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Soothing the Worried Mind
This is not a good time to be a news junkie.
Headlines are crammed with stories of global strife, economic woes, an overheated political climate and, well, an overheated planet.
It's enough to keep anyone up at night, and it's hard to stop worrying even though we all know doing so takes a serious toll on our mental and physical well-being.
There's a laundry list of worry-related health concerns at WebMD, along with evidence that worry contributes to heart disease. (Too bad knowing about this just makes us worry more.)
Fortunately, the WebMD article offers a comprehensive overview on chronic worrying, along with several useful tips about how to get a grip. Here are a few that resonated with me.
- Make a list & analyze it: There's something about seeing one's thoughts on paper - rather in a vague jumble in your head - that makes them much easier to manage. Expert suggest that listing our worries makes it easy to see which concerns have solutions or a chance to take productive steps. It also helps you suss out the concerns that are unproductive and sapping you of much - needed sleep.
- Embrace uncertainity. Sure, it's easy to say, and nearly impossible to do when that uncertainity involves a 401K plan. The logic, however, makes sense: Once you isolate your worry, ask yourself if there's anything you can do. If so, change whatever is within your control and let go of things that are beyond your scope.
- Stop the Clock. Worry can often translate into a sense of urgency even when there's no reason to act quicky. Instead, experts suggest we stop, take a deep breath and ask ourselves the following question: "What can I do in the present moment to make my life more pleasant or meaningful?" Taking a moment to breath will definitely help lessen that anxious feeling.
- Express yourself. According to experts, worry suppresses the emotional part of the brain - the amygdala. That suppressed emotion can then manifest itself with physical symptoms, such as an upset stomach and a racing heartbeat. Instead, stamp your feet and pound your pillow to let off some steam. According to one expert: "Use your emotions; don't try to get rid of them because when you are crying or angry, you are not worried."