(eBook) Psychology - How to Stop Worrying

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  Mental Health Promotion Series HOW TO ... stop worrying  “I think of myself as a born worrier. I’ve always worried, eversince I was little. I’d worry about what people at school thoughtabout me and about homework and all sorts of things.”“I worry so much that for my last birthday a friend bought me aplaque with the slogan ‘Worrying is like riding a rocking horse –it doesn’t get you anywhere’.”“As a child, every night when I went to bed I would worryabout members of my family dying. I am not religious but Iended up saying a prayer each night that was basically a list of myworries,which I asked God to take care of. This helped me to goto sleep.As I grew up the list of worries became so long that Iused to worry about going to bed. The ‘prayer’took so longand there was so much to remember. In the end it was a worryoff my mind when I stopped saying the prayer.” Almost everybody worries. A certain amount of worryingis a healthy response to life. It can prevent us from beingreckless, or stimulate us to do our best or to take controlof a situation. But some people worry a lot more than othersand sometimes to the point where worrying becomes aproblem in itself. This booklet explains the problem andits effects, suggests ways of tackling it and how to findmore help. 2 HOW TO... stop worrying “”  ? Mental Health Promotion 3 What is worrying? Worrying means spending a lot of time thinking about badthings –being preoccupied with negative possibilities. The moreyou worry the larger your worries become. You may even findyourself worrying about all the time you have spent worrying.There are many different types of worries; they include worriesabout things that might happen in the future, worrying aboutthings that are actually taking place, and retrospective worryabout events that have already passed. Worries about what might happen These worries include concerns about things that could possiblyhappen, and things that very probably won’t happen. For example,despite the fact that it is statistically unlikely, you may worryabout whether you will have a car accident, or catch a fatal disease.Worries about what might happen in situations over which youhave some control can also be very troubling. You might be veryworried that you’re going to fail an exam or not meet a deadlinebecause of not putting in enough work. If you were able tostop worrying and do some work, the outcome might be better. Worries about things that are happening Again, these can include feelings of anxiety both about situationsthat you can change, and those you are powerless to change.Examples of the latter would be worrying about the fact thatyou are caught in traffic, or that your train has been delayed.An example of the former would be worrying about a persistentcough; if you go to the doctor your mind could be put at rest,or you could get treatment; both are better than worrying. Worries about things that have happened There is often nothing that can be done about these worries.An example of this would be worrying about whether you havefailed an exam, or made a mistake at work.  HOW TO ... stop worrying 4 ?? Why do we worry? “I think my worrying has a lot to do with my lack of self-confidence.Although it’s hard to admit, it’s often easier for me to worryabout something than to do something about it. Over the yearsI’ve learnt that the less time I give myself to worry, and thequicker I act, the better. I may feel ill before I make that phonecall and shake a bit afterwards but when it’s over I feel so muchbetter, having blasted a worry –however small –into oblivion.”Worries are basically fears. Everyone gets scared, but we allhandle fear in different ways. Sometimes it is easier to dwell on a fear than to do something about it, or to accept that there isnothing to be done. This may be because of a lack of confidence–we may not believe we are capable of taking action or handlinga bad situation. (If this seems to be the case for you, you mightfind Mind’s booklet How to Assert Yourself  useful; for detailssee Further Reading on p.14.) What effects can worry have? Physical effects Our bodies react chemically to the fear that worrying entails.When we are scared our bodies release adrenalin in what is calleda ‘fight or flight’reflex that evolved to enable us to counter orto escape threats. This adrenalin affects the digestive system,and can make you feel ill. The more you worry the worse it gets,and a real ‘rush’of adrenalin can lead to ‘butterflies in thestomach’, a headache, or feeling very sick and unable to eat. Psychological effects Worrying can make it very difficult to go to sleep, as worriesoften come on at their strongest at night. When you’re tryingto go to sleep there’s nothing to distract you from the worriesthat may have been lurking in the background. It is then veryeasy to start feeling anxious about the sleep you are missing
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