Dont Be a Worry Wort!

Everyone worries. As bothersome as it is, worry isn't all bad, and can actually work for you. Worry can give you a jolt of energy, spark your creative thinking, and help you to meet deadlines. The trick is to keep worry under control and these tips will help you do that.

1. Identify the source. Though it can take days, weeks, or even months, identifying the source of your worry is time well spent. You may feel anxious all the time, for example, constantly looking over your shoulder, and thinking something awful is about to happen. Once you'e identified these feelings as anticipatory grief you can do something about them.

2. See the big picture. Or as author Richard Carlson, PhD puts it, "Don't sweat the small stuff . . . and it's all small stuff." Carlson says we let ourselves get "worked up over things that, upon closer examination, aren't really that big a deal." Getting a flat tire on the way to work is nothing compared to chronic disease, famine, or terrorirm. Sometimes it's hard to see the big picture, so you may have to consciously de-clutter your mind to bring it into focus.

3. Catch the laughs. According to a University of Maryland Medical Center study, humor is good medicine. Michael Miller, MD, Director for the Center for Prventive Cardiology at the Center, says regular exercise and healthy eating can reduce the risk of heart disease, adding, "Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list." Miller thinks we should incorporate laughter into our daily lives by reading funny stuff, watching funny videos, and not taking ourselves so seriously.

4. Start a solutions list. Keep your list on a computer or on a notepad. Every time you think of a solution jot it down. Maintain your list for a week and put it away for a few days. Then take it out, pick the best solution, and start working on it. The solution may not produce dramatic results, but you've taken a proactive step and are moving forward with life.

5. Take care of yourself. Poor eating hbits and lack of sleep can make worry worse. So eat a balanced diet and try to get eight hours of sleep a night. If you haven't had a physical exam in a while this may be the time to get one. And even though you're worried, make time for your friends and social activities.

6. Get moving. Mayo Clinic psychologist Kristen Vickers-Douglas, PhD, in an article on www.MayoClinic.com, says there's "substantial evidence that exercise can enhance mood." You don't have to run a marathon or lift weights to boost your spirits, a daily walk will do it. Others find spritual comfort in meditation.

7. Appreciate nauture. Life is more beautiful when you take the time to appreciate birds and flowers and trees. Recognizing this fact, five Wisconsin towns got together and crafted the "Leaf Your Worries Behind" tourism campign, a "relaxing autumn getaway in the Northwoods." No matter where you live, take the time to appreciate nature.

8. Watch fewer newscasts. In the era of 24-hour television newscasts the same stories are aired again and again. Often these newscasts contain horrific images, images that are stored in your mind. For peace of mind you may wish to watch one newscast and skip the rest.

9. Get help if you need it. According to "Treatment of Specific Anxiety-Based problems," a chapter posted on the Psychological Self-Help Website, chronic worriers fret for several hours a day. What a waste! If you're a chronic worrier you may want to take a stress management course or talk with a trained counselor.

10. Credit yourself. You've taken steps to keep worry under control and that's a huge accomplishment. Applaud yourslf, cheer, or dance around the kitchen. Instead of being a worry wort you're making worry work for you. Good job!

Harriet Hodgson has been a nonfiction writer for 27 years and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Her latest book, Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http;//http://www.amazon.com

Copyright 2005 by Harriet Hodgson. To learn more about her work go to http://www.harriethodgson.com.

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