Worry versus Anxiety

I have a best friend who is a worrier. She worries to the point that she loses sleep from worrying. I’ve been thinking about ways I could help her with that, and since she reads my blog, I thought maybe I’d share an exercise here that I use on myself. Because, as I’m fond of saying, “Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” So here is what I do in my head, using a real-life example:

Question: What is the worst thing that could happen if you get the vaccine? Answer: I could die from it.

Question: Is that a realistic worry? Answer: No.

Question: What is the worst thing realistically that could happen if you get the vaccine? Answer: I could have the same thing that happens when I get an intramuscular shot and my arm will not only be sore but be swollen and reddened and hot.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you arm reacts like that? Answer: I will be in moderate pain for up to three days with very limited use of my arm.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you are in that kind of pain for that amount of time? Answer: I will not be able to do anything but lay down and feel sorry for myself.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you lay down and feel sorry for yourself? Answer: I will waste time that I could be using to do other things.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you waste time you could spend doing other things? Answer: Things won’t get done, plus I’ll get behind on my reading goal.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you don’t get things done or fall behind on your reading goal? Answer: To be honest, it will be like those days when my energy level is depleted to the level that I just lay around.

Question: So what is it that are you worried about… again?

See how that works? I’m still anxious about the shot and the effects of it, because I know what that pain is like and would rather not experience it, but in the scheme of things, it’s not really something I need to be worked up about so much than it consumes my thoughts and keeps me from getting rest! And as a result of this exercise, I will be at an appointment in 5 hours’ time for the first shot. Now, I’m much more anxious about the second shot because I’ve heard a myriad of different experiences from people after receiving it, but even if it puts me down for a couple of days, I already know that in the big picture, it’s not something to worry about. I don’t like being down (I had bronchitis about 7 years ago that had me in bed for two weeks) but this isn’t anything that’s going to affect my life long-term. And the pride I will feel having faced the anxiety and fear and having conquered it will bring its own reward.

So, next time you are feeling worried (especially you, bestie!), work it out this way and let go of the worry that something drastic will happen. All of your worry isn’t going to change the fact that what will be, will be!