Escape from the Worry Trap
Worry Is Healthy continued...
As psychologist Gary Emery, Ph.D., director of the Los Angeles Center for
Cognitive Therapy, puts it, worry is often about "trying to solve something
that's not solvable at the moment. It gives people the illusion that they're
doing something. But as the old Italian proverb says, 'A cartload of worry
won't pay an ounce of debt.'"
Not only can worry leave us spinning our wheels, it also can depress us,
poison our relationships and sap us of energy and the joy of living as we
wrestle with relentless "what ifs."
Carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders can also make us
physically sick, with ailments such as back pain, digestive disorders, rashes
and recurring headaches. Research from the University of Kentucky in Lexington
suggests that frequent fretting may even weaken the immune system.
"Chronic, persistent worry is just as dangerous for your health as high
blood pressure," says Dr. Hallowell. "It's bad for virtually every
system of the body."
But the good news, he adds, is that worry is definitely controllable. Ready
to tame it? Try these techniques from the experts.
Worry as Vigilance
Some people view worry as a form of vigilance, reasoning, for example, that
if they dwell on the likelihood of their wallet being stolen during a vacation,
the theft won't occur.
"Some people feel they can make a deal with fate," says Dr.
Hallowell. "If they suffer enough, the worry will prevent the negative
outcome. But if you don't tie worry to action, it doesn't do a thing except
make you sick."
Sort your concerns into those you can influence and those you can't, and
focus your energy on the former. Jot down a list of possible solutions, sift
through them and work toward implementing the best options.
Abolish Your Anxiety
"Take a good guess at what the best course of action is, knowing all along
that you might make a mistake," advises clinical psychologist Paul A.
Hauck, Ph.D., author of Overcoming Worry and Fear.
"And consider, would it be really terrible if you made a mistake? In
most cases the world won't end if you do."