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Overcoming Fear And Worry Part 2

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Worry

Worry. It knows no limits and has no boundaries.
The poor worry about getting money, and the wealthy worry about keeping it.
Lewis Thomas, an American scientist and author, once wrote:
“We are, perhaps, uniquely among the earth’s creatures the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still.”

It doesn’t matter what age you are—worry could be your constant companion, if you let it.

You’ve probably been in fog before. It’s a misty moisture that puts a chill in the air and takes the curl out of your hair. Did you know, however, how much actual water is in fog? If there were a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet, the actual water content would be less than a glass of water. That’s right: when it’s condensed, all that fog, which slows traffic to a snail’s pace and keeps you from seeing the building across the block, can fit into a drinking glass.
The authors of Helping Worriers point out:
Worry is like that. It clouds up reality. It chills us to the bone. It blocks the warmth and light of the sunshine. If we could see through the fog of worry and into the future, we would see our problems in their true light.

WHAT IS WORRY?

How would you define worry? What sets it apart from anxiety or fear? When you experience anxiety, your body responds. Usually your muscles tighten and your heart races. Worry has been defined as the thinking part of anxiety, as a series of thoughts and images that are full of emotion—all negative. These thoughts are rarely uncontrollable, but they focus on something that has an uncertain outcome. The worrier is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the outcome will be negative.

The word worry comes from an Anglo-Saxon root meaning “to strangle” or “to choke.”

Put your hands on your throat. Now squeeze.

That’s worry. Worry is the uneasy, suffocating feeling we often experience in times of fear, trouble, or problems.

When we worry, we look pessimistically into the future and think of the worst possible outcomes to the situation of our life. Intense worry is about as useful to our thinking as lighted matches in a dynamite factory.

A family raises golden retrievers. They don’t let them have bones to chew because they’re not good for them. But have you ever seen a dog with a bone? They have a phrase for the way a dog becomes addicted to that bone: He “worries” it. He just gnaws and gnaws on it day and night. He won’t let go and may growl at you if you try to take it away from him. He’s looking for meat but usually finds gristle, bone and marrow. The dog buries his bone, then digs it up and gnaws on it again and even though it’s covered with dirt and leaves. He’ll bury it and repeat the process again and again. Worriers are the same: They bite and chew on their worry, bury it, dig it up, bury it and dig it up again.

WORRY: THE WAR WITHIN US

Worry is like a war that is raging inside us. Dr. John Haggai, founder of the Haggai Institute, describes the conflict this way:
Worry divides the feelings; therefore the emotions lack stability. Worry divides the understanding; therefore convictions are shallow and changeable. Worry divides the faculty of perception; therefore observations are faulty and even false. Worry divides the faculty of judging therefore attitudes and decisions are often unjust. These decisions lead to damage and grief. Worry divides the determinative faculty; therefore plans and purposes. If not “scrapped” altogether, are not filled with persistence

Worry is thinking turned into poisoned thoughts.

Worry has been described as a small trickle of fear that meanders through the mind until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
With worry there is dread of something just over the horizon. When you worry, you’re preoccupied with something about yourself. And often you keep the worries to yourself. This tendency keeps you on edge. You’re not fully relaxed.
In fact, worriers don’t handle stress or upset as well as others. They’re overly troubled by it. Worry has been called the fuel system for stress. When you worry, you add to your upset by coming up with several worst-case scenarios to your concern, but you’re unable to know for sure which one is going to happen.

Worriers have a calling in life: They want to examine what can go wrong. They are like drivers on the freeway who come upon a grisly accident. It’s horrible, but they have to look. Why? Because of fear and curiosity. Often, people know they could see something that they don’t want to see, but they look anyway.

Dr. Gregory Jantz describes worry this way:
Worries are like weeds, they have a tendency to grow up overnight. One of worry’s favorite, most-fertile soils is an over-busy life. An overcommitted, no-time-to-breathe daily pace produces a toxicity that poisons peace, calm, and contentment. On the other hand, worries thrive in this toxic environment. When you’re so busy going from thing to thing, there’s no time to stop, to evaluate, to determine your next course. There is no time for reflection. There is no time to take a breath and decide what to do next. When there’s no time for you to decide, you’ve lost control.
Worry is like a magnet that draws the worrier.
Perhaps we’re all interested in what can go wrong in our life. We’re fascinated by the possibilities. And when a possibility is discovered, we latch onto it with all of our what-ifs.
Worry is actually a kind of fear—a special kind. To create it, we elongate fear with two things—anticipation and memory. We then infuse it with our imagination and feed it with emotion. And then we have our creation.
You’ve heard the word catastrophe? That’s what worriers envision. In their mind they create the worst of all possible outcomes.
One of the best descriptions of worry I’ve found is from Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of the Center for Counseling and Health Resources:
Worry is the ultimate recycler. Any anxiety, fear, or concern is reused and recycled endlessly. Worry says if it happened once, it will happen again. Worry says just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it couldn’t have. Worry says just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it won’t. Worry says there’s no guarantee about tomorrow unless it’s a guarantee of disaster. Worry wants to heap up all the actual and perceived disasters of yesterday and pile them on today, as well as any possible problem of tomorrow. This is simply too heavy a load for today to bear; it will crush beneath the weight. Hope gets crushed, joy gets crushed, optimism gets crushed, as does any sense of perspective.

PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF WORRY

13 PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF WORRY Did you know that worry affects your sleep? Some worrying people tend to sleep on and on as though it’s a rest from the drain of worry, but for most people worry is likely to create insomnia. The thoughts that race and tumble through your worry-filled mind interfere with your ability to relax and fall asleep. There are other things that happen to your body when you worry. You may not be aware of them, but they are there. It takes an electroencephalogram (EEG) to show you. This test shows the brainwave differences that occur when people worry. When you worry excessively, your brain is even more heavily impacted. Worrying more and more about something (and I mean for hours a day, week after week) is like having a “switching station” in your brain get stuck. Remember when you have a cramp in a leg muscle and it stays and stays regardless of what you do? Well, worrying about something is like having a brain cramp that won’t let go of your worry. The more you worry, the more you cut a groove in your brain and the more worry finds a home in which to reside. That’s why other people’s suggestions of “Don’t worry” or “Just relax” won’t work.14 What happens if you experience a major upset in your life? Then there is even more of a biological process that occurs. Your body goes into action, sending out various hormones and other substances in its response to the trauma. This actually makes the worry “burn” itself into the brain. It really becomes attached, and your brain’s physical state changes. It can actually alter your brain’s chemistry.15 WORRY AND ANXIETY If fear and worry are first cousins, worry and anxiety have an even closer relationship. Worry and anxiety both refer to the inner turmoil we experience in fearful, stressful situations. The ancient Greeks described anxiety as opposing forces at work to tear a man apart. We all worry; that’s a given. But many worry excessively and thus end up suffering. Their worry is more than an annoyance; it actually hinders their lives. There is a place in our lives for legitimate fear and concern, and at times a degree of anxiety when these are related to realistic situations. Not all anxiety is bad; it sometimes has a plus side. As Dr. O. Quentin Hyder suggests in The Christian’s Handbook of Psychiatry: A little [anxiety] in normal amounts can enhance performance. Athletes would be unable to perform successfully without. Businessmen do better in their competitive world than they could do without its stimulus. It definitely strengthens concentration and spurs imagination, thereby producing more creative ideas. It stimulates interest and develops ambition. It protects from danger.16 In its positive sense, anxiety is a God-given instinct that alerts us to fearful situations and prepares us to respond appropriately to them. But worry often takes a concern and makes it toxic. The legitimate responses form a built-in alarm system that works when needed, but worry is like a car alarm system that won’t turn off and can drive the frustrated owner up a wall! Pastor Earl Lee illustrates the difference: Worry is like racing an automobile engine while it is in neutral. The gas and noise and smog do not get us anywhere. But legitimate concern . . . is putting the car into low gear on your way to moving ahead. You tell yourself that you are going to use the power God has given you to do something about the situation which could cause you to fret.17 Worry immobilizes you and does not lead to action, while legitimate concern moves you to overcome the problem. There are many diseases in our world today, but worry is an old one—a disease of the imagination. It’s like a virus that slowly and subtly overtakes and dominates your life. It’s like an invading army that creeps ashore at night and eventually controls the country. When that happens, your ability to live life the way you want to is diminished. A Swedish proverb says, “Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.” Many Scripture verses describe the effects of worry and anxiety. And many other verses reveal that a worry-free life reaps many positive rewards. Notice the contrast in the verses that follow: “Anxiety weighs down the heart.” — “A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.” — , RSV “A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.” — , AMP “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” — , AMP “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” — , AMP WHY WE WORRY What do we worry about?18 It would be safe to say everything. Dr. Samuel Kraines and Eloise Thetford suggest three categories into which most worries fall: Disturbing situations for which one must find a solution—for example the basics such as how to obtain money for food, lodging or medical expenses. Disturbing situations over which one has no control—for example, a mother dying of cancer, a usually prompt daughter who is five hours late, or a child in active combat. Unimportant, insignificant, minor problems of everyday life that warrant little attention, let alone “worry.” People “worry” about minor details of everyday life, concocting horrible possibilities and then “stewing” about them. [We worry that we’re not doing well at work, that we will be fired, and that we cannot pay our bills.] The list goes on and on. The worry is not only a feeling tone of fearfulness, but an overriding sense of futility, hopelessness and dreaded possibilities.19 Worrying intensely about the possibility of some event happening not only fails to prevent it from occurring but also can actually help to bring it about. Imagine a young seminary student waiting to preach his first sermon. He sits thinking about what he’s going to say. He begins to worry about forgetting words, stumbling over certain phrases, and not presenting himself in a confident manner. As he continues to worry, he actually sees himself making these mistakes. And then when he gets up to preach, he makes the very mistakes he worried about! His worry became a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you were to tell this student that he shouldn’t have worried about his preaching, he probably would have replied, “I was justified in worrying. After all, those problems that I worried about were real problems. They happened, didn’t they? I should have been worried.” What he doesn’t realize is that by his own worry, he actually helped the mistakes he worried about occur. He was responsible for his own failure. He spent more time seeing himself fail than he did visualizing himself succeeding or overcoming his fears. The principle here is that if you spend time seeing yourself as a failure, you’ll more than likely reproduce in your performance what you imagined. You actually condition yourself for negative performances because of your negative thinking. The classic example of this is the person who worries about getting an ulcer and in a few months is rewarded for his or her efforts with an ulcer. People who continually worry about having an accident on the freeway are very accident-prone. They are more likely to have accidents than other people because they constantly visualize such events. However, if you spend the same amount of time and energy planning how to overcome your anticipated mistakes and envisioning your success as you do visualizing your failure, your performance will be far better. The final results of fear, worry, and anxiety are negative, self-defeating, and incapacitating. What do we accomplish by worrying? Are there any positive results? Make a list of the things you worry about; then describe specifically what the worry has accomplished—or has it created more problems? When you worry about a problem, real or imaginary, it usually keeps you from being able to do something effective about the problem. Worry, in other words, is a big problem in itself. Do you enjoy worrying? Strong question? Worry seems to have a certain attraction in itself. Pain seems to grab our attention more readily than pleasure. Perhaps worrying is a bit like watching a scary horror movie: It’s kind of exciting as well as entertaining. Or perhaps when you worry, you’re getting some kind of stimulation. Your mind is engaged, locked in on a target like a heat-seeking missile. Have you ever considered worry as a protective device? For some people it is. It’s as though the worry portion of the brain has a spasm. It just can’t seem to let go of the perceived problem and see the other side. Whatever the good news is, it’s rejected. Those who are depressed often turn to worry. If you have an obsessive-compulsive condition, worry can feel like the waves of an ocean. You can’t seem to stop it. If you were traumatized, worry is your constant companion. The Role of Physiology Many individuals choose or learn to worry, but recently the role of physiology has been discovered to also be involved in worry. A study indicated that there is a gene that regulates one of the chemicals in our body called serotonin, which is believed to help maintain our feeling of wellbeing. Some people who have this gene may have an inclination to worry, and some people who have this gene actually look for an issue to worry about, since the only time they feel complete is when they do so.20 When we’re born, we come into an inheritance. In fact it’s been given to us prior to birth during the development process. It’s as though we sit through the reading of a will and discover what our inheritance is going to be. Some of what we inherit makes life fuller and easier, while some has the opposite effect. You may have inherited the tendency to be shy. Or you may have a nervous system and structure that are high-strung. Some people have a trigger mechanism for worry that is a hair trigger; the slightest touch sets it off. Some develop this over years of practice. Technicians wire up computers, components, and other electronic instruments in certain ways; and we are all wired in unique ways as well. When we enter this life, we have a certain set of personality traits—or wiring, as it were. Some of us are wired to be extroverts and some of us to be introverts. Some of us are methodical and structured, while others can become lost between the front door and the car. Dr. Edward Hallowell described our condition very well: Worries seem to inherit a neurological vulnerability that life events can then trigger. While some people are born confident, others are born insecure. While some people are born calm, others are born wired. While some people are born plunging forward, others are born holding back. You may be born with a specific characteristic or you may be born with a vulnerability to develop it later on, in the face of the stresses life usually presents.21 However, before any of us say, “That’s it. That’s the reason I worry: I can’t help it. I’m genetically predisposed and predetermined to do so. Nothing I do will ever help, so why try?” consider these factors: None of us knows for sure if that is the reason at this point. This predisposition is also modified by our personality and life experiences. What we experience and learn in life can have an effect on how strongly a gene may be expressed, and (here is the big factor) the expression of such a gene can be changed by experience and training.22 Regardless of the reason we worry, we can learn to control its effect upon our lives. As Christians, we have the greatest opportunity to do so, because of the resources of our faith. The Role of Genetics and Biochemistry Anxiety was mentioned earlier, but let’s look at it further to see how it differs from worry. Anxiety is a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind tied into some impending event. It’s a response full of fear that impacts the body with responses that include sweating, muscles tensing, rapid pulse rate, and fast breathing. There is also a sense of doubt about both the reality of the threat and one’s ability to handle it. We all experience anxiety, but when it disrupts our lifestyle, we call it an anxiety disorder. Most anxiety is self-induced, but how does it develop? In fact, it tends to run in families. There appears to be some type of genetic bent toward this tendency, just like worry. Your environment also plays a role. This could include a family member who provided a role model of being a worrier, the expectation for you to be perfect, some form of abandonment as a child, and so on. Anxiety can be influenced by biochemistry as well. Some of the personality traits that we develop can also contribute to an anxiety disorder, including the tendency to have huge expectations as well as to need the approval of everyone. When your mind dwells on these things, your biochemistry is affected, which can then make you more prone to being anxious. We call this the adrenaline response. When you have an adrenaline response, a signal is sent to your brain, and an alarm system is activated. Your body then secretes a hormone called adrenaline. (That’s just the beginning of the process). Your nervous system has been warned that something is wrong, that some danger may be present or possible. Then cortisol is secreted. These stimulants begin to flow through your body. This biochemical response is not a malfunction of the central nervous system; it is a completely normal response. If a man wearing a ski mask were to burst into your home, your body would immediately respond by registering trouble. Then adrenaline and cortisol would start racing through your body. God created you with a central nervous system that is sensitive to the reception of these stimulants, and it reacts to them with the fight-or-flight response. You are now ready to either defend yourself or run away as fast as you can. Your body is prepared for survival. This is a perfectly appropriate response from a healthy, functioning body preparing to protect itself. You’re normal, and your body has gone into action. It’s on call to protect you.23 Have you ever experienced getting “worked up” in your mind? You create a scenario in your thought life that is as real as life itself. Then your body responds as described above, as though you’re confronted by the intruder in the ski mask: [Your] heart begins to pump faster, transporting oxygen to the muscles in your legs and arms. The stomach—a vulnerable center which in combat needs protection—contracts as blood moves swiftly away from it. You get a chronically upset stomach, nausea, or cramping and you think, What if I have stomach cancer? Blood rushes into the arms and legs and out of the hands and feet, the protruding limbs which are also vulnerable to being injured. Your fingers and toes become cold. They tingle and you think, What if I have multiple sclerosis? Your heart pounds so hard, you think, What if I’m having a heart attack? The blood rushes out of your head causing dizziness and you think, What if I have a brain tumor? There is nothing to be done with your overstimulated system, so it turns in on itself. You are now just a step away from panic.24 Have you ever felt so anxious that you’ve been bewildered or even disoriented? You may have felt, Oh no! I’m losing my mind! I’m going crazy! You probably wanted to get rid of this bewildered feeling, because you thought it was bad. But actually that sort of feeling is a healthy response that helps you cope with the situation. If you struggle with excessive anxiety or any kind of phobias, you could experience these responses. This is your mind’s way of taking a break or mini-vacation from your emotional overload. In a crisis or a trauma a person’s normal system shuts down and a mild state of shock goes into action. The system needs to shut down because there is too much coming at the person for him or her to handle everything. The senses can’t handle it all. When you experience excessive anxiety the same thing happens. This is an adrenaline response. It won’t hurt you and it will go away in a few hours. Instead of focusing on your anxiety, which will produce more adrenaline, tell yourself, I’m all right; this is normal. God created my body to respond this way. This is protecting me from too much happening at once. The Role of Personality Now let’s consider some of the personality traits that can contribute to anxiety in our life. Perfectionism is one culprit. I mentioned this before. Perfectionism is an impossibility. It’s an exercise in frustration. I’ve never yet met a successful perfectionist. You can use the same energy to develop high standards and pursue excellence. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll never be satisfied, but with excellence you can be. When you know you’ve done your best, you can gain a sense of enjoyment. Use your energy to work toward becoming comfortable with the fact that things aren’t perfect and never will be. Another culprit is how you interpret the feelings you have inside. Perhaps you decide to go river rafting. As you approach the rapids and see the water churning and frothing, your heart pounds, your hands sweat, and you have difficulty breathing. What do you say to yourself? You could say to yourself, I’m terrified. I’m going to drown. They’ll never find my body. You’ll fill with fear. You’ll feel panicky. Or you could say, This is wild. It’s so exciting. What a trip! It’s okay for my heart to pound and my palms to be this sweaty. By thinking this, you’ll feel excitement rather than fear. The OCD Syndrome One of the most intense expressions of worry is OCD—obsessive-compulsive disorder. For someone with this disorder, worry seems to rule the mind like a tyrant! Certain thoughts come into the person’s mind and they can’t be evicted. The person affected with OCD has a variety of intense, unwanted thoughts that he or she is obsessed with. Sometimes the person feels compelled to do certain rituals that are supposed to keep specific consequences from occurring. It could be turning off the faucet a certain way five times, closing all the doors, lining up the papers on a desk to match perfectly, or having all the cans spaced perfectly in the cupboards—to name just a few examples. Between 1 and 3 percent of our population experience this syndrome. In a way OCD is an intensification of the fears and worries that most people experience, but for a person with OCD, these fears dominate his or her life. One of the best descriptions of this disorder was written by Judith Rapopport in her book The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing.25 Fortunately, there are various treatments available today for this disorder.26 (If you are experiencing OCD, it would be beneficial to talk with a professional counselor.) OVERCOMING WORRY AND ANXIETY Part of the solution is to first learn as much as you can about worry and anxiety. Don’t run from it, and don’t believe that it cannot be overcome. It can. Sometimes it helps to take action rather than give in to the worry. If what you are worrying about needs some action, then take some action. Immobility feeds worry just as it feeds depression. Perhaps you’ve seen films of the inside of a cockpit of a fighter plane. Most of our military planes rely upon missiles for their weaponry. In front of the pilot is a screen that shows the enemy plane. The pilot guides the flight of his or her plane in order to line it up for the missile. When the fighter is correctly lined up, the screen lights up with a “missile lock” message. The missile is locked onto that enemy plane until it’s destroyed. In the same way, worry seems to lock onto a problem and won’t let go. Then it sends an alarm signal to the front part of the brain, which analyzes the worry. The front portion sends a signal back to the worry, which says, “I’m worrying now.” The worry then becomes alarmed even more and sends a signal back to the front, and thus it goes on and on. It’s like a circuit that can’t be broken. It’s as though the worry has taken control of the brain and shuts out the rest of life around you. Positive and Negative “What ifs” Here is a simple way to tackle the “what ifs” of worry and anxiety: Just take every anxious “what if” and turn it around to make it positive. Here are some examples: Negative: What if I never get over my worry? Positive: What if I do overcome my worry? Negative: What if I forget what I’m supposed to say? Positive: What if I remember everything I want to say? Negative: What if I mess up and lose my job? Positive: What if I do all right and keep my job? Negative: What if I never get off my medication? Positive: What if I get off my medication? Negative: What if the new people don’t like me? Positive: What if the new people really like me? Negative: What if I fail the test? Positive: What if I pass the test and do very well? The negative way of thinking creates more worry and anxiety; the positive way creates anticipation, excitement, and hope. Practice turning your negative “what ifs” into positive statements: Negative: What if __________________ Positive: What if __________________ Negative: What if __________________ Positive: What if __________________ Negative: What if __________________ Positive: What if __________________ Negative: What if __________________ Positive: What if __________________ The Principle of Replacement Another way to handle your anxiety is to counter your negative thoughts. This is known as the principle of replacement. Yes, it will take time, effort, and repetition, but it will be effective. The following are some examples of typical negative thoughts and some suggestions on how you can challenge them and shift them to positive thoughts: Negative: When will I get over these panic feelings? I feel so afraid sometimes, and this drains my energy. Positive: I’m working on overcoming these panic attacks. Will these hurt me? No. I’ll just let these feelings come when they want to, and eventually they’ll go away. Negative: I feel as if my anxious feelings are controlling my life. I hate this situation. I feel stuck. Positive: So . . . it’s just anxiety. It’s no big deal. Anxiety is a part of life. I’m doing better. I’m learning to control it. I’m better this week than I was last week. It will take time, but I will conquer it with the Lord’s help. Negative: I don’t want to go anywhere today. What if I get sick? Positive: It’s okay to feel these feelings. I haven’t gone anywhere for a long time. I’m not going to be sick. I’m okay. I’ll be just fine. I’ll focus on how I can enjoy this outing. It’s never as bad as I anticipate it to be. Negative: Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to get control of my anxiety and worry. It’s like a deeply ingrained habit! Positive: Look how I’ve grown already by being able to identify the pattern. Imagine where I’ll be in six weeks or months! I’m doing well. I can thank God for the changes that have occurred in my life. Negative: Why is that person so mad at me? Did I do something? Is it something I said? Positive: I’m taking this much too seriously. I’m not a mind reader. How do I know he’s mad at me? I don’t. If he’s mad, it’s his concern, not mine. It’s up to him to tell me if it’s me. Negative: What if I try the new job and I don’t like it or don’t do well? I’d feel so upset. Positive: Trying is an accomplishment! If it doesn’t work out, at least I took the chance. That in itself is a new and positive step. Negative: These anxious feelings make me feel like I’m losing my mind. They’re so unpleasant. Positive: I know what these feelings cause. I know I’m emotional and I didn’t eat right. It isn’t worth getting anxious about it. I’ll feel better in the future.27 Challenge your own negative thoughts below:

Did you know that worry affects your sleep?

Some worrying people tend to sleep on and on as though it’s a rest from the drain of worry, but for most people worry is likely to create insomnia. The thoughts that race and tumble through your worry-filled mind interfere with your ability to relax and fall asleep.
There are other things that happen to your body when you worry. You may not be aware of them, but they are there. It takes an electroencephalogram (EEG) to show you. This test shows the brainwave differences that occur when people worry.

When you worry excessively, your brain is even more heavily impacted.

Worrying more and more about something (and I mean for hours a day, week after week) is like having a “switching station” in your brain get stuck. Remember when you have a cramp in a leg muscle and it stays and stays regardless of what you do? Well, worrying about something is like having a brain cramp that won’t let go of your worry. The more you worry, the more you cut a groove in your brain and the more worry finds a home in which to reside. That’s why other people’s suggestions of “Don’t worry” or “Just relax” won’t work
What happens if you experience a major upset in your life? Then there is even more of a biological process that occurs. Your body goes into action, sending out various hormones and other substances in its response to the trauma. This actually makes the worry “burn” itself into the brain. It really becomes attached, and your brain’s physical state changes. It can actually alter your brain’s chemistry.

WORRY AND ANXIETY

If fear and worry are first cousins, worry and anxiety have an even closer relationship. Worry and anxiety both refer to the inner turmoil we experience in fearful, stressful situations. The ancient Greeks described anxiety as opposing forces at work to tear a man apart.

We all worry; that’s a given. But many worry excessively and thus end up suffering. Their worry is more than an annoyance; it actually hinders their lives.

There is a place in our lives for legitimate fear and concern, and at times a degree of anxiety when these are related to realistic situations. Not all anxiety is bad; it sometimes has a plus side.
As Dr. O. Quentin Hyder suggests in The Christian’s Handbook of Psychiatry:
A little [anxiety] in normal amounts can enhance performance. Athletes would be unable to perform successfully without. Businessmen do better in their competitive world than they could do without its stimulus. It definitely strengthens concentration and spurs imagination, thereby producing more creative ideas. It stimulates interest and develops ambition. It protects from danger.
In its positive sense, anxiety is a God-given instinct that alerts us to fearful situations and prepares us to respond appropriately to them. But worry often takes a concern and makes it toxic. The legitimate responses form a built-in alarm system that works when needed, but worry is like a car alarm system that won’t turn off and can drive the frustrated owner up a wall!
Pastor Earl Lee illustrates the difference:
Worry is like racing an automobile engine while it is in neutral. The gas and noise and smog do not get us anywhere. But legitimate concern . . . is putting the car into low gear on your way to moving ahead. You tell yourself that you are going to use the power God has given you to do something about the situation which could cause you to fret.

Worry immobilizes you and does not lead to action, while legitimate concern moves you to overcome the problem.

There are many diseases in our world today, but worry is an old one—a disease of the imagination. It’s like a virus that slowly and subtly overtakes and dominates your life. It’s like an invading army that creeps ashore at night and eventually controls the country. When that happens, your ability to live life the way you want to is diminished. A Swedish proverb says, “Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.”
Many Scripture verses describe the effects of worry and anxiety. And many other verses reveal that a worry-free life reaps many positive rewards.
Notice the contrast in the verses that follow:
“Anxiety weighs down the heart.” —
Proverbs 12:25 KJV 1900
25 Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: But a good word maketh it glad.
“A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.” — ,
Proverbs 14:30 KJV 1900
30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: But envy the rottenness of the bones.
“A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.” — ,
Proverbs 15:13 KJV 1900
13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
“All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” — ,
Proverbs 15:15 KJV 1900
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: But he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
“A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” — ,
Proverbs 17:22 KJV 1900
22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: But a broken spirit drieth the bones.

WHY WE WORRY

What do we worry about? It would be safe to say everything.

Dr. Samuel Kraines and Eloise Thetford suggest three categories into which most worries fall:

1. Disturbing situations for which one must find a solution—for example the basics such as how to obtain money for food, lodging or medical expenses.

2. Disturbing situations over which one has no control—for example, a mother dying of cancer, a usually prompt daughter who is five hours late, or a child in active combat.

3.Unimportant, insignificant, minor problems of everyday life that warrant little attention, let alone “worry.” People “worry” about minor details of everyday life, concocting horrible possibilities and then “stewing” about them. [We worry that we’re not doing well at work, that we will be fired, and that we cannot pay our bills.] The list goes on and on. The worry is not only a feeling tone of fearfulness, but an overriding sense of futility, hopelessness and dreaded possibilities.

Worrying intensely about the possibility of some event happening not only fails to prevent it from occurring but also can actually help to bring it about.

Imagine a young seminary student waiting to preach his first sermon. He sits thinking about what he’s going to say. He begins to worry about forgetting words, stumbling over certain phrases, and not presenting himself in a confident manner. As he continues to worry, he actually sees himself making these mistakes. And then when he gets up to preach, he makes the very mistakes he worried about! His worry became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you were to tell this student that he shouldn’t have worried about his preaching, he probably would have replied, “I was justified in worrying. After all, those problems that I worried about were real problems. They happened, didn’t they? I should have been worried.” What he doesn’t realize is that by his own worry, he actually helped the mistakes he worried about occur. He was responsible for his own failure. He spent more time seeing himself fail than he did visualizing himself succeeding or overcoming his fears.
The principle here is that if you spend time seeing yourself as a failure, you’ll more than likely reproduce in your performance what you imagined. You actually condition yourself for negative performances because of your negative thinking. The classic example of this is the person who worries about getting an ulcer and in a few months is rewarded for his or her efforts with an ulcer. People who continually worry about having an accident on the freeway are very accident-prone. They are more likely to have accidents than other people because they constantly visualize such events.

However, if you spend the same amount of time and energy planning how to overcome your anticipated mistakes and envisioning your success as you do visualizing your failure, your performance will be far better.

The final results of fear, worry, and anxiety are negative, self-defeating, and incapacitating.

What do we accomplish by worrying?

Are there any positive results?

Make a list of the things you worry about; then describe specifically what the worry has accomplished—or has it created more problems?

When you worry about a problem, real or imaginary, it usually keeps you from being able to do something effective about the problem.

Worry, in other words, is a big problem in itself.

Do you enjoy worrying? Strong question? Worry seems to have a certain attraction in itself. Pain seems to grab our attention more readily than pleasure. Perhaps worrying is a bit like watching a scary horror movie: It’s kind of exciting as well as entertaining. Or perhaps when you worry, you’re getting some kind of stimulation. Your mind is engaged, locked in on a target like a heat-seeking missile.
Have you ever considered worry as a protective device? For some people it is. It’s as though the worry portion of the brain has a spasm. It just can’t seem to let go of the perceived problem and see the other side. Whatever the good news is, it’s rejected.
Those who are depressed often turn to worry. If you have an obsessive-compulsive condition, worry can feel like the waves of an ocean. You can’t seem to stop it. If you were traumatized, worry is your constant companion.

The Role of Physiology

Many individuals choose or learn to worry, but recently the role of physiology has been discovered to also be involved in worry. A study indicated that there is a gene that regulates one of the chemicals in our body called serotonin, which is believed to help maintain our feeling of well being. Some people who have this gene may have an inclination to worry, and some people who have this gene actually look for an issue to worry about, since the only time they feel complete is when they do so.
When we’re born, we come into an inheritance. In fact it’s been given to us prior to birth during the development process. It’s as though we sit through the reading of a will and discover what our inheritance is going to be. Some of what we inherit makes life fuller and easier, while some has the opposite effect.
You may have inherited the tendency to be shy. Or you may have a nervous system and structure that are high-strung. Some people have a trigger mechanism for worry that is a hair trigger; the slightest touch sets it off. Some develop this over years of practice.
Technicians wire up computers, components, and other electronic instruments in certain ways; and we are all wired in unique ways as well. When we enter this life, we have a certain set of personality traits—or wiring, as it were. Some of us are wired to be extroverts and some of us to be introverts. Some of us are methodical and structured, while others can become lost between the front door and the car.

Dr. Edward Hallowell described our condition very well:

Worries seem to inherit a neurological vulnerability that life events can then trigger. While some people are born confident, others are born insecure. While some people are born calm, others are born wired. While some people are born plunging forward, others are born holding back. You may be born with a specific characteristic or you may be born with a vulnerability to develop it later on, in the face of the stresses life usually presents.

However, before any of us say, “That’s it. That’s the reason I worry: I can’t help it. I’m genetically predisposed and predetermined to do so. Nothing I do will ever help, so why try?”

consider these factors:

1. None of us knows for sure if that is the reason at this point.

2. This predisposition is also modified by our personality and life experiences. What we experience and learn in life can have an effect on how strongly a gene may be expressed, and (here is the big factor) the expression of such a gene can be changed by experience and training.

Regardless of the reason we worry, we can learn to control its effect upon our lives. As Christians, we have the greatest opportunity to do so, because of the resources of our faith.

The Role of Genetics and Biochemistry

Anxiety was mentioned earlier, but let’s look at it further to see how it differs from worry. Anxiety is a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind tied into some impending event. It’s a response full of fear that impacts the body with responses that include sweating, muscles tensing, rapid pulse rate, and fast breathing. There is also a sense of doubt about both the reality of the threat and one’s ability to handle it.
We all experience anxiety, but when it disrupts our lifestyle, we call it an anxiety disorder. Most anxiety is self-induced, but how does it develop? In fact, it tends to run in families. There appears to be some type of genetic bent toward this tendency, just like worry. Your environment also plays a role. This could include a family member who provided a role model of being a worrier, the expectation for you to be perfect, some form of abandonment as a child, and so on.
Anxiety can be influenced by biochemistry as well. Some of the personality traits that we develop can also contribute to an anxiety disorder, including the tendency to have huge expectations as well as to need the approval of everyone. When your mind dwells on these things, your biochemistry is affected, which can then make you more prone to being anxious. We call this the adrenaline response.
When you have an adrenaline response, a signal is sent to your brain, and an alarm system is activated. Your body then secretes a hormone called adrenaline. (That’s just the beginning of the process). Your nervous system has been warned that something is wrong, that some danger may be present or possible. Then cortisol is secreted. These stimulants begin to flow through your body.
This biochemical response is not a malfunction of the central nervous system; it is a completely normal response. If a man wearing a ski mask were to burst into your home, your body would immediately respond by registering trouble. Then adrenaline and cortisol would start racing through your body. God created you with a central nervous system that is sensitive to the reception of these stimulants, and it reacts to them with the fight-or-flight response. You are now ready to either defend yourself or run away as fast as you can. Your body is prepared for survival. This is a perfectly appropriate response from a healthy, functioning body preparing to protect itself. You’re normal, and your body has gone into action. It’s on call to protect you.
Have you ever experienced getting “worked up” in your mind? You create a scenario in your thought life that is as real as life itself. Then your body responds as described above, as though you’re confronted by the intruder in the ski mask:
[Your] heart begins to pump faster, transporting oxygen to the muscles in your legs and arms. The stomach—a vulnerable center which in combat needs protection—contracts as blood moves swiftly away from it. You get a chronically upset stomach, nausea, or cramping and you think, What if I have stomach cancer? Blood rushes into the arms and legs and out of the hands and feet, the protruding limbs which are also vulnerable to being injured. Your fingers and toes become cold. They tingle and you think, What if I have multiple sclerosis? Your heart pounds so hard, you think, What if I’m having a heart attack? The blood rushes out of your head causing dizziness and you think, What if I have a brain tumor? There is nothing to be done with your overstimulated system, so it turns in on itself. You are now just a step away from panic.
Have you ever felt so anxious that you’ve been bewildered or even disoriented? You may have felt, Oh no! I’m losing my mind! I’m going crazy! You probably wanted to get rid of this bewildered feeling, because you thought it was bad. But actually that sort of feeling is a healthy response that helps you cope with the situation. If you struggle with excessive anxiety or any kind of phobias, you could experience these responses. This is your mind’s way of taking a break or mini-vacation from your emotional overload.
In a crisis or a trauma a person’s normal system shuts down and a mild state of shock goes into action. The system needs to shut down because there is too much coming at the person for him or her to handle everything. The senses can’t handle it all.
When you experience excessive anxiety the same thing happens. This is an adrenaline response. It won’t hurt you and it will go away in a few hours. Instead of focusing on your anxiety, which will produce more adrenaline, tell yourself, I’m all right; this is normal. God created my body to respond this way. This is protecting me from too much happening at once.

The Role of Personality

Now let’s consider some of the personality traits that can contribute to anxiety in our life.
Perfectionism is one culprit. I mentioned this before. Perfectionism is an impossibility. It’s an exercise in frustration. I’ve never yet met a successful perfectionist. You can use the same energy to develop high standards and pursue excellence. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll never be satisfied, but with excellence you can be. When you know you’ve done your best, you can gain a sense of enjoyment. Use your energy to work toward becoming comfortable with the fact that things aren’t perfect and never will be.
Another culprit is how you interpret the feelings you have inside. Perhaps you decide to go river rafting. As you approach the rapids and see the water churning and frothing, your heart pounds, your hands sweat, and you have difficulty breathing. What do you say to yourself? You could say to yourself, I’m terrified. I’m going to drown. They’ll never find my body. You’ll fill with fear. You’ll feel panicky.
Or you could say, This is wild. It’s so exciting. What a trip! It’s okay for my heart to pound and my palms to be this sweaty. By thinking this, you’ll feel excitement rather than fear.

The OCD Syndrome

One of the most intense expressions of worry is OCD—obsessive-compulsive disorder.

For someone with this disorder, worry seems to rule the mind like a tyrant! Certain thoughts come into the person’s mind and they can’t be evicted. The person affected with OCD has a variety of intense, unwanted thoughts that he or she is obsessed with. Sometimes the person feels compelled to do certain rituals that are supposed to keep specific consequences from occurring. It could be turning off the faucet a certain way five times, closing all the doors, lining up the papers on a desk to match perfectly, or having all the cans spaced perfectly in the cupboards—to name just a few examples.
Between 1 and 3 percent of our population experience this syndrome. In a way OCD is an intensification of the fears and worries that most people experience, but for a person with OCD, these fears dominate his or her life. One of the best descriptions of this disorder was written by Judith Rapopport in her book The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing.25 Fortunately, there are various treatments available today for this disorder.26 (If you are experiencing OCD, it would be beneficial to talk with a professional counselor.)

OVERCOMING WORRY AND ANXIETY

Part of the solution is to first learn as much as you can about worry and anxiety. Don’t run from it, and don’t believe that it cannot be overcome. It can.
Sometimes it helps to take action rather than give in to the worry. If what you are worrying about needs some action, then take some action. Immobility feeds worry just as it feeds depression.
Perhaps you’ve seen films of the inside of a cockpit of a fighter plane. Most of our military planes rely upon missiles for their weaponry. In front of the pilot is a screen that shows the enemy plane. The pilot guides the flight of his or her plane in order to line it up for the missile. When the fighter is correctly lined up, the screen lights up with a “missile lock” message. The missile is locked onto that enemy plane until it’s destroyed.
In the same way, worry seems to lock onto a problem and won’t let go. Then it sends an alarm signal to the front part of the brain, which analyzes the worry. The front portion sends a signal back to the worry, which says, “I’m worrying now.” The worry then becomes alarmed even more and sends a signal back to the front, and thus it goes on and on. It’s like a circuit that can’t be broken. It’s as though the worry has taken control of the brain and shuts out the rest of life around you.

Positive and Negative “What ifs”

Here is a simple way to tackle the “what ifs” of worry and anxiety: Just take every anxious “what if” and turn it around to make it positive. Here are some examples:

Negative: What if I never get over my worry?

Positive: What if I do overcome my worry?

Negative: What if I forget what I’m supposed to say?

Positive: What if I remember everything I want to say?

Negative: What if I mess up and lose my job?

Positive: What if I do all right and keep my job?

Negative: What if I never get off my medication?

Positive: What if I get off my medication?

Negative: What if the new people don’t like me?

Positive: What if the new people really like me?

Negative: What if I fail the test?

Positive: What if I pass the test and do very well?

The negative way of thinking creates more worry and anxiety; the positive way creates anticipation, excitement, and hope.

Practice turning your negative “what ifs” into positive statements:

Negative: What if __________________

Positive: What if __________________

Negative: What if __________________

Positive: What if __________________

Negative: What if __________________

Positive: What if __________________

Negative: What if __________________

Positive: What if __________________

The Principle of Replacement

Another way to handle your anxiety is to counter your negative thoughts. This is known as the principle of replacement. Yes, it will take time, effort, and repetition, but it will be effective.

The following are some examples of typical negative thoughts and some suggestions on how you can challenge them and shift them to positive thoughts:

Negative: When will I get over these panic feelings? I feel so afraid sometimes, and this drains my energy.

Positive: I’m working on overcoming these panic attacks. Will these hurt me? No. I’ll just let these feelings come when they want to, and eventually they’ll go away.

Negative: I feel as if my anxious feelings are controlling my life. I hate this situation. I feel stuck.

Positive: So . . . it’s just anxiety. It’s no big deal. Anxiety is a part of life. I’m doing better. I’m learning to control it. I’m better this week than I was last week. It will take time, but I will conquer it with the Lord’s help.

Negative: I don’t want to go anywhere today. What if I get sick?

Positive: It’s okay to feel these feelings. I haven’t gone anywhere for a long time. I’m not going to be sick. I’m okay. I’ll be just fine. I’ll focus on how I can enjoy this outing. It’s never as bad as I anticipate it to be.

Negative: Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to get control of my anxiety and worry. It’s like a deeply ingrained habit!

Positive: Look how I’ve grown already by being able to identify the pattern. Imagine where I’ll be in six weeks or months! I’m doing well. I can thank God for the changes that have occurred in my life.

Negative: Why is that person so mad at me? Did I do something? Is it something I said?

Positive: I’m taking this much too seriously. I’m not a mind reader. How do I know he’s mad at me? I don’t. If he’s mad, it’s his concern, not mine. It’s up to him to tell me if it’s me.

Negative: What if I try the new job and I don’t like it or don’t do well? I’d feel so upset.

Positive: Trying is an accomplishment! If it doesn’t work out, at least I took the chance. That in itself is a new and positive step.

Negative: These anxious feelings make me feel like I’m losing my mind. They’re so unpleasant.

Positive: I know what these feelings cause. I know I’m emotional and I didn’t eat right. It isn’t worth getting anxious about it. I’ll feel better in the future.

Challenge your own negative thoughts below:

Negative: __________________

Positive: __________________

Negative: __________________

Positive: __________________

Face Your Worry and Anxiety Head-on

One of the ways to deal with intense worries or anxiety is to face them head-on. The more we run from them, the larger they grow. The best way to deal with them is to face them directly. In baseball there is a guideline that infielders follow: Play the ground ball; don’t let the ground ball play you. The point is that in order to field a ground ball cleanly, there’s one step to follow: Instead of backing up and trying to predict the bounces as the ball comes to you, do just the opposite. Charge the ball, and in doing this you’ll act rather than think too much. You’ll grab the ball before you have a chance to think yourself into making an error. (You don’t want to be at the mercy of the unpredictable bounces the ball makes. This is called letting the ball play you.) How can you apply this to a worry or anxiety you have? When a worry or fear arises, don’t try to avoid the thought. Welcome it and take control of its presence. You could say to yourself, Well, here you are again. You’re a pain. I don’t like you, but I’ve dealt with you before. But this time it’s not just you and I. It’s you and I and my Lord Jesus. I’m giving you to him, and he will give me the peace I desire to banish you.

Take Little Steps

If you really are afraid of something, try exposing yourself to it a little bit at a time, until you’re comfortable with it. Years ago a woman came to see me who was deathly afraid of earthquakes. Now that’s one of the four “seasons” we have in Southern California—earthquakes. They’re kind of hard to avoid! She had been through the destructive Sylmar earthquake in the early 1970s and was traumatized by it. She worried every day that she would go through another one. She was so worried that for the past ten years she had avoided reading newspapers and listening to or watching any news programs in order to avoid hearing about any earthquakes. This did nothing but intensify her fears.
Finally she realized that this was no way to live, so she came for help. We worked together for several months. Each week we talked a bit more about earthquakes. She learned to face them, rather than run from them. She graduated from counseling after she went to the library, checked out a book on earthquakes and read it. She realized that she will experience more of these in her lifetime and will have to deal with each one when it comes. But for now, she didn’t need to worry about the next one. She faced her fear slowly and consistently, and gradually she broke the hold it had on her.

Evaluate, Plan, and Remediate

Dr. Edward Hallowell has developed an approach called EPR: evaluate, plan, and remediate.

If this becomes a habit, it can defeat the onslaught of many of your worries, because it’s an approach that turns worry into action.
It’s a form of plan-making.
I know that some personality types aren’t really into plan-making, but regardless of who we are, we can and perhaps need to do this to bring more order into our life.
Perhaps you’ve had some shooting pains in your lower back that come and go. One day they’re there; the next day they’re not. But the pattern persists for several weeks. You read a couple of articles that appear to describe the symptoms that you are having, but the outcome for the individual described was terminal cancer. After reading this, your mind takes over, because the seeds of worry were planted. Then the worry intensifies. Instead of creating misery, you could do the following:

Evaluate:

Say to yourself: This is a new condition for me. The pain is not overwhelming but annoying. I don’t like the pattern it’s developing. It doesn’t seem to be going away on its own.

Plan:

Say to yourself: I don’t know the causes or what this means. I know I avoid doctors, but the persistence of this means I need to talk to a doctor.

Remediate:

You call your doctor and make an appointment.

It sounds so simple, it’s almost insulting. You may be thinking: That’s just what I do all the time! Great, but many worriers become immobilized and never even get to the first phase, evaluate.
Here’s another one: Suppose you’ve been asked to host a meeting at your home in two days. Without thinking about what may need to be done around your house, you agreed to the meeting. Just thinking about all that has to be done, however, as well as wanting to make a good impression, your body begins to tense up and worry begins to run through your mind. You start one task, become distracted, and then go to another. Nothing is getting done, except that you’re getting more and more upset.

Instead of continuing to get upset, you could do the following:

Evaluate:

Say to yourself: It’s true. I’ve got a problem. I’ve been letting the house go and it is a mess. It’s cluttered, and the way I’m trying to solve this isn’t working. I’ve got to do something better than what I’m doing now.

Plan:

Say to yourself: All right, the people will probably be in just three rooms—the living room, bathroom, and kitchen. I’ll concentrate on those three to clean and declutter. I’ll stay in one room and one section of that room and stay until it’s done. That way I can see progress.

Remediate:

You tackle the largest room first and complete it.

Constructive Concern

Did you ever consider the idea that a form of worry could be productive? I like to call it the CC process, or constructive concern. Actually it’s a preventive to worry and anxiety. Andrew Grove, the successful CEO of Intel, a very successful company, wrote Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company. It’s a book that invites people to succeed. Grove suggests that instead of not being paranoid, being creatively paranoid is the way to succeed. He suggests that we anticipate every possible alternative, learn from it, and do something about it. So instead of ignoring your real or possible problems, you should be positive about your ability to deal with the negative.

Inventory Your Worries

Whenever worry plagues you, use some or all of the following suggestions to help you inventory your worries and plan your strategy:

1. Be sure to have your doctor give you a complete physical examination. Have him or her check your glands; check for vitamin deficiencies, allergies, and fatigue; and go over your exercise schedule,

2. Face your worries and admit them when they occur. Don’t run from them, for they will return to haunt you. Do not worry about worrying. That just reinforces and perpetuates the problem.

3. Itemize your worries and anxieties on a sheet of paper. Be specific and complete as you describe them.

4. Write down the reasons or causes for your worry. Investigate the sources. Is there any possibility that you can eliminate the source of the cause of your worry? Have you tried? What have you tried specifically?

5. Write down the amount of time you spend each day worrying.

6. What has worrying accomplished in your life? Describe the benefits in detail.

7. Make a list of the following:

(a) the ways your worrying has prevented a feared situation from occurring;

(b) the ways your worrying increased the problem.

8. If you are nervous or jumpy, try to eliminate the possible sources or irritation. Stay away from them until you learn how to react differently. For example, if troubling world events worry you, don’t watch so many newscasts. Use that time to relax by reading, working in the garden, or riding a bike for several miles. Avoid rushing yourself. If you worry about being late, plan to arrive at a destination early. Give yourself more time.

9. Avoid any type of fatigue—physical, emotional, or intellectual. When you are fatigued, worrisome difficulties can loom out of proportion.

10. When you do get involved in worry, is it over something that really pertains to you and your life, or does it properly belong to someone else? Remember that your fears or worries often may be disguised fears of what others think.

11. When a problem arises, face it and decide what you can do about it. Make a list of all the possible solutions and decide which you think is the best one. If these are minor decisions, make them fairly quickly. Take more time for major decisions.

A worrier usually says, “I go over and over these solutions and cannot decide which is best.” Look at the facts; then make yourself decide. Or ask yourself, If a friend of mine was looking at these possibilities, which would I recommend he choose and why? After you have made your decision, do not question or worry about your choice. Otherwise the worrying pattern erupts all over again. Practice the new pattern of making decisions.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the best anti-worry responses you can use. (As long as you don’t continue to worry while you are exercising!) Did you know that exercise works as an antidepressant, reduces tension, reduces frustration and anger, improves your sleep, helps your concentration, and helps keep you from being distracted? It can help improve your weight, blood pressure, and heart rate. Over the past 15 years of regular exercise, my resting heart rate went from 80 to 58. While you exercise, you can memorize Scripture, read (if you’re riding a stationary bike), or pray.

Consult a Specialist

Sometimes worry or anxiety is so intense that for a while medication is a helpful solution. It can help the anxious or worried brain put on the brakes. Medication is not a cure-all but is simply one of the several forms of treatment. It should be used only when indicated, and only a physician should be the one to prescribe it (sometimes in conjunction with a counselor or a therapist).
Wright, H. Norman. Overcoming Fear And Worry (pp. 41-90). Aspire Press. Kindle Edition.
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