Dear Susan from Worried in Wisconsin

You don't need an umbrella all the time

You don't need an umbrella all the time

Dear Susan,

I have a question…with regards to worry….I am always told that it is futile to worry about things you cannot control…and that worrying is like walking around with an umbrella in case it rains….or it’s like sitting in a rocking chair….it will give you something to do, but won’t get you anywhere….this is of course practical advice….but, unfortunately does nothing for me…I worry from the time I wake up until I am asleep at night….you name it, I worry about it….how can I stop the madness of worrying??


Worried in Wisconsin

Dear Worried,

I can relate. Here are some ideas for you to try:

Let’s start with the moment you wake up and begin worrying. Change the channel. In other words break the thought by getting up and doing something else. Or, if you have the luxury of remaining in bed, pick up a book, or turn on the TV.

Keep busy. This is the best antidote to worry. If your mind is focused on something that engages you, you will be distracted from worry. Even playing Words With Friends works for me.

Lower expectations. Highly effective people tend not to be perfectionists.

Worry is addictive, plain and simple. It hits the same pleasure center of the brain as alcohol and other addictive substances. If you are able to control your intake of other addictive substances, then you can control worry in the same way now that you know that when you worry you are feeding the urge to worry even more. Each time you catch yourself worrying, remember again to “change the channel,” break the cycle, do something else.

Make a backup list of pleasant or productive things to think about for when you catch yourself worrying. I often turn my thoughts to a blog post or article I’d like to write.

And when going to sleep at night? Use the backup list to distract yourself from worry. One thing I do sometimes to fall asleep is to mentally list my friends.

W in W, thanks for writing in. Here are some posts that might also help:

The back story:

As ideas do, it popped into my head to try a post that reads like an advice column. So I turned to Cathy, my go-to bFf (best Facebook friend), and her awesome peeps, who are willing to chat whenever I ask; for my article, Relationships: Men Speak out About Sex and More, I used several comments from them.

Do you have a Dear Susan question? If so, please submit it in the comments.

My, ahem, expertise? Hm, I’m good at divorce questions–before, during, after. On parenting, I have hindsight. Packing tips for never having to check luggage. General life style stuff: time-savers (e.g. you can cook spaghetti in a small amount of cold water), memory tricks (like how to remember whether or not you already fed the dog), living a non-stressful life despite being a worrywart.  

Full discolsure: the true identity of the worried questioner was Mary in Chicago.

Check out some of my Easter and Passover posts:

*27 Awesome Ways To Dye, Decorate And Display Easter Eggs



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