April 29, 2020
I think my tendency to worry grew 100 fold when I became a parent. Deciding on a doctor, how and what to feed the baby, what to buy, understanding what is harmful and what isn’t. There are so many decisions to make as a parent and you want to make sure that your baby not only has the best of everything but that you don’t mess anything up. The internet doesn’t help. It provides an endless display of options from diapers, lotions, soaps, clothes, schools, shoes, etc….It is easy to get lost in the millions of opinions and options available.
A few years ago, in the middle of parenting my 3 kids, I felt as though all I ever did was worry. I approached each decision with trepidation and fear and worried about making the wrong decisions all of the time. Even after I finally made a decision, the worrying just wouldn’t stop. I was trapped in a sea of thoughts going nowhere. One day I sat down to really thing about what good it did to worry anyway.
The first thing I realized is that worrying is exhausting and time consuming. It literally will eat up hours in your day and keep you up at night. Some thoughts become repetitive and you can find yourself trying to analyze the same situation in a million different ways. Sometimes too many options can literally paralyze you. You don’t even know where to start! In the end, I learned several lessons about worrying.
- Worry doesn’t make anything happen.
- Worrying is exhausting.
- Worrying disrupts my sleep.
- Worrying does not make problems disappear.
- Worry is the synonym of inaction.
- Worry doesn’t make anything happen.
It is really only useful if it leads to action. Otherwise it is a waste of time.
This time in quarantine, is making it even harder to make decisions and move forward. This unfortunately leaves too much room for worry.
Here are some ways to decrease the amount of time that you spend worrying:
- When you are feeling worried, write down your thoughts and try to get to the core of your concerns. Just write everything that’s in your mind on a paper and try not to think too much as you write. Put the paper aside and read it a few minutes later. Seeing your thoughts on paper can sometimes help you to understand why you are actually worried. -What you write may surprise you!
- Try to focus on what you want as your end result and write a plan on how to get there.
- When a thought enters your mind reminding you to worry, acknowledge it as a thought and move on. Do not dwell on those thoughts/worries.
- If you are worried about something specific, try to learn as much as you can about the subject. Understanding something can help you make decisions.
- Find friends or people that can help you make objective decisions. Ask questions and listen with an open mind. Sometimes talking about something and listening to others opinions can help you feel that you are not alone.
- Limit how much news you listen to or watch. The news has a way of playing on repeat the same extreme circumstances over and over. The truth is that for every bad news broadcast, there is probably 10 times the amount of good news, it’s just rarely shared.
- Find the good news and read about it.
- Reach out to a friend, even it is someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. This will not only help you, but it will help them too.
So instead of spending so many hours worrying, try to focus on the present and make small decisions every day. The truth is that we are no more certain of tomorrow today than we were before this pandemic started. We just felt more confident. So as the next few days unfold, begin making decisions that will move you forward. Don’t let your mind stay stuck just worrying, it’s getting you nowhere.
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Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.