“Don’t worry.” Those may be among the most annoying words that parents of children with special needs can hear. Of course we’re going to worry. With all the troubles our children face, with all our determination to help them, with all the stressful meetings with specialists and educators, worrying is a simple fact of life. The trick is to worry in a way that leads to a solution instead of an ulcer. Follow these tips to turn your destructive worrying into constructive worrying.
Time Required: Less time than you're spending now
- Schedule your worry time. Set a little bit of time aside each day to really indulge your worries. And then, for the rest of the day, keep any additional worrying on hold for your next session.
- Do something healthy while you worry. Make a little deal with yourself: You’ll only worry while you’re walking, or working out. That way, you’ll always have something positive to show for it in the end.
- Write your worries down. Whether it’s a journal, an informal list on a legal pad, a computer file or a weblog, anything that gets your worries out of your head and into more concrete form will help you deal with them more effectively.
- Ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen?Then think about what you would do if it does. Preparing can reduce a worry’s power over you.
- Ask yourself: What’s the best that could happen? The ideal scenario is probably as unlikely to occur as the worst-case one, but it gives you something to work toward instead of back away from.
- Get more specific. Rather than worrying about things in general, try focusing in on one topic to really concern yourself about.
- Read and research. Time you spend reading up on your worry topic will indulge the worrying part of you while also moving toward a constructive solution.
- Share your worries with others. It’s another way of getting your worries out of your head and into the light where you can examine them better. The people you talk or correspond with may be able to help or just sympathize, but you’re likely to get new insight just from the act of sharing.
- If you’re plagued by worries that are not constructive at all, de-construct them. Write them on a piece of paper and then crumple the paper, cut it into pieces, set it on fire, put it at the bottom of the garbage, or do something else that symbolizes your rejection of those worries. Repeat every day if necessary.
- Use your old worries as signposts of progress. If you’re keeping a worry journal, flip back from time to time to see what you were worrying about weeks, months or years ago. You may be surprised to see how many things are no longer issues. Check them off, cross them out, and feel the power of constructive worrying.