Wait To Worry: How to Deal With Anxiety

Notion or Social Theory?

The person you see in the next lane while driving, the one talking excitedly into her phone might just be me. I’ve just heard a remarkable (re-markable) phrase or story on the radio, one so thought-provoking that I simply must capture it. I am recording the phrase of the source so I can easily reference it later.

A few months ago I heard a short piece that originated from my local NPR affiliate WUNC . The gentleman being interviewed was from NC so naturally I became interested in what he would say.

senior caregiving, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.A columnist himself, Steven Petrow was speaking of his time as a cancer patient and his becoming a “consumed worrier.” Now, he said, he has arrived at a place in life where he can “Wait To Worry” about challenges. What’s that? Well, he now knows how to deal with anxiety.

Petrow spoke of the time when his cancer went into remission and he was overwhelmed by the fear that it would return. But that time taught him a philosophy that helped him cope: Wait to Worry.

Grabbing my phone I barked some phrases and the date into my recorder for safekeeping and resumed listening. Later I looked it up on the NPR website. In subsequent weeks I found my thoughts returning to this ‘Wait To Worry’ notion. What about this idea was tugging at me?

Over time I’ve learned that I should respond to reoccurring thoughts that seem to demand my attention. I read the interview transcript again.

I most definitely was relating to the fear-that-something-will-happen part, yes. I often encounter family members in the grips of what is simply fear, whether or not we recognize it or whether we identify it as such. Many of us just do not know how to deal with anxiety. Here might be a tool for NAVIGATE NC clients who are “inside the Kaleidoscope”. Family, caregivers or clients themselves, and their Advocates need all the tools we can get to make this caregiving thing work for us.

Petrow was explaining how he decided to stop worrying about stuff that hadn’t even happened yet. (Whaaa…? That goes against my Advocate-grain, I am supposed to anticipate so that I may better coach or lead).

Advocates recognize that Worry and Fear have a symbiotic relationship. Fear sets up shop and Worry does all the work. When people get stuck Advocates can intercede, right?

Back to the interview:  Petrow continues by saying that what became important for him and for us to understand is that life can be unpredictable. (Well, yeah!).  Then he adds “But I do have a plan in that way”.

Tell me more… (and let’s see if this holds water).

He said he’d taken his Wait To Worry philosophy from his health situation and applied it to other parts of his life. He encourages folks to take a look at their worry and then to use it to their own benefit. “Look, Wait, Plan”.

Follow those up with “Act” and this Wait To Worry theory could have real merit in caregiving and overcoming anxiety in general.

Here is my take on Petrow’s teaching:

  • Look at what you’re worrying about.
  • Try to understand what’s probable and what’s possible or what’s not even likely.
  • Worrying is fine if you are using the time to prepare, to make a plan.

And to this Wait To Worry theory I would add:

  • Take advantage of the opportunity to discard some unimportant things that may not truly need your attention. Remove what you can from your plate.
  • Take a few minutes to look at what is absolutely right, what you have done well, what you are doing that has worked. Always try to see the good, and the opportunity.

This could result in better focus and more control (and more peace of mind) for us caregivers. By actively participating in the process the ‘tail will no longer be wagging the dog’.

So let us be mindful of what’s going on. Let us be forearmed with foresight but not overly so. Let us keep the vision but turn our attention to our planning. We will have taught ourselves how to deal with anxiety. I will wager that peace of mind will follow.

Let us discuss the worry and shift into the plan. NAVIGATE NC helps seniors and the people who love them by way of assessment, developing options and planning. CONNECT WITH US on our website or call us now at (919) 628-4428 to schedule a free consultation.

ImageSource: BigStock.com

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