My worrying skills are Adept level. I passed Master level long ago. I know how to worry.
But I have ways to stop myself from doing it right now. I have a CAT scan coming up and I worry about all the endless possibilities from a rare brain tumor to MS, as the outcome of it, when I know it isn’t likely. And I am worried about my short term disability because I haven’t heard anything and I have a hard time dealing with them. We have plenty to worry about with chronic illness, but some of those worries we can do nothing about.
So I worry.
These are things I do or Should do even for worrying
- When you are obsessively thinking about your worries just tell your brain, literally, to ‘stop it’ or ‘drop it’. Or even a sentence “I will not think on this right now.” or “This is not the time for this.” I mean it. Just stop the flow of thoughts in their tracks. If it keeps going do it again. Stop it. Drop it. This is definitely beneficial for ruminating on worries of conversations you Had, and Cannot change. Or other things that are unproductive worries. Worries that you cannot do a thing about and are wasting time thinking about them.
- Make a list of all your worries. Mark them as productive worries: things you can act upon. And unproductive worries: things you cannot act on. We can then begin to find ways to act on the ones we can. And work on not thinking about the others (dismissing those thoughts with #1)
- Avoid future thinking too much as this encourages us to worry. Focus more on the present moment.
- When you are overthinking about your worries this is a good time for a distraction to take your mind off of it all. Just turn your mind to something else. Anything. Reading. TV. Anything.
- When you are more relaxed take the time to write down what is in your control about what you are worried about. Things that you Can do. Things you can prepare. Or how you can react to things. Take the steps to do the things that are in your control.
- Acknowledge the things out of your control. These are things you should spend less time worrying about. I cannot control what my insurance company does. I cannot control what a test result will be. All I can control is my reactions and my behavior. How I deal with those people and how I react to situations.
- Acknowledge your fears. Obviously, I fear my insurance company will not approve me, and I cannot work at the moment, so it is a massive fear over money instability. With the test results, my fear is it is something Else I have to deal with. But make sure you are not catastrophizing the worst case scenario. Even if you are thinking about what you would do if this fear happened. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. The fear is the deeper root of the worry. We have to manage our stress and fear.
- Talk your worries over with someone. A friend. Family. Sometimes it is a release to do so and sometimes you can bounce ideas off them.
The aim is to gear your mind to problem solve a worry when you have a productive worry. Aim to do what you can and make a plan. But for us to not focus on non-productive worries where we may be ruminating on things we can do nothing about. Some worries we have some control over but not full control… like insurance companies. We have our role to play, but then it isn’t in our hands. We have to understand the fear behind that and manage the stress that comes with it.
There is a lot of worry that comes with chronic illness. Worry about our future. And we do a lot of future thinking that isn’t productive to us. Worries about insurance or disability applications. Worry about work and its sustainability. Some things we can have an action plan on. Some things we cannot. Sometimes we just have to add in good stress reduction.
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