AUNT JOSEPHINE Do I worry too much?

WOR­RY­ING IS PART OF LIFE, BUT WHEN WE ALSO START TO SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF, IT CAN BE­COME OVER­WHELM­ING. CAN YOU WORRY AND STILL BE HAPPY?

In the Moment - - Contents -

Q“Dear Aunt Josephine, ba­si­cally, I am one mas­sive wor­rier. It’s not like I have any­thing re­ally to be wor­ried about: I’ve got a roof over my head, a job I like, a good net­work of fam­ily and friends and I’m pretty healthy. It’s not even the big things that stress me out; it could be some­thing at work, some­thing I haven’t ticked o on my to-do list, or wor­ry­ing that I might have said the wrong thing to a per­son and up­set them. Some­times, I worry even when I don’t have any­thing to worry about, which is mad­ness! My de­fault set­ting seems to be to wake up in the morn­ing feel­ing anx­ious, even when I’ve got a nice day ahead. My mum is a big wor­rier so I’ve prob­a­bly in­her­ited some of it from her, but I’m a grown woman now with a good life, so I don’t know why I feel like this. My boyfriend tells me I’m be­ing silly and that I just worry for worry’s sake – some­thing which I know is true, but just makes me feel worse.”

Wor­ried, in Kent.

A“Dear Wor­ried in Kent, it would be easy for me to say ‘Don’t worry’ to you right now, but that would be trite. You might not be liv­ing in a war-torn coun­try, but your wor­ries are per­fectly real and le­git­i­mate to you. Your boyfriend is prob­a­bly only try­ing to help, but that kind of re­sponse just di­min­ishes how we are feel­ing, and we can end up sit­ting on our wor­ries. And as most of us know, a worry left unchecked can grow into a po­ten­tial catas­tro­phe that be­comes com­pletely dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the orig­i­nal prob­lem.

Wor­ry­ing is a part of life and can be an ex­cel­lent sig­nalling sys­tem to keep us safe. And yes, some peo­ple worry more than oth­ers. In our so­ci­ety, there are per­fectly le­git­i­mate things to worry about: ill­ness, nances, jobs, friends and fam­ily. Then there are the big­ger things: the en­vi­ron­ment, the threat of war, whether Honey G will ever try and make a mu­si­cal come­back. I say that in jest, but I think it helps some­times to try and have a lighter per­spec­tive, to help dis­si­pate the fug of worry that can end up en­velop­ing you.

A long-term gen­er­alised state of wor­ry­ing is just habitual think­ing. We slip into it au­to­mat­i­cally with­out ever re­ally chal­leng­ing it. Our par­ents un­in­ten­tion­ally teach us good and bad habits when we’re grow­ing up that we ac­cept as the norm, be­cause we don’t know any bet­ter. How­ever, you don’t have to carry on the fam­ily tra­di­tion. It might be help­ful for you to look into CBT (Cog­ni­tive Be­hav­iour Ther­apy), which is re­ally good for un­pick­ing those sort of neg­a­tive thought pat­terns. The Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion for Be­havioural and Cog­ni­tive Psy­chother­a­pies (www.babcp.com) is a great start­ing point for nd­ing a quali ed CBT ther­a­pist or course in your area.

Oth­er­wise, how about keep­ing a daily worry jour­nal? It could be a good habit to get into when you rst wake up, rather than ly­ing there ru­mi­nat­ing over things. Just the act of get­ting stu out of your head and onto pa­per can be very pow­er­ful and help to sep­a­rate the ac­tual facts from imag­ined fears. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to peo­ple. If you’re wor­ried about a work is­sue, pull a col­league or your line man­ager aside. Or, ex­plain to your boyfriend that you need ve min­utes to get some stu o your chest and that (if needed), you’d ap­pre­ci­ate his in­put.

It’s easy for some­one else to tell us to stop wor­ry­ing there and then, but it’s rarely as easy as that to put it into prac­tice. It’s all about re­build­ing your re­ac­tions and thought pat­terns. To remix Bob Mar­ley’s fa­mous phrase slightly, you can worry but still be happy. It’s just a balanc­ing act to make sure we stay in charge of our wor­ries – and not the other way round.”

& au­thor, Josephine Carnegie Jour­nal­ist, life coachcoun­selling but is holds a cer­tifi­cate in holis­ticout good ad­vice. best known for giv­ing

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