How to stop worrying and start living in the present

A new book about men, women and mental health reveals ways to stop worry in its tracks and start living again.


Photo, Masterfile.

Longtime worrywarts (36 years and counting over here!) may be convinced that they’re doomed to see every cloud in a silver lining, but there’s increasing evidence to indicate that’s just not true. A recent article in The Guardian by Daniel and Jason Freeman, authors of The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth about Men, Women, and Mental Health, suggests that there is an effective treatment for chronic worrying — even better, it’s an all-natural method that doesn’t require the ingestion of any prescription pills.

Worry may seem like a troublesome or even amusing personality trait, but too much worrying can be bad for our mental health. Excessive worrying is correlated to depression and some anxiety disorders. It can also seriously affect a person’s joie de vivre and quality of life. As a result, more research is being conducted to help ease the chronic worrier’s pain.

According to the piece, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one method of treatment that’s showing encouraging results. CBT is a therapy that tackles negative thought patterns by challenging them. For example, people that suffer from chronic worrying are asked to notice when they’re beginning to worry excessively “to interrupt this habitual thinking style, and then try alternative ways of reacting to life’s problems,” write the Freemans.

Worriers who think it has a magical effect on the future — “If I worry hard enough nothing bad will really happen” — are asked to challenge such superstitious thinking.

One CBT exercise encourages people to try to schedule worrying. That means giving yourself only 15 minutes a day to worry. Once the time is up, it’s time to live life in the moment again.

As the authors point out, these techniques are possible to master on your own. And to those who think they’ll never be able to implement this kind of change — all I can say is don’t worry about it, just give it a shot.