How do I stop worrying about stuff?
June 7, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm very worried. Worried we won't find an apartment, worried money will run out, worried my injury will never heal, etc. How do I stop it?

I used to be able to blow off steam by working out or running, but I've been suffering from sciatica for the last few months and can't do that at the moment.

I'm more and more frustrated and it's having an effect on my relationships.

Are there any books, poems or articles that could help me put things in to perspective? Any personal anecdotes?

I just want to be happy and focus on my work and the people I love, but I can't get my mind off of all these annoying issues.

posted by mrunderhill to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Are you seeing a therapist? I get exactly this way when my anxiety gets really awful.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:59 AM on June 7, 2012

Sorry things are going poorly for you.

I don't have any books or poems to recommend unfortunately, but can give you perspective of someone who suffers from chronic orthopedic pain. It really messes with your mind, in subtle and insidious ways, and may contribute to your negativity in others areas of your life.

I hate to say it, as I usually like to stay away from drugs, but in a recent bout of pain, it wasn't until I found a pain-killer that worked (Tramadol) and let me sleep through the night, that I finally felt like I got on top other things in my life.

Otherwise, it's always helpful to try to meditate and clear a space for yourself so you can put things in perspective. But I suspect the pain's a big part of it...
posted by Jon44 at 11:01 AM on June 7, 2012

Ow, I had sciatica for a several month stint (from sitting too long while working) and it is hard because it can mess with your quality of sleep in addition to the daytime pain. I found some yoga positions helped me find postures that minimized the pressure that I was putting on the nerve. I'm so not a yoga person normally but whatever works. Make sure you take the anti-inflammatories, painkillers and whatever else might have been prescribed by your doc at the frequency Rx'd, gutting it out just prolongs the bout.

About the worrying: sometimes when I'm feeling overwhelmed and realize that I've been churning away at worrying worrying worrying I tell myself "I'm going to worry about this intensely and to the exclusion of everything else from 2 to 2:30 PM every day this week. I go as far as setting a calendar event, and exactly at 2pm I worry the heck about whatever is bugging me. Don't make lists, don't try to come up with solutions, just concentrate on worrying.

The goal actually is to worry so intently and in a focused way that you get bored of it and eventually realize "Oh man, worrying isn't solving anything, what the heck am I doing here?" Remember that feeling and the next time you catch yourself sliding into the worry loop outside of your worry appointment, sorta snap back and think "Save that for 2 pm." I mean, you know worrying is pointless, intellectually, right? But you don't know how it feels yet. This is a Stop Worrying workout, and it's taught me where that off switch is.
posted by jamaro at 11:52 AM on June 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

jamaro, i'm looking forward to trying the "save it for 2pm thing". thanks!

i'm going to physical therapy for my sciatica and it's definitely helping, i know it just takes time.
posted by mrunderhill at 11:58 AM on June 7, 2012

My advice is to form plans to deal with the issues that are worrying you and work towards solving them. Take the steps needed to ensure you find the apartment. Budget your cash and stick to it. Get these things out of the way so that any remaining anxiety you have you can deal with as an unfounded anxiety problem rather than as a reasonable life concern.
posted by srboisvert at 12:00 PM on June 7, 2012

Oh I know this one. Regular sleep, regular activity.

I have a similar issue that keeps me from that prevents me from doing my exercise go-tos, but I've really come to love walking up and down steep hills (just moved to SF!). Doing so has even improved my gait and pain levels. If your sciatica allows it, I highly recommend.

And have you tried acupuncture? I've had success with it, and the prices often aren't prohibitive for once weekly visits (especially the community places and the clinics at the schools).

Oh, and when you sit, sit on this. Takes pressure off the nerve, plus it helps builds core strength. And at times like these, core strength is what you need. ;)
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 12:05 PM on June 7, 2012

Not athletic in the least, but could you blow off steam by swimming instead?
posted by Liesl at 12:18 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds a bit hokey, but I've found keeping a gratitude journal (or in my case, rock) can be helpful. It's like worrying in reverse. I find keeping an actual journal too much of an obstacle (as it seems like a chore) but I keep a medium sized, rounded rock by my bed. Before I go to sleep I hold the rock in my hand and try to pick the *best* moment of my day. It means I run through all of the good things that happened and think of all of their positive merits. It also has the added bonus that throughout the day I am more likely to pop back into the moment and really appreciate things in a "ooh, I can use that for my best moment" sort of way. The rock is a visual reminder that I should do it, but it also adds a nice beginning/ending point for me.
posted by valoius at 12:45 PM on June 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

Let me tell you, I have had some painful injuries in my life and none of them compare to the brain-frying relentlessness of nerve pain. It never stops, you don't sleep right, it screws up the scale of all your other senses, and it kind of breaks your brain.

Jamaro's method is my absolute favorite for managing fretfulness. On bad days, I'll put an appointment on my calendar and just keep updating the notes section with the list of things I need to freak out about. It's a to do list for fussing.

Has your PT given you really really good large ice packs for home therapy? If not, ask. Daily icing was just about my only reliable relief.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:26 PM on June 7, 2012

Honestly, it sounds like you are anxious, and holding on to some thoughts in an attempt to control the outcome.

Here are some options:

1) Find a good therapist that specializes in Anxiety Disorders.

2) Read a book to help learn how to control it. This is a classic approach.

3) Look into Meditation techniques to slow your obsessing mind.

4) Look into SSRI medications.
posted by joshfeingold at 5:53 PM on June 7, 2012

it's only in uncertainty
that we're naked and alive

this is a line from the Peter Gabriel song "That Voice Again". Looking back on a life that has had its share of ups and downs the most exciting parts are rarely the ones where you are safe and financially secure - it's the parts when you don't know what the next turn will present, when one wrong move can be devastating. Of course we never appreciate these moments for what they are until the danger and uncertainty pass, that's why I keep that line running through my head whenever I find myself in moments of fear and doubt. What you are experiencing IS life, embrace it.
posted by any major dude at 8:43 AM on June 8, 2012

I have two books to recommend. I LOVE "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" but it is very hokey, so keep that in mind. "The Worry Cure" is also very good and significantly less cheesy, but somehow I don't like it quite as much.

My favorite anti-worrying tip is "day-tight compartments." You are only allowed to think of today. Not that you can't plan -- of course you can. But you can only focus on what you can do today, and try to do that as best you can. Every time I'm worried about a project, I'll think, what can I do today? and then approach it in as kick-ass a way as possible, trying not to worry about what I'm going to do tomorrow, or whether I can keep it up. Also: action kills fear! Doing ANYTHING about something you're worried about eats up the fear.
posted by caoimhe at 10:55 AM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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