If You Worry You Suffer Twice

If You Worry You Suffer Twice

Worrying is an unpleasant habit of thinking many of us experience from time to time. I used to think that if I stopped worrying I wouldn’t be able to keep on top of things or make sure everything went ok. But what an illusion that is!

In reality worry thoughts simply lead us in circles, squander our time and deplete our inner cellular and creative resources. 

Researchers of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) suggest that when your brain feels it is living in a frightful world (based on the way you’re interpreting what’s happening in your life) it communicates this alarming message to the rest of your bodies cells: ‘Ready yourself body, it’s not good out here!’ (That’s literally what your brain is saying to the other cells in your body when you’re worried or fretful.)

The body then responds by producing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to help you survive the threat. And whether you’re being chased by a tiger, the taxman or the imagined fear of either of those, when the stress pathway is activated, regenerative cell building and repair processes as well as the immune system are dialled down. Not at all helpful right? 

But just think how good you could feel and how much spare time you’d have if you worried even just a little bit less? After all, sometimes the things you worry about never come true and other times the very thing you fear ends up being the start of something good. Truly, there’s no telling what gems life has in store for you in the next few moments, let alone the next few years. And so with this idea to hand, we’d all do well then to draw a line somewhere between a healthy sense of responsibility and concern for our affairs, and worrying so much you wear your body out and miss the miracle of life right before your eyes. 

Keep an eye out for worry thoughts and when you spot one affirm to yourself:

‘If I worry I’ll suffer twice’

And then bring yourself back to paying attention to whatever it is you’re doing practically in that moment.

Wellbeing Step By Step

It’s not always easy to stop fretting. After all there is such a lot to worry about in the world. Yet, with a little patience and support we can each do our best to promote positive patterns of thinking in ourselves and those close to us. Wellbeing lives on a spectrum that we move around on throughout life. Wherever you find yourself on the Wellbeing spectrum today, I think it’s always worthwhile remembering that small steps can make a big difference. What’s more, it’s always good to acknowledge positive changes when you see them — no matter how big or small. Both in yourself and in others.

Let’s celebrate your wellbeing with a few words of wisdom from Hafiz, the 13th century Persian mystic poet. 

Go for a walk, if it is not too dark. 
Get some fresh air, try to smile. 
Say something kind 
To a safe-looking stranger, if one happens by. 
Always exercise your heart’s knowing. 
You might as well attempt something real 
Along this path: 
Take your spouse or lover into your arms 
The way you did when you first met. 
Let tenderness pour from your eyes 
The way the Sun gazes warmly on the earth. 
Play a game with some children. 
Extend yourself to a friend. 
Sing a few ribald songs to your pets and plants—
Why not let them get drunk and wild! 
Let’s toast 
Every rung we’ve climbed on Evolution’s ladder. 
Whisper, “I love you! I love you!” 
To the whole mad world.

‘If It Is Not Too Dark’ by Hafiz. Translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

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