Can Worry Be Good For You?

You spend night after night in bed worrying about your marriage, your health, your finances, and why are you worrying? Don’t feel bad. You are not the only one. In fact some of life’s most successful people are perpetual worriers. Just what is it that separates successful worriers from the rest of us who are simply bundles of nerves? What these people do is convert their stress into something positive.

Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, author of Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition, explains that worry is good for us if we turn our preoccupation into positive action. On the other hand what Dr. Hallowell calls toxic concern leads to paralyzing fear. “If you have a mole on your forearm you are concerned and you go to the doctor. This is a good concern because you take constructive action,” says Hallowell. “On the other hand if each time you look at the mole you freeze in fear that is toxic concern which is not productive and makes living a successful life impossible.”

This five step plan offered by Dr. Hallowell helps get rid of toxic concern and exploit stress to take positive action.

1. Never Worry Alone

This is the first and most important step. Get your fears out in the open by talking to someone you trust. This can be your husband, brother, or best friend. “The anti-anxiety agent ever created is human connection,” says Hallowell.

2. Analyze The Facts

Toxic concern comes from lack of information, misinformation or both. Talk to your employer, doctor, banker, lawyer, or whoever seems appropriate to help clarify your situation. “It’s better to have this conversation than simply hoping that things will sort themselves out by themselves,” says Hallowell.

3. Make A Plan

Once you have clear facts, make a plan to solve the problem that concerns you and follow it step by step. For example, if what you are concerned about is money, you can open a savings account and start living on a budget.

“The most common victims of toxic concern are passive people. With a plan you have more control over any situation and will commonly feel less vulnerable.” This is essential because perceived lack of control and a sense of vulnerability are basic aspects of toxic concern.

And what if the plan doesn’t work? Then change the plan! If your new budget is not helping enough go out and get a part time job. “That is what life is all about,” says Hallowell, “making and changing plans.”

4. Take Care Of Yourself

Women trapped in toxic concern often stop worrying about their own health, which can make everything worse. When you have constant, nagging concerns is the time more than ever when your need enough sleep, a balanced diet, and exercise. Avoid junk food and pray or meditate every day to help you feel more calm and balanced. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people and avoid those who make you feel more stressed.

5. Let Your Worries Go

Once you’ve completed the first four steps you can relax and start to trust that you’ve doing everything possible to solve your problem. It is not easy to say goodbye to concerns, and they tend to have the habit of returning over and over again. Nevertheless, with time, you will see that you concerns subside and you mental and physical energy return along with a positive attitude about yourself.

“Breaking out of toxic concern takes work and perseverance,” says Hallowell, “but the reward is worth the effort and life becomes easier.”

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