Worry: Is It Worthwhile Work or a Waste of Time?
As tools for change are discussed, one tool - that you might not have thought of - attains a unique status. That tool is WORRYING. Yes, worrying. Most of us wish we worried less. But worrying might be a good thing, not necessarily bad. It's a brain mechanism that weighs alternatives. Even though by definition worry is one of the processes that weighs possible outcomes and consequences (usually with emphasis on the negative), nevertheless it's a decision making tool.
Since worry forces us to evaluate various alternatives, courses of action or ways of thinking, it can be approached in such a way that it can assist us in focusing on the possible positive outcomes of a situation, as well.The drawback, of course, is that we've been conditioned all our lives to think of worry as a stress-producing negative event or process. Just look at the contrast in the song title "Don't Worry, Be Happy." It's as though the very act of worrying destroys any chance of contentment, happiness or joy.
But here's the good news. Looked at from another perspective, we could say that worry is nature's way of helping us anticipate - and avoid - danger. So - what's the answer? Is worry good or bad?
That depends. Worry can be GOOD if it's the right KIND of worry.
Good worry is: an exercise in constantly looking for and anticipating possible problems, thus enabling us to take quick action to minimize the problem or eliminate it before it happens. And in the event it happens anyway, the right kind of worry can give us ready-made solutions that can be implemented quickly. More about this in a moment.
The other kind of worry is TOXIC worry. This is not good. Toxic worry produces negative feelings like vulnerability and powerlessness. These feelings tend to immobilize us. Or it's ruminative...worry that keeps on going in circles, over and over the same problem ground, producing only frustration without any forward progress or toward actions to solve the source or cause of the worry.
By the way, those negative feelings - vulnerability and powerlessness - generally come up almost simultaneously in the course of the session of toxic worry, and they set up a uniquely circular mental action. The less powerful you feel, the more vulnerable you become. The more vulnerable you are, the more powerless you feel.
No doubt, you're going to worry. The trick is to worry WELL. Here's how, according to Dr. Ed Hallowell of Harvard University Medical School.First let's suggest what you might do once the worrying has started...after you "catch yourself" worrying.
One: change your physical state. Get up from your desk and take a walk, exercise, create a distraction that is ACTIVE and involves your body and your mind. This will give you not only instant relief from the worry, but the physical action will change your body's chemistry so that when you return to your worrying you'll have a different perspective on the problem.My daughter, a massage therapist, has a wonderful solution. She gets a massage. The combination of the gentle quiet of the massage room and the comforting value of physical touching seem to relax and refresh her, and she tells me that enormous problems are often reduced to minor inconveniences when she distracts her thoughts by emptying her brain for a while. My other daughter uses meditation, and that works, too. She simply stops thinking for a while. I'm sure that most of you can do this, too. Check it out.
Two: don't worry alone. Get a "reality check" from a friend, mate, co-worker or confidant. This can help reestablish your optimism because your friends will assure you that it'll all work out OK. Many people I know find this the easiest way to break the worry cycle. If you find yourself in a worrying situation when you can't talk with others, even on the phone, get a pencil and paper and write about your worry. This will move the problem outside of your head. You may find it easier to deal with this way.Three: Look for thought patterns and take actions to change those patterns. What tends to trigger worry for you? Usually it's a life situation like financial insecurity, self-worth questions...subjects that might be easier to handle if you consulted an expert. Once a pattern emerges, you may be able to see what needs to be worked on. Now you can PLAN ways to break the pattern when it arises.
Take one little step at a time, and eventually you'll turn toxic worry into productive worry.
Now let's turn to ways to prevent worry. Here are four useful strategies.First, look at how you express yourself internally as you worry. Is your language negative? Probably! See if you can consciously focus on your internal language and get rid of the negative terminology. Mechanically, you have to stop the negative thought stream, so say "Stop" - even out loud, if you're alone. "Stop the negativity" is a short sentence you can use. Then rephrase your worry as a problem that has a solution. Are you worried about a presentation you have to do tomorrow? Say to yourself, "Sure I'm concerned, I ought to be. But I'll do fine. All I have to do is..." then list in your mind the actions you can take that will increase your confidence, minimize the risk of mistakes, and so forth.
Next, stay active. All the time. Set up a regular schedule of exercise. Might be walking, bike riding, gym workout, handball...whatever. Just get a routine going. You'll find that you're not worrying as much. Believe it or not, physical activity actually changes brain chemistry. Mood-altering chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are processed more easily, producing a generally more elevated baseline mood. The net result is that positive thought is accessed more easily and negative thought is less likely to occur and easier to extinguish if it does show up.
Earlier I mentioned meditation as a way to stop worry after it's started. It also works as a preventive measure. Prayer works, too, if you are religiously inclined. A regular routine of introspection and mental/emotional clearing is a great worry preventer. Like exercise, meditation and prayer can have remarkable effects on brain chemistry.Finally, get yourself a support group...not specifically for worry, but simply to have a source of input for times when worry might come up. Often by talking about it in advance, your support group can help you avoid the incidence of worry. You can, in effect, head it off at the pass and get some valuable positive input at the same time. Don't overlook this simple tool that will also work for you when worry sneaks up on you and occupies your mind in spite of your best efforts. Taking your concerns to the group will get you enormously valuable support.
Copyright 2002, 2005 Optimum Performance Associates/Paul McNeese.
Paul McNeese is CEO of Optimum Performance Associates, a consulting firm specializing in transitional and transformational change for individuals and institutions through publication. His publishing company, OPA Publishing, is an advocacy for self-publishing authors of informational, instructional, inspirational and insightful nonfiction.
Through Stress Comes Kindness
In these times when companies are constantly down-sizing and right-sizing there is always a lot of stress. The stress comes first from the rumors that it may happen, then the actual doomsday when it happens, and then the aftermath of finding out how the company is going to operate. But there is one other thing that happens through all of this too? Kindness!
A 2-Minute Stress Buster
Meditation seems to have arrived in the mainstream of late, and for good reasons. As reported in a 2004 issue of Time Magazine -- brain imaging shows that meditation actually shifts your brain's activity from the right side of your brain, over to the left side.
Living on the Edge: Stressed Out and Nowhere to Go
Is your stress level higher than it should be? Are you struggling with changes in life that you neither anticipated nor caused? If so, keep reading! Most of us carry far more stress than did our parents and grandparents. Life seems more complicated than ever. Nothing is certain, reality is artificially produced, and fantasy is real. No wonder we're confused!
Reduce Stress To Maximize Efficiency
The right amount of stress can be good for you, such as when an impending deadline pushes you to work faster. Too much stress, however, becomes conterproductive because you start to make mistakes, become confused and muddled, or lose concentration.
Stress Management: 9 Universal Laws for Problem Solving
1. The Law of Gifts
Stress: Daily Self-Care Habits to Manage Stress
Today we have more stress in our lives than ever before ? good stress, bad stress, red stress, blue stress (my little ode to Dr. Seuss). No matter what kind of stress it is, a real crisis or an imagined one, stress is incredibly harmful to our body, mind and soul.
Panic Is No Laughing Matter
Burt Reynolds revealed his vulnerable side when he realized he was being steered into marriage. One day while browsing the furniture department with his would-be bride, he suddenly collapsed onto a bed and doubled into the protective fetal form. Moments later, he was sucking oxygen through a brown paper bag, his eyes wide and darting.
Slow Down, You Move Too Fast
"Slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the [moment] last!"
How Are You Achieving Rejuvenation for Peak Performance?
When was the last time that you truly took a mental break from work? Many of us in North America are now getting out our calendars to gear up for summer vacations, so it's timely to discuss how we use our "downtime" to enhance our ability to excel in our businesses and our workplaces.
20 Ways to Shift Worry Into Attractive Energy
Worry, big or small blocks positive vibrations from entering your realm. The longer the behavior, the deeper the roots, the harder to override. Staying in its merry-go-round places the person in a form of trance. And like all trances, the person in the trance isn't aware that they are there. If told they are in a trance, they would simply deny it.
Stress Management--Getting the Better of the Daily Grind
There are many kinds of daily grinds. In the U.S. Corporate world today, to be busy working 12-16 hours a day is a sign of importance and ambition. The more time you spend at your job, the more you are envied-the harder you work, the higher you rise up the corporate ladder.
Why Stress Management Programmes Don?t Work
Why Stress Management programmes don't work?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Do You Worry All The Time?
Do you worry all the time?
Stress Management: How to Use the Power of Focus
Here's a fun little experiment:
Army Ranger Reveals How to Control Corporate Stress
"Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one." Hans Selye - the "father of stress" and founder of the Canadian Institute of Stress.
Stress Management and Mastery: 5 Tips for Positive Anger Management
A grandfather, whose grandson came to him angry at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice, said,
Empowerment for Highly Sensitive People: Part 1
Are you a person who has a keen imagination, a deep inner life, and vivid colorful dreams? Do you need time alone on a regular basis? Do people who know you say you are "too sensitive"?
Stress - A Modern Cause of Disease
Every day we are faced with a situation where our health is assaulted on all sides. There is not just one cause of disease. People get sick because of a number of converging changes. In Australia, according to government research, 50% of people aged 50 and over are considered to have some form of disability. 20% of children reported symptoms of Asthma to their Medical Practitioner in the past year, 30% of Australians over the age of 25 are at risk of Diabetes. Today we are faced with many enemies that simply didn't exist all those years ago.
Stress Management and Mastery: Watch Your Language
"Watch your language."
The Art of Worrying
I am worried. I have been biting my nails for weeks and now there is not much left (skin doesn't taste very good) on my hands and feet to chew on. I have been bent over the sink retching, I am constantly nauseated with pounding headaches beating out a death march in my skull and yet, life goes on. To say I am worried is placing the situation into a category far above its position ? I am sick with worry. I am worried to death and I am sick of being worried about nothing. I am even tired of being worried about being worried about nothing - and I worry about that as well!
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|