We have all heard of ‘Fasting’ as a way to restrict food consumption, usually this is to honor an aspect of spirituality or culture. The word ‘fasting’ may have negative connotations to some, and that is understandable. However, today I would like to create a positive connection to this word as we engage in a simple but highly effective practice called “worry fasting.”
Worry is an aspect of anxiety that our brain uses as an attempt to keep us safe. We may feel that if we are not worried about all of the potential negative outcomes, then we are not prepared should they arise. The truth is that worrying does not keep us safe. In fact, it tricks us into believing that there are many things wrong, which causes us to remain hyper vigilant and leaves our nervous system in a heightened state of arousal. Worrying doesn’t change the outcome, and it doesn’t protect us.
What we need in order to truly feel safe, protected, and prepared is a calm and centered mind that is rooted in the present moment. Worrying will chronically remove us from presence, and insist that we live in the future, “just in case” something goes wrong. Mindfulness assures us that our response to life’s circumstances and outcomes is our choice, and we can choose to feel calm, safe, and open to the flow of life in the here and now.
So how do we stop the constant pattern of worrying from playing out in our lives?The answer is to Worry Fast.
As you begin your worry fast, set a clearly structured time that your fast will last. I recommend starting small with 1 hour of worry fasting. As you develop this practice and build new patterns, you will be able to carry on your worry fast for days, weeks, and months! Start small, and commit to releasing any and all worries for that hour. Anytime an anxious thought or worry arises, recognize and acknowledge it. Then, tell yourself, “No matter what worries come into my mind, I choose not to indulge in them. I choose to rest in safety, calm, and ease in the present moment. I choose to let go of all worries now.”
At the end of your first worry fast, congratulate yourself and notice how releasing your anxieties and worries feels. Celebrate your progress and know that you are healing from chronic worry. Repeat this daily, and continue to increase the length of time your worry fast continues.
Share this simple practice with friends and loved ones who could use it!