Ask Gwen: Worry


I worry about everything. Any suggestion how I can stop worrying?

Gwen’s Answer:

Worry is a common problem, however, sometimes it can be appropriate and even helpful. This kind of worry about actual, imminent situations, can help us be mindful and exercise necessary precaution. A worry, for example, might help us to remember to tread carefully on a slippery sidewalk or to be proactive about our medical appointments.

Sometimes excessive worry becomes dysfunctional. Hyper-vigilant, repetitive thoughts about things that ‘might’ happen can create a cycle of fear and anxiety. The scenarios that play out in our mind’s eye causes us to feel all the emotions of such events actually occurring. The physical body experiences this as if it is actually happening. The horror of the imagined experiences creates more fear, and hence we are caught in a downward spiral.

This type of worry/fear/anxiety cycle can occur in relation to finances, physical health and social situations among many others. People even worry about how much they worry or become anxious about their anxiety. In the extreme form, this manifests as anxiety attacks or obsessive/compulsive thoughts and behaviors. Clearly, this is no way to live.

We can begin to heal this worry habit by always asking ourselves how things are at this present moment. If we are okay, then we need to just stay in the present and not let our thoughts jump to future scenarios.

We can also practice “thought stopping,” refusing to entertain negative thoughts, and replacing them with positive ones.

Hypnosis is an effective treatment for calming overactive worry. I have created a hypnosis MP3, Stop Worrying and Start Enjoying Life, to make this type of treatment readily available.  With repeated listening, we can learn to live in the present moment, to reprogram our troubling thoughts and to instead focus on and begin to look forward to positive outcomes. Please follow the link at the end of this article for more information about this recording.

For those who feel they absolutely must worry, a “worry budget” is in order. You can only worry for thirty minutes each day. You must set aside a specific time for this so that worry does not contaminate the rest of your day. For those who feel this is not enough time, they will need to prioritize their worries and only worry about the big things that are actually real, if indeed there are any of those.

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