For most of us, worry is at least an occasional visitor. Like anxiety, it is manageable in smaller amounts, but in larger doses can become crippling. In particular, worry about health or finances (or the recent presidential election) has spoiled many a night’s sleep. Waiting for the results of a medical test can almost seem worse, emotionally, than actually having the disorder you’re being tested for.
Though scientists don’t fully understand how, worry can make you sick. Most immediately, it can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Persistent, uncontrollable worrying can spill over into mental and possibly even chronic physical illness. If you or someone in your family is disabled by worry, or is always depressed and anxious about the future, it’s wise to seek professional help. Counseling and, in some cases, medication can be useful.
Some worry-reducing strategies
- Odd as it sounds, it may help to schedule a worry period. Initially, give your worries 15 to 30 minutes every morning or afternoon; try to come up with at least one constructive solution, and then move on. If your worries pop up later, try to focus on something else.
- Try to distract yourself. Go out for a meal and a movie. Exercise can be particularly helpful. Get away for the weekend, if possible.
- Learn some meditative skills. Listen to music, if that helps you. Take up some activity that calms you, whether it’s knitting, cycling, or deep breathing.
- Worry can keep you from thinking clearly. Ask yourself what purpose your worrying serves. Taking action to solve a problem is often an antidote for worry.
Also see How to Get Mental Health Help.