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It’s one thing to worry. It’s another thing to worry about worrying. At least that’s what a friend of mine says. Believing herself to be a chronic worrier, she’s now concerned that it might be genetic. Her father was a BIG worrier – the kind that has to have the family fretting right along with him. She wants to stop worrying, but doesn’t know how.
A colleague worries over just about everything – family, money, work, news of what’s happening in the world, and most of all, health. He’s particularly troubled by ‘what if’ thoughts. You know the kind of thing. What if I get sick? What if I can’t work? What if I die? Speculating about what the future holds can definitely keep you awake at night! He wants to stop being distressed by those sorts of worrying thoughts.
There’s a lot of worry like this going around. It seems that many of us are now less confident about staying well. What causes us to worry? A talk-back radio caller put his finger on one cause. He said there’s so much in the press to be anxious about these days. Every time you open the newspaper there’s news of illness and disease. This can lead to panic.
What can we do about it? Taking on the media, and scare tactics, is the aim of Simon Briscoe, statistics editor for the Financial Times in the U.K., and Hugh Aldersey-Williams science author and writer. Their book, “Panicology: Two Statisticians Explain What’s Worth Worrying About (And What’s Not) in the 21st Century”, helps readers break through panic. Their advice? Think “carefully, selectively, skeptically, …worry less”, and …“not to always believe everything you read.”
The concerns of Briscoe’s and Aldersey-Williams, are echoed in an essay by Drs. Welch, Schwartz, and Woloshin, “What’s Making Us Sick Is an Epidemic of Diagnoses” . In their piece, the authors assert that constantly looking for and diagnosing sickness actually threatens health. It can make people feel anxious and vulnerable. Their advice? “People need to think hard about the benefits and risks of increased diagnosis: the fundamental question they face is whether or not to become a patient.”
So what is worry, and how can we stop worrying? For some people, worry is a part of modern life. It comes with the territory. Anxiety, pessimism, and negativity are normal. Others think that they’re “born worriers” – that they’ve inherited that tendency.
According to Google dictionary, worry is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems; allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. This can amount to a chronic state of fear, that we or someone we care about may not be safe or well. To antidote this fear, I’ve found that thinking which is based on the Scriptures, can be helpful. For example, one text reassures us that power, love, and a sound mind are native to us, and worry is not. This means that we can stay calm in distressing circumstances.
This is what happened to me when a close family member became very ill. I was scared, and worried about her future welfare. I so wanted to help her get well. I turned to prayer. Soon, these comforting words came to me: “Stop worrying. Your dear one’s health is in divine Love’s care.” I trusted this intuition. She recovered completely. Later I learned that she too had prayed. This experience showed me that worrying – being fearful about our health or the future – leads nowhere. Whereas, prayerful thinking brings peace of mind and restores good health.
Since worry is a state of mind, I’ve found the following suggestions helpful. 1. Stop anxiety and fear in its tracks by saying ‘no’ to ruminating, reiterating or speculating over problems. 2. Get in the driver’s seat. Put concerns on a “prayer list” instead of a “worry list”.
Thinking from a spiritual perspective can counter worry and carry us through tough times. No matter what the news headlines are saying about health, or the world we live in, I’ve found that worry-free living isn’t an impossible dream.