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Scaring Yourself with Worry

  • anonymous Asks ...

    I started to feel really stressed out a couple of weeks before Christmas. I get really anxious about spending time with my family. I got through it Ok but I still feel really stressed and worried all the time. I feel like I am scared of something all the time but I don’t know what I am scared is going to happen. Should I be worried that this feeling is not going away even though I am back in my own place again now?

  • David Johnson Says ...
    David  Johnson

    You don't provide a lot of detail, but I notice you seem to leave out some details. I'm going to assume you believe you have a difficult problem to face, one that you're reluctant to talk about.
    Planning is a critical skill for a successful life, and key to personal growth. However, planning can easily become excessive worry. If you believe regular worry helps, you can get lost in the intensely negative feelings, effectively spinning your wheels. This can be destructive to self-esteem and self-confidence and interfere with your ability to carry out your plans.
    Some people are more prone to worry than others. But everyone can develop a self-destructive habit of excessive worry. The purpose of worry is to alert you to risks in upcoming events. But once you are aware of that risk, the distraction of the emotion can interfere with planning, or worse, can lead a person to believe that planning is a never ending process. Chronic worriers at some level believe worry is the only way to minimize the risk of things going wrong. This is not true. Worry can exhaust your resources and make you less prepared to face difficult challenges. Self confidence is needed to clear your mind to be alert enough to face a major challenge with sufficient awareness to allow quick judgments about alternatives actions available. A chronic worrier facing this challenge can be much like a deer caught in the headlights of an on-coming car. Worry slows your reaction times and shuts down critical parts of the brain that allow quick rational judgments. Instead you react purely on emotion, the classic fight or flight response set, or worst freeze you in your tracks.
    Understanding that worrying is a problem is the first step towards solving the problem. Next you must build self-confidence in your ability to respond and practice the skill of clearing your mind. This is something that will take time for many. Some people may be able to make the shift by recognizing the futility and self-destructive nature of worry. Others may need to practice regularly to build a new skill. A mindfulness practice can be very useful with a significant commitment of time to build a new skill of clearing the mind and refocusing on the task at hand. (More on mindfulness.)
    If this feels like an impossible task, you should see a counselor for help. You may have to learn anxiety management skills and build self-confidence with the help of a counselor. Then if there are circumstance here you are reluctant to talk about, that is where you need to share it. Keeping secrets when you need help can prevent successful coping.

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