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DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF Share your worries with a friend
DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF Share your worries with a friend

Learn to take charge before the habit of worrying stumps you

It’s okay to be a worrywart! Before both your eyebrows disappear into your hairline with surprise, let me add the rider: like all doses of emotions, worry, too, needs to be in small, manageable dosages.

Everyone worries, that’s natural. The worries span a wide range from family, health and finances, to job, ageing parents and property.

However, some take worry to peaks of anxiety, obsess over their problems. Some fall ill with worry. Some give in to panic disorders.

The trick is to worry in small doses, worry for just a brief while and be in total control of yourself, all the while.

This takes time but when it comes to your health, you need to make the time.

Just set a time to worry. When thoughts of problems creep into your mind, unbidden, at various times of the day and when you are involved in doing other things (such as working, for example!), learn to block the worry immediately, and file it away for future reference.

Set aside just 10-15 minutes every day, at a time that suits you, then take those worries off that mental shelf, stew over them for the stipulated time and seek solutions within yourself.

Examine the logic

Examine the logic of your worries. When looked at up close and personal, and more importantly, with a cold assessing eye, many worries will seem downright silly, born more out of habit than a real problem.

Dispense with that kind of worry immediately. Do not worry about global warming with the same intensity of emotion that you reserve for your upcoming surgery.

Put it all in proportion and nothing will seem insurmountable. Also, tell yourself that some problems cannot be solved; it is like trying to stop the tide. Just let go.

Put your worries to the test. This is facing them, and facing them down.

Confront the worries calmly, play out a worst case scenario; what actually happened, could it have been prevented, can it be contained, what is the worst thing that could happen in the event of the incumbent worry (see how ridiculous it sounds?) turning fear into fact.

There, now you’ve imagined the worst…things can only better from here on.

Pep talk

Talk back to your worries. Of course, this is to be done discreetly, before people around you start calling you a straitjacket.

Give your worries a pep talk, it may sound a bit odd at first, but what you are doing is actually giving your temporarily suppressed morale a talking to.

The effect will soon show, your mood will lift, the solution to the hitherto humungous problem will also soon show up.

This is also the time to enlarge your perspective. Those wallowing in worries tend to see themselves as the ultimate victims, people drowning under the weight of their worries, while all around them walk carefree.

Time for a reality check. Everyone has worries, big and small.

Life comes with worries attached, it is up to us to manage both the problems and the quality of our life.

Remember the saying ‘you have just one life, live it well.’

Inoculate yourself against worries. Not problems, mind you, problems have a way of slipping past most barriers.

What you need is a bedrock of confidence in yourself, a knowledge that ‘this, too, shall pass,’ and most crucial, a love and enthusiasm for life that is undimmed by the passing years and by all that life throws at you. This is your armour against needless worrying.

If all else fails, distract yourself. Go listen to some soothing music, re-read a book by a favourite author. Involve yourself in some activity. Go for a long, brisk walk.

Share your worries with someone and along with the sympathy, may come some answers, too.

Use mental biofeedback. Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies.

Psychologists use it to help tense and anxious clients relax. It is like when you are running a fever, you take your temperature; the thermometer tells you whether you are actually running a fever.

This is ‘feedback` of information about your body’s condition. Armed with this information, you can take steps you’ve learned to improve the condition.

In biofeedback, patients usually are taught some form of relaxation exercise, how to identify the circumstances that trigger their stress, how to avoid or cope with these stressful events, how to change their habits and gain self-control, in order to be on top of every situation.

What else to do

Learn to relax. This, of course, we know, is an art but it’s time for you to cultivate this art. Observe how a cat can go into relax mode suddenly, completely, totally. And whoever has heard of a worried cat?

Find what relaxes you, vipasana, yoga, a quick nap, some gardening and every time a worry threatens to cloud your mind entirely, push that internal relax button. Just say ‘no’ to worry.

SHEILA KUMAR

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