Stress and Worry

By Ernest Isaacs, MFT

When you don’t have confidence in your ability to cope with events and situations, difficult feelings can arise, helplessness, anger, frustration, grief among others. Under the impact of these stressors, your body becomes tense, your heart rate goes up, hormones flow through your blood stream, and you say “I’m stressed out”. Stress even has an impact on your immune system.

Easing stress involves doing something about this body reaction. This can mean taking a walk around the block, going away for a weekend, yoga, meditation, jogging, anything that helps your body dissipate these effects. It also means taking action to resolve your stressor whenever possible, and learning to just let go if there is in reality nothing to be done.

Worry is the mind’s reaction to the sense of helplessness. You find yourself plagued by repetitive thoughts about what might happen, why things are the way they are, how you behaved, what you are going to do, what you said, what you will say, on and on and on.

Being caught in worry is like being trapped in a movie theater with the same bad film playing over and over. One way of ending the ruminations is by letting yourself really feel the emotions, difficult as they may be, that are driving the mind static. Another way is thought stopping, to say to yourself “STOP” when the head is running out of control. You can spend a few minutes imagining a box and then imagining yourself putting all the worries into the box and closing the lid.

Sharing your stress and worries with a trusted friend, can help them abate. When you can bring them under control, you can do much better at actually functioning in the situation. Worry is not preparation.