The Right Way to Worry

You have the power to control the shape and the extent of your worrying. This is the message of the smart little book, The Worrywart's Companion: Twenty-One Ways to Soothe Yourself and Worry Smart.

    Indeed, says Beverly Potter, PhD, "Worrying can be good when it serves as a mental fire drill. It makes us notice possible dangers and think out in advance plans for dealing with them.  But then you need to say, "This is all I can do right now—and you have to let it go."

    The problem with excessive worrying, Potter adds, is that the person doesn't let go. "Instead he or she gives into anxiety, which creates more anxiety, and becomes riveted on visions of catastrophe, running them over and over.  Each time, the vision is a little worse and more removed form reality."

Potter's advice for bringing yourself back to balance:
1. Set aside a time and place to worry—"a worry spot,"  so that you can start to understand: "This is how I worry, this is what I worry about—and yes, I can see I'm dong it again."

2. Learn to catch yourself and intervene by "talking to yourself the way a good friend would—Now get a hold of yourself and take a deep breath. You'll be okay."

3. Then, make a point to "soothe yourself":  ASK, "What do I need now? A warm bath? Some TV? "It's like whne you have a cold," says Potter, "You know you have to nurse yourself."

4. Stop being a perfectionist—those who always look for the flaw in any situation.  When they find it, they set off a worry cycle that makes them lose sight of their positive progress.