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Worry No More

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The Price You Pay

You worry a lot. Big deal! You’ve been doing it for the last 20 years, why not just keep going? Here’s why not…

While anxiety, worry, and stress typically don’t cause medical problems, says Ronald S. Kaiser, PhD, licensed psychologist and director of psychology at the Jefferson Headache Center, they can trigger and intensify a number of medical conditions including migraine and tension-type headaches, COPD, cardiac issues, and gastrointestinal problems. That’s enough of a reason to try to find techniques to combat worry.

What We Worry About

“Social anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety I see in my practice,” says Nina Kaweblum, LCSW, DBT-LBC™, MA, MEd, a certified DBT and trauma therapist based in Lakewood, NJ. “I also see fear about the future, fear of being hurt, fear of failure, and fear of feeling too emotional. Three things that exacerbate worry are catastrophizing, excessively reassuring oneself, and interestingly enough, becoming anxious about one’s anxiety. People think that ‘normal’ people don’t worry like this and there must be something awfully wrong with them. This thought causes its own worry cycle.”

According to my informal research (see pie chart), the four biggest worry triggers are finances, wellness of loved ones, children, and health.

The frum world has its own unique set of worries, such as finding a shidduch, doing something that might affect our shidduchim, kids going off the derech — even if the kid shows no signs of being headed in that direction — the fear of not being ‘good’ enough and getting punished for it, and the recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks.

Mrs. Miriam Gewirtzman, LCSW, of MG Counseling in Lakewood, NJ, says, “Worry about our kids’ chinuch makes us constantly afraid of saying the wrong thing. And there can be a fine line between taking our responsibilities as Torah observant Jews seriously and being anxious that we aren’t accomplishing enough. Although these fears are exclusive to our community, the treatment is the same as for any other form of anxiety.”

10 Ways to Combat Worry
Name It to Tame It

“Don’t push away your feelings. It’s important to give yourself permission to acknowledge what you’re feeling,” advises Nina Kaweblum. Crystallize in your mind what you are worried about and give it a name — is it money? Marriage? Health?

Bring in the Positive

Worry carries a sense of foreboding. It predicts failure or tragedy before it happens. “One of the things I encourage my patients to do when they’re feeling nervous,” says Ronald S. Kaiser, PhD, author of Rejuvenaging: The Art and Science of Growing Older with Enthusiasm, “is to ask themselves, ‘What can go right?’ They’re already thinking what can go wrong, and I want them to entertain the possibility that things can go right. I encourage them to think of anxiety and excitement as two sides of the same coin. If they can stop over-focusing on the internal feeling of anxiety but instead think about what will be exciting about successfully managing the thing they’re worrying about (speaking in front of a crowd, having a job interview, etc.), it can go a long way toward overcoming worrying.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 643)

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