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Do you feel that your mind is in constant high gear; racing through an ever-growing list of things about which you worry? Do you feel like you can never rest, you are always worried about something? Your worries include the stability of your spouse’s job, what happens at your job, how your kids are doing at school, if your best friend is mad at you, if, if, if. Do you feel like the list of things to worry about is endless?
What is worry and anxiety? The English word worry comes from an Old English word meaning “strangle.” Anxiety is of Indo-Germanic origin and refers to suffering from narrowing, tightening feelings in the chest or throat. Do these words describe how you feel when you worry?
A Google search on worry verifies what you probably already know; worrying and anxiety are harmful. WebMD describes as the effect of worry:
Chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. The problem occurs when fight or flight is triggered daily by excessive worrying and anxiety. The fight or flight response causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that can be used by the body for fuel. The hormones also cause physical reactions such as difficulty swallowing, dizziness, dry mouth, fast heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle aches, muscle tension, nausea, nervous energy, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, and twitching.
Unfortunately, worry can have an impact on you in many other ways also. If you are a chronic worrier or you worry consistently, you are more prone to suppression of the immune system, digestive disorders, short-term memory loss, premature coronary artery disease, and heart attack.
You are not alone. The count is that 20% of the US population annually experience life-debilitating worry or anxiety. That is nearly 65 million people! In 2008, US doctors wrote more than 50 million prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications and more than 150 million prescriptions for antidepressants.
Are you saying great, now I have even more things to add to my worry list? Ok, now relax; there are ways to deal with excessive worry.
First, understand not all worry is bad. Proverbs 27:12a provides the guidance, “The prudent sees danger.” The Bible also provides a great example of planning; “Who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills?” (Luke 14:28) These examples look at planning for the future, working through how to handle the activities of the day. Checking the range before you leave home, asking the kids if they have lunch money before school, or making sure you have an appointment to have your car inspected; these actions are part of daily life. However, worry is excessive when your worrying stops you from moving forward. Planning and worrying are not the same thing.
Are you a planner or a worrier? If strangling describes your worrying, it is time to look for help. There are many sources for help; your doctor, your friends, a life coach or counselor.
Talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Remember the WebMD list of complications. Medication, taken wisely, can be helpful.
For some of us, talking about what worries us helps to put our worries in perspective. A friend, who has gone through it, may help you move forward through your struggles. Research shows that an exercise program can help reduce worry and anxiety. A friend may help you stick to your exercise program. Also, check out the churches in your area. Many churches have exercise programs you can attend at no cost.
Another avenue of help is finding a life coach or counselor to help you pull your worrying apart. A counselor can work with you to help you develop ways to downshift your worries to a lower gear.
There are avenues of help; you need to find the path that is best for you.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. 2 Thessalonians 3:16
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