HOW то… stop worrying by Mental Health Promotion (pdf)
What is worrying?
Worrying means spending a lot of time thinking about bad things – being preoccupied with negative possibilities. The more you worry the larger your worries become. You may even find yourself worrying about all the time you have spent worrying. There are many different types of worries; they include worries about things that might happen in the future, worrying about things that are actually taking place, and retrospective worry about events that have already passed.
“I think of myself as a born worrier. I’ve always worried, ever since I was little. I’d worry about what people at school thought about me and about homework and all sorts of things.”
“I worry so much that for my last birthday a friend bought me a plaque with the slogan ‘Worrying is like riding a rocking horse -it doesn’t get you anywhere’.”
“As a child, every night when I went to bed I would worry about members of my family dying. I am not religious but I ended up saying a prayer each night that was basically a list of my worries, which I asked God to take care of. This helped me to go to sleep. As I grew up the list of worries became so long that I used to worry about going to bed. The ‘prayer’ took so long and there was so much to remember. In the end it was a worry off my mind when I stopped saying the prayer.”
Almost everybody worries. A certain amount of worrying is a healthy response to life. It can prevent us from being reckless, or stimulate us to do our best or to take control of a situation. But some people worry a lot more than others and sometimes to the point where worrying becomes a problem in itself. This booklet explains the problem and its effects, suggests ways of tackling it and how to find more help.
Why do we worry?
“I think my worrying has a lot to do with my lack of self-confidence. Although it’s hard to admit, it’s often easier for me to worry about something than to do something about it. Over the years I’ve learnt that the less time I give myself to worry and the quicker I act, the better. I may feel ill before I make that phone call and shake a bit afterwards but when it’s over I feel so much better, having blasted a worry – however small – into oblivion.”
Worries are basically fears. Everyone gets scared, but we all handle fear in different ways. Sometimes it is easier to dwell on a fear than to do something about it, or to accept that there is nothing to be done. This may be because of a lack of confidence – we may not believe we are capable of taking action or handling a bad situation. (If this seems to be the case for you, you might find Minds booklet How to Assert Yourself useful; for details see Further Reading on p.14.)
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