How I Put Chronic Worry Behind Me

chronic worry

“Worry is a misuse of the imagination.”  – Dan Zadra

I’m a worrywart, or should I say a recovering worrywart. The thing that started me on my path to recovery is the very thing that I tended to worry about the most – my health. The slightest illness would send me to the internet to look up possible causes. A pain in my lower back could easily become kidney failure. A simple headache was obviously a brain aneurysm.

Possible solutions where never my concern when it came to my worries. I was much too busy thinking about the problem to try to come up with a reasonable solution.

My husband and I had been trying to have a baby ever since we got married. That wasn’t working out very well and after many years of trying, my husband insisted that we make an appointment with the doctor to figure out what was going on. I didn’t feel like it was necessary because I’d already done plenty of research and had concluded that I had Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS. I reluctantly made what was in my mind a totally unnecessary visit to the doctor where she did a series of totally unnecessary blood tests. Once my blood tests came back the doctor told me that she wanted me to get an MRI. “There is a slight possibility that you have a tumor on your pituitary gland,” she told me.

Even though I thought this was a ridiculous request because I obviously had PCOS, I went along with her and got the MRI. She was right. I wasn’t. I guess that’s why reading WebMD for a few hours isn’t considered enough training to become a doctor.

The doctor told me that I’d be fine. I’d have to take some medication to get my hormone levels back to normal and may need an operation in the future to remove the tumor. “Most of the time we are able to keep the tumor under control with medication alone,” my doctor said, but all I heard was tumor … tumor … tumor over and over again.

When I got home from the doctor’s office I read everything I could about pituitary tumors. Words like infertility, blindness, headaches, osteoporosis, and stroke stuck in my brain. Now I had something real to worry about, and worry I did.

Cortisol is a hormone that is completely necessary for normal function, but when you are stressed or anxious or worried your body produces more. It turned out that the cortisol spikes I got from worry were actually giving  me headaches. Apparently, bathing my tumor in cortisol would make it swell. The frequency and intensity of my headaches started to increase. Now I found myself in a situation where I needed to stop worrying if I wanted to be able to get through the day without a headache.

Lessening my worry took lots of time and energy, but eventually I was able to get it under control.

For all my fellow worriers out there I thought I’d share some tips with you to let you know how I was able to dramatically reduce my worrying. Don’t wait to discover that your chronic worry has affected your health to decide to make a change.

Distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries.

If you are worrying about something that is solvable do something to solve it.

Most of the things chronic worriers worry about aren’t solvable though. If you’re worrying about a terrible hurricane destroying your hometown or someone you love dying suddenly, there’s not much you can do about that. Those are worries you need to acknowledge and let go. Don’t dwell on these ideas because they don’t improve the quality of your life and you have no way of doing anything about them.

Be present.

Worry is all about the future. You’re imagining terrible events that haven’t happened and probably never will. All this living in the future makes it hard to notice what’s going on around you today. When you find worry creeping into your thoughts acknowledge it and let it pass. Then focus on something positive that is happening in the moment.

Exercise regularly.

You might be tired of hearing that exercise is the solution to everything, but keeping your body physically healthy sure as heck makes a big difference in a lot of things. I found that I was able to cut down on my worry considerably when I started a regular yoga practice. You don’t have to do yoga. You could run, go for a brisk walk, play soccer, or go salsa dancing. Find a physical activity you enjoy and start doing it. Your body and your mind will thank you.

Meditate.

Meditation helps calm the mind and get rid of stress. It can also help you be more mindful in your daily life. Taking a few minutes to meditate daily helped me tremendously. I used to think of meditation as some really difficult activity that only people who were spiritually enlightened did. That’s not true. Meditation is much easier than we trick ourselves into thinking it will be.

It’s best not to try to make all of these changes at once. I’ve found that when I try to change too many things at one time I’m less likely to stick to any of them. Choose one change and implement it for thirty days. That’s long enough to make that new way of being a habit that you can stick too. Once you’ve successfully done one of these suggestions add another for thirty days. Before you know it, you’ll be relaxed and mostly worry free.

What techniques have you used to overcome worry?

Photo by Mizrak

18 thoughts on “How I Put Chronic Worry Behind Me”

  1. Hi H. Lovelyn,

    First, what a lovely name!

    I have never found any good that came out of worry, and what a wonderful post to show that. People who worry probably do it out of habit and I thank you for saying how meditation can be used to calm people down from worry.

    As you say, worry is about the future, and bringing oneself back to the present is how we do that. I used my trust in that everything always works out as a way to reduce those fears about the future.

    Susan

    1. Thanks, Susan. Worry is a habit–a bad one. Even though I knew it didn’t help anything I always fell back into it. I like your outlook that everything always works out in the end. Looking back at my life I can see that it is true.

  2. Who wouldn’t worry at the statement – tumor! – particularly a young woman with a full life ahead.
    Well done, you, for not fainting, crying or worse.
    I am very glad you have tackled your ‘worry habit’ and are able to share your lessons learnt. I agree with Susan that nothing good ever comes out of worry – indeed, as you will know that is why it is classed as immoral by some Eastern philosophies: worry does no good to anyone or anything (it’s just very understandable!) I very much like the analysis of an over-active (panicky?) misuse of the imagination.
    Thank you very much for bringing up this subject – in our rapidly changing and uncertain world, worrying is very understandable but with your help we can tame the poor beast.
    Please accept my kindest regards.

  3. Hi!
    I spent 3 years as a hypochondriac, and I am happy to say that I am no longer one! I embraced a healthier diet and meditation which proved very helpful. Worrying can be eliminated through deep breathing and asking yourself the question “where are my feet?” Once you answer that question, you become grounded in the present moment in time- literally.
    Live long + prosper

    1. I’m glad that mindfulness and meditation has helped you, Cole S. It certainly has made all the difference to me. I like the idea of asking yourself, “where are my feet?” in order to help ground you in the present.

  4. I’ve been a chronic worrier my whole life. Sometimes I worry about worrying to much lols.. Truth is as I get older I decided that there is no point in worrying about things that I can’t change.

    So I do my best to try to stay in the present and not worry to much about things that are out side of my control.

    Great article thanks for sharing..

  5. Great article. Thanks for sharing.
    As we all know, worry is a total waste of time, it keeps us so much busy doing nothing useful.

    I have been a worrier since many years in my life. I feel that my childhood is much better than this phase of my life, called “working for money”. There were no worries, stress or tensions in my school life, everything was joyous and playful. I struggle a lot to keep up with immense stress all day at work.
    The only remedy that works out well for me is to meditate for at least 10 min. in the morning after bath. I prefer not to stay alone and discuss my worries with all my friends whenever possible. I feel that crumbling negative thoughts is only possible with some physical activity and meditation.

    1. Yes, work life can be stressful, Shashi. You’re right that physical activity as well as meditation can help decrease your worries and stress. I can be good to discuss your worries with friends on occasion, but if your friends are also worriers you’ll tend to feed off of one another causing you to worry more. Discussing ways to better your situation may be a better option.

  6. Hi Lovelyn. Even though we know that worrying is a waste of our precious energy, we still do it. That’s because it’s a very difficult thing to stop. There’s a Chinese Proverb that says, “That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change. But that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” I have this written on a card and I stand it in a prominent place where I can read it often. It helps me. Exercise is fab, too. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your ideas to combat worry.

  7. Excellent post Lovelyn!

    I used to be a chronic worrywart too and I was able to get over it by changing my habits. I began reading a lot and listening to personal development podcasts and it totally changed my mindset. Yes, exercise may be a redundant advise already but that’s because it’s true. For us to have a healthy mind that do not worry a lot, we need to have a healthy body too. I am currently working on meditation and your tips definitely come handy.

    We need to stop worrying about something that hasn’t even happened and live in the moment instead.

  8. I’m a therapist and deal with anxiety all the time. And of course there’s my own anxiety. I sometimes feel like I am swimming in cortisol. Your ideas for management of worry are great ones. I also think looking at diet is important. I’ve had a few occasions in my practice where my client and I looked carefully at everything going in their body during the day. Sometimes they were getting way more caffeine than they thought and when they eliminated the excess, voila, anxiety went way down. And sometimes the bad food they were eating caused a blood sugar roller coaster ride that also contributed to the feeling of anxiety.

  9. Thanks for this Lovelyn. I especially appreciate what you said about our solvable and unsolvable problems. I think we often get caught in thinking the dreaded “what if!!???” and don’t actually finish that worry inducing sentence with what we would or could do in the face of a challenging or scary situation.

    Often just giving ourselves an opportunity to think about what we’d do and how we’d handle a difficult situation makes the situation seem much less scary and will often totally take away the worry.

    Thanks again Lovelyn,

    Julia

  10. I am truly convinced that nothing helps an anxiety sufferer more than a good inspiring anxiety success story. The real changes in a persons life that has been implemented can rub off on someone, and a little daily nudge can truly create ‘miracles.’ Great post thank you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top