you certainly don’t want to think about when you’re planning your great adventure!

But after all, the very meaning of the word adventure implies difficulties. Conferring with Webster again, I find another way of thinking about adventure:

“An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”

In my very first post to this blog, I said, “we will get through this together.” I went back and read it to remind me to take a deep breath. Here’s the link to that post.

What motivates you to face your worries about the unknowns inherent in living in an RV?  I’d like to hear.  If you like what I’m offering on my blog, please subscribe and take the trip along with us!