There are times, mostly nights or when I am alone, and definitely when I am exhausted, when my mind is like a ball in a box, bouncing erratically off the ceiling, walls, and floor in a never ending cycle. I can be too tired to open my eyes, but inside Worry never ceases movement. It is like a hamster cage, and I am the little hamster inside going around and around. Remembering that fear is at the heart of worry, so here are some things which work for me to help break the cycle of tedious mole-hill climbing. It may take a combination of all these techniques.

1. First, do what you can to resolve worry. Take action where possible to resolve about what you are worrying. For those fears and worries for which no action is possible, try the following ideas.

2. Identify and itemize your worries. Be specific. Pin it down. In a notebook, list your worries with a date. Once it's listed, tell yourself there is no point in stewing over it. The next day look to see if what you worried about yesterday actually occurred. Or write every worry (no matter how petty) down on paper and place it in a shoe box called your Worry Box. Then refuse to worry about what's in the box, letting God to do the worrying instead. On the box write,"Do not worry about tomorrow until tomorrow." Once a week review your Worry Box, trashing out-of-date ones. Notice how few come true and how many were resolved without any action on your part. Over time this will strengthen your thought that most worries aren't worth the time and trouble they cause.

3. Delay worry. If something won't happen until later today, tomorrow, or next month, refuse to deal with it until that future time comes. Schedule it for later.

4. Use humor. For example, pretend you are Scarlet O'Hare in "Gone With The Wind." One woman actually placed the back of her hand on her forehead while rolling her eyes upward, and then meltingly sighs, "I'll think about that tomorrow!"

5. Use imagery. Imagine worry as an animal. Shove it out of the room. Close the door. Keep it closed. Throw pillows at the door. This can release anger, too. All very satisfying!

6. Use affirmations to reinforce that you are doing everything possible and that worrying gets me nowhere...except perhaps it aids the cancer. So aloud and with gusto, repeat certain sayings, such as "I am calm and relaxed," or "I will think about real things today."

7. Use faith. It may be helpful to think about letting your higher all-powerful being handle your worries.

8. Use physical movements. Look up. No, really look up. Get your eyes off the ground and see what is around you... flowers, birds, butterflies, trees, sky, clouds. Focus on something besides yourself. Literally turn your back on it. Actually shove "it" away with both hands and turn around. The movement reminds you to ignore worry.

9. Get help from health care providers. Get a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug. There are many available, so if one doesn't work, try another. Most are not addicting.

10. Get counseling. It can be invaluable to being able to talk to a person who is skilled in listening techniques. The counselor may be able to help with resources to help solve some of your problems.

11. Talk with friends. Pick only very good safe friends who you know will listen and provide save advice and feedback. It is wise to be very choosy about whom you pick to discuss your innermost feelings. Talk to them candidly about what is really bothering you. Your friend should be able to say,"Are you sure worrying about this will help??? If not, forget it!"

12. Get some rest. Whatever you fear, things always look worse when you are tired. If you have difficulty sleeping because of anxiety, then ask for a prescription to aid in sleep. Most sleeping medicines will not produce an addiction. Lack of sleep also reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, and you can't afford to weaken it any more.

13. Learn something new. Even if you can't concentrate for long periods, pick a wildflower and identify it. Take up a hobby that you've always wanted to learn, such as painting, ceramics, piano, photography, birding, or family history. Most classes last only an hour at a time, are inexpensive, and you can participate as much, or as little as you want. No classes near you? Get a library book. Set goals for yourself. Keep yourself entertained.

14. Reach out to and/or help others. Instead of thinking about yourself, call someone. Have lunch with a friend. Volunteer. Get a part time/full time job, if it's feasible. Smile at a stranger in the grocery store or waiting room. Give a hug; get a hug!

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Updated: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 01:16:51 AM

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