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Worry Wart
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I’m related to the world’s worst or best worrier. My Aunt Marion is a precious 80-year-old who spends the majority of her life fretting about something. Our phone conversations usually sift down to her latest concerns. By the time I hang up, I’m “heavy laden” with her worries du jour.

And Aunt Marion isn’t the only senior citizen with a bad habit. A survey of 1,200 elders by *Legacy Project asked them to look back over their lives and indicate their biggest regret. “Indeed, from the vantage point of late life, many people felt that if given a single ‘do-over’ in life, they would like to have all the time back they spent fretting anxiously about the future.”

All in all, they said that worry had been a barrier to joy and contentment. Here are some suggestions they made to help stop the worry process.

Tips to Help

Tip 1: Focus on the short term rather than the long term. Eleanor, a 102-year-old, advised to avoid the long view when you’re consumed with worry and to focus instead on the day at hand. Take it one day at a time.

Tip 2: Instead of worrying, prepare. The elders saw a difference between worry and rational planning, which greatly reduces worry. What’s most wasteful is the free-floating worry after you’ve done everything you can about a problem.

Tip 3: Acceptance is an antidote to worry. In addition to focusing on the day at hand and being prepared as cures for worry, they recommended actively working toward acceptance.

Chronic worriers can’t stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with 100 percent certainty what’s going to happen. Worrying is seen as a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn’t work. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. So if you want to stop worrying, start by tackling your need for certainty and immediate answers. **

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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