“Don’t Worry Be Happy” is not just a song, it’s excellent health advice.
Worrying excessively makes you sick! A recent British Medical Journal article notes excessive worry about health is associated with a 70% increased risk of heart disease! Does this mean the health concerns were valid or can our thoughts really control our outcomes?
Clearly myriad health benefits have been proven for those who engage in positive mind-calming strategies of mindfulness, meditation, prayer, biofeedback or meditative exercises like yoga, tai chi, or chi gung. Someone once said, “to worry is to wish for what you do not want.” My favorite book to prescribe for excessive worry is “The Four Agreements” by Ruiz. These agreements, or rules for happiness, are simple yet deceptively difficult. Never making assumptions and not taking anything personally is HARD! Set positive intentions and work on strategies for countering the A.N.T.S (automatic negative thoughts) that underlie nagging worry. Exercise, time in nature, laughter, filtering what you watch/read/listen to, and engaging in positive mind-calming strategies does wonders.
If you really struggle, work with your provider or our clinical psychologist to kick the worry habit. Worry is not only useless, it is hazardous to your health and happiness.