Worrying about your child food allergies is exhausting, stressful, scary, ugh…need we go on? You know exactly what we’re talking about. Some worry is helpful in that it can spur you to find solutions and anticipate difficult situations for your family. Planning ahead to provide food on a family vacation or holiday is a great example of this. Sometimes worry isn’t helpful though. When your worrying starts to feel like your brain is on a giant hamster wheel going around and around and around, then probably the worry thoughts aren’t helping anymore. They might even be hurting by causing you to experience all the painful emotions of future negative events – that might not even happen.
In these moments, it can be helpful to become an observer of your thoughts. Imagine your thoughts as leaves floating past you in the stream or as boxes coming down a conveyor belt. Practice labeling these thoughts and identifying them as just ideas about the future. They are not actually happening right now. You may want to write down your thoughts as they occur and notice if there is any kind of pattern. Sometimes we have the same thought again and again because we are feeling so worried. You can use your senses to further step back from your thoughts and remind yourself What’s happening in the here and now. Smell your child’s hair, pet your dog’s fur, taste some fresh fruit or listen to some soothing music. Pick some beautiful flowers and really notice their aroma. Take a deep breath and experience your abdomen expand and then fall. Holding ice cubes in your hands will bring your attention to what is going Have you ever tried that? It might sound easy, but it will sure focus your brain on your physical experience in a hurry.
Pay attention to what is happening right now – the good and the not so good – because that is all you can really act on. Being caught in the trap of future worrying isn’t helping anyone and only exhausts your much-needed energy.