Is worrying about worrying, good for your health?

         © Glow Images. Models used for illustrative purposes.

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.

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I'm a Melbourne based health writer who provides a perspective on the connection between spirituality, thought and health. As a keen blogger, my aim is to provide the public with a diversity of health content including research into the mind-body connection and how thought affects health.

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Comments

  1. Shelley says

    Thank you Beverly,
    Thoroughly enjoying your blogs! They are always so timely and up to the minute – just great. Dealing with troubling issues from a spiritual perspective lightens the load immensely. It brings such joy to know that there is another way. Loved the comforting words that came to you in your time of need, and also the two helpful suggestions. There is a line in the book “Miscellany”, written by Mary Baker Eddy, stating that “…all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefitted.” (p.210)
    I just love that statement, for she doesn’t say that all whom your thoughts are anxious about, or concerned for, or worried over, rather, to rest (REST being the underlying word here) good, loving and uplifting thoughts upon, which most definitely benefits, and has been a proven counsel.
    Again, thank you Beverly for your good works, keep those blogs coming!

    • Beverly says

      Thank you Shelley for your excellent comment. There IS another alternative to worrying, and spirituality shows the way forward. I love the idea that “…all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefitted.” As you say the word ‘rest’ brings to mind qualites of peace, gentleness, quietness and confidence. Quite a radical departure from worrying, and one that leads to comfort and healing. Thank you for taking the time to send in your thoughts.

  2. Yvonne says

    Another very timely blog Beverley. I can relate to the subject. My father was a worrier and my Mum used to say that if he didn’t have something to worry about he would find something! I read a Sentinel article ages ago when I was having a struggle that said to be a warrior not a worrier. Good advice. Remember a hit song that said “don’t worry, be happy”. I always get a lot from your blogs Beverley they are very helpful to me. Thank you Beverley. Yvonne

    • Beverly says

      Thank you Yvonne for your good comment. I am pleased that you are finding my blogs helpful and timely. What a good thought to be ‘warrior’ – and be proactive with prayer instead of remaining a worrier. I remember that hit song “don’t worry, be happy”. This is good advice – especially when you know where true happiness comes from.

  3. Joy says

    Beverly I am so grateful for all your wonderfull uplifting and inspiring blogs, they are so positive and healing.
    I used to be fairly anxious as my girls were growing up, learning to drive, and travelling overseas on their own. As parents it’s so tempting to be concerned for our children in response to the sensationalism of the daily news.
    I discovered in my Collins dictionary that the word worry comes from the Old English word “wyrgan” which means “to strangle”. I certainly did’nt want to do that to my loved ones, so I promptly dropped that unhelpful reaction.
    Prayer has a pro-active effect. I discovered through my prayers and study of the Bible and Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, that God, who is divine Principle Love itself, is our Parent, my Parent, my children and loved one’s Parent, in fact every individuals real Parent. That this One divine Parent is always loving each person. Guiding, governing, inspiring and protecting each person, every moment, wherever they are, around the clock.
    That realization has given me such peace and comfort throughout the years, just to know their Mother-Love was and is always right there with our loved ones. What more could a parent want than this assurance.
    Thank you dear Beverly for handling these everyday topics.

  4. Beverly says

    Thank you Joy for your excellent comment. I am glad that you are finding the blogs uplifting. Thank you too for your helpful comments about how you dealt with worry for your children as they were growing up. It’s good to know that you found peace of mind through spiritual thinking and prayer. Well done.

  5. Keziah says

    Hi there Beverly, thank you for reminding me that worry is such a senseless exercise. I love your second suggestion of getting into the driver’s seat, taking control of what seems to be out of control.
    It reminds me very much of a sentence from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy “Reason is the most active human faculty.”
    Let’s take a step back, let reason inform our concerns and not what is so often baseless worry.

    • Beverly says

      Thank you Keziah for your comment and reminder to “step back, let reason inform our concerns and not what is so often baseless worry.” It’s comforting to know that right when things seem out of control, there is a divine Presence caring for us and keeping us safe and well.