by Christy Gualtieri
For folks who suffer from worry and anxiety, waking up every day can be a very hard thing to do. Their bodies might be sore from grinding their teeth while they sleep, or with back pain from tossing and turning all night. Instead of looking forward to the day’s events, they might dread the day ahead, trying to look for possible “problems” that might arise in their schedule.
“Great – it’s raining out. There goes my easy commute; everyone drives so much slower when it’s raining.”
“Another meeting with Susan – she’ll probably think my project idea is another dud.”
“I hope the baby naps again today; it’s the third day in a row that she hasn’t, and if she doesn’t I’m going to lose my mind.”
It’s exhausting to think this way – to seek out the bad things before the good things – but for many people, it’s become such a habit that it seems strange not to. Their minds turn insect-like, with their antennae constantly searching for the bad things ahead of them, instead of the good. Sometimes people with high anxiety levels worry because they feel safe doing so. If they’re presented with a situation that they worry about, and nothing bad happens, it’s like they worried so much that they prevented the bad thing from happening; and if something bad does happen, they can tell themselves they were right to worry after all, which leads them to worry the next time.
It’s a vicious cycle, and dangerous. Studies have shown that high anxiety levels are linked to physical illness, as well as depression and other mental issues.
A friend of mine once told me that instead of worrying, I should wonder. Instead of thinking, “Today is going to be such a bad day,” I should try, “I wonder what’s going to happen today?” Something as simple as that has made a very big difference, and even though I don’t do it every day, it’s a good habit to try to instill in my life.
There are many stressors in everyday life – the society we live in can cultivate the idea that relentless work is the best kind; that money is everything; that he or she who has the most possessions rules the world. There are so many pressures to raise the “right kind” of child, to have the “right kind” of job, to live the “right kind” of life. No wonder we’re worried! Are we measuring up? Do we fit? Are we okay?
Today, let’s try to be warriors, not worriers. Let’s remind ourselves that we are good enough, just as we are; and that, come what may, be it traffic on the way to work or a rapidly approaching deadline or a sick child that needs to stay home from school, that we will be able to handle it – or find the resources to be able to do so.
Let’s try, just for one day, to look for the good in our day instead of focusing on what might be bad. Think about how you’ll feel, and if it’s a good feeling, write it down so you won’t forget. Let’s cultivate this habit of wondering, not worrying, and see where it takes us!
Until next time, be well!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!