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Our feature article in this issue is about Overcoming Worry and Anxiety Please join us for a
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Anxiety & Worry
Anxiety and worry are a normal part of everyday life for most people. Some anxiety can even be helpful when it leads to effective problem solving or preparation for the future. Physical symptoms of fear and anxiety can produce an adrenaline boost that helps you confront real danger or handle a difficult situation, such as protecting your family or meeting a deadline.
However, if you have had a recent loss or several losses in your life, you may have experienced an increase in anxiety and worry.
In addition, the recent news accounts and pictures of the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan can increase worry and anxiety if you over-identify with the victims of the tragedy and your thinking gets stuck in "what if that happens to me or my family?"
Stress Leads to Anxiety
The stresses of life such the loss of a loved one, major life changes, relationship conflict, credit card debt, unexpected car repair or doctor bills, or a family crisis all can create anxiety. Anxiety may come while we are trying to find a solution. We worry about what will happen if we can't pay the bills, or if we can't make peace with our spouse, or if something else bad happens. To some extent these types of thoughts go through everyone's mind to a greater or lesser degree on a daily basis.
Worry & Anxiety are on a Continuum
With occasional everyday stresses anxiety usually is short-lived and the mind and body eventually return to normal. However, if you are worn out from caring for a loved one through a long illness, or simply overwhelmed with the responsibilities of life after a crisis it may be difficult to recover your sense of peace and calm. If ignored, worry and anxiety can become a chronic pattern. Individuals with chronic worry may experience some or all of the following:
- Excessive and unreasonable worry over events or activities, such as work, school or health
- Excessive worry about their capacity and confidence to deal with situations or responsibilities
- Inability to stop or control their worrying
- Feelings of apprehension
- Restlessness and muscle tension
- Feeling keyed-up or on edge
- Tension headaches
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If we do not identify when worry is active in our lives, it can become a habit that gives birth to negative expectations in life. We were created for an abundant life with peace, hope and joy. The first thing we need to do is acknowledge when we are worrying so that it does not continue as an unconscious process robbing our joy.
Many people will try to distract themselves with TV, busyness, alcohol, drugs or other means, while the worry just continues on unabated in the background like a leaky faucet.
Here are some ways to intervene with worry:
1. Become conscious of the worry and acknowledge it. Pray and ask God to take the worry and give you peace.
2. Ask yourself, "Are there certain times I am more likely to worry than others?" (i.e. when its time to pay the bills, when a child is sick, when you feel a physical symptom, etc.)
3. Challenge the worry. Ask, "How likely is this to happen?" "Did it happen last time I worried about this?"
4. What is a positive thought you could dwell on instead of the worry? (i.e. Instead of worrying about not having enough, say to yourself even out loud, "I am thankful that all my needs are provided for."
5. Meditate on truths that challenge your anxiety or worry. Speak these paraphrases out loud as personal statements. Some Bible passages you may find helpful include:
- My God will supply all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
- I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (Psalm 37:25)
- God has not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
- I will not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, I will present my requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
- I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
6. It may also be helpful to talk with a loved one, friend, coach or counselor about problems you are facing.
Want More Strategies to Overcome Worry and Anxiety?
I work with people by phone and Skype to help them develop personal strategies to overcome and manage anxiety. If you struggle with worry and anxiety, and would like coaching to develop your personal Plan for Peaceful Living, give me a call at (805) 242-3569 or reply to this email and let's talk about how we could work together to find solutions.
There are more ideas on how to deal with worry at www.stages-of-grief-recovery.com. Do you have some other ideas? There is a space for you to share them so that together we can help visitors from around the world overcome worry and anxiety.
Debbra Bronstad, M.S.
Grief Recovery Specialist
PO BOX 272
Atascadero, CA 93423-0272
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