Are you addicted to worrying
me, myself and I Are you addicted to worrying? Are you one of those people who worries about everything? You meet a new man and you worry so much about the fear of him hurting you. Then you start to grieve and panic when there is no need to. You worry about school test results, about job interviews, crime, approaching deadlines and shrinking budgets. What is it with this worry habit and how can we beat it? Worrying can be helpful when it spurs you to take action and solve a problem. But if you're preoccupied with "what ifs" and worst-case scenarios, worry becomes a problem of its own. Unrelenting doubts and fears are paralysing, not motivating or productive. They sap your emotional energy, send your anxiety levels soaring and interfere with your day-to-day life -all this with no positive payoff! Most chronic worriers worry because they are uncertain. The inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in anxiety and worry. Chronic worriers can't stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with a 100% certainty what's going to happen. Worrying is seen as a way to prevent what the future has in store, a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn't work. How can we challenge the intolerance of uncertainty? The key to anxiety is relief. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your responses. See if you can come to an understanding of the disadvantages and problems of being intolerant of uncertainty. • Is it possible to be certain about everything in life? • What are the advantages of requiring certainty, versus the disadvantages? Or, how is needing certainty in life helpful and unhelpful? • Do you tend to predict bad things will happen just because they are uncertain? Is this a reasonable thing to do? What is the likelihood of positive or neutral outcomes? • Is it possible to live with the small chance that something negative may happen, given its likelihood is very low? So how can we beat the worry habit? Learn how to relax! Anxiety is more than just a feeling. It's the body's physical "fight or flight" reaction to perceived threat. Your heart pounds, you breathe faster, your muscles tense up and you feel light-headed. When you are relaxed, the complete opposite happens. Your heart rate slows down, you breathe slower and more deeply, your muscles relax and your body pressure stabilises. Since it's impossible to be anxious and relaxed at the same time, strengthening your body's relaxation response is a powerful anxiety-relieving tactic. If you're a chronic worrier, relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing and meditation can teach you how to relax. The key is regular practice. Try to set aside at least 30 minutes a day. Over time, the relaxation response will come easier and easier, until it feels natural. • Progressive muscle relaxation: The technique involves systematically tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body. As your body relaxes, your mind will follow. Try tense your shoulders by raising them to your ears for a few seconds and then relax them again. • Deep breathing: When you are anxious, you breathe faster. This hyper-ventilation causes symptoms such as dizziness, breathlessness and lightheadedness. These physical symptoms are frightening, leading to further anxiety and panic. But by breathing deeply from the diaphragm, you can reverse these symptoms and calm yourself down. • Meditation: Start by paying attention to your breathing. The practical effort of focusing completely on your breathing takes your mind away from the "mind clutter" and leads to a time of calm. From now on, accept that you can never be 100% sure about anything and everything 100% of the time. You can't predict what's going to happen either. Learn to relax by using progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing and meditation. Zane Wilson, who is the founder of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), also gave us some tips on how to deal with anxiety. • Join a support group: Many people find it helpful to share their problems and successes with others who are going through the same thing. • Accept your anxiety: Don't fight it. Replace your rejection, anger, and hatred of it with acceptance. By resisting, you're prolonging the unpleasantness of it. Instead, flow with it. Don't make it responsible for how you think, feel, and act. • Control your anxiety: Only allow yourself to be anxious at certain times of the day, for example between 6 and 6:30pm. • SADAG also offers free telephonic counselling from Sam to 8pm 7 days a week. You can contact SADAG on Oil 2626396.