January, 2017 Newsletter



Are Your Worries Piling Up? . . . Maybe You're Adding More by Mishandling Them . . .


It’s NOT What You Do, It’s the Way That You Do It

Worrying may have a bad reputation, but if it’s done well it can actually be helpful.

              Effective worrying can anticipate problems, devise artful solutions and expand creative possibilities. On the other hand, ineffective worrying is what keeps us awake at night, distracts us during the day and gives our physical systems a workout they don’t need. According to Dr. Edward Hollowell, of the Harvard Medical School, worry is nature’s way of helping us anticipate—and avoid— danger. Good worry leads to constructive action.

            When you find yourself in bed at night, tossing and turning, plowing the same field again and again, you’re in the midst of worry of the worst kind: self-perpetuating. The more you worry, the more stress chemicals feed back to the brain, telling it to worry more.

When you’re mired in this worry bog, the best thing to do is to get physical. Get up, move around.  Action will temporarily relieve the worrying.  Who knows, when you come back to the problem, you may have a better perspective on it.

            Take a walk, work out, go for a bike ride or dancing can help relieve worry. Exercise increases blood flow, providing more oxygen to the brain. Exercising regularly means you will probably worry less.

            Write down your worries in a journal.  Simply writing your fears and concerns down takes some of the power out of them and gives you a sense of control. Writing your worries also gives you an opportunity to write possible solutions. Try this: write down the worry and, without thought as to how workable or realistic the solutions are, write them down as fast as they come to mind. Don’t stop to think, just write idea after idea. Given this creative outlet, the same brain that was nagging you with worries, can offer ingenious and often elegant solutions.

Another way to put your worries to work for you: tell a friend.  Ask for feedback, another perspective. Or someone to simply listen. Giving voice to your worries can take some of the wind out of their bedraggled sails.

             Oprah Winfrey isn’t the only one to recommend gratitude lists. A gratitude list doesn’t have to be long or well thought out. 

            In your journal or on a sheet of paper, jot down several things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big deals — the way the sun falls on the roses in the morning is just fine, if that’s what you thought of. 

Turn your worry into action by getting outside yourself. Whether you find community through family, work, friends, church, neighborhood projects, groups or organizations, being a part of something bigger than yourself can give you a sense of safety and connectedness. Turning the focus from inside to out means there’s no place for worry to abide.

It certainly not as simple as that song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” makes it sound, but somewhere underneath its whining, nagging voice, worry might have something important to tell you.

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