Category Archives: Worry

Reflection: Take the Second Step: Use Your Brighter Lights

By Debbie Crinzi         

For a driver, bright lights are helpful to illuminate the road so it stands out clearly on dark nights. Road debris can be avoided.  You can see details much better with your brights. Use these lights when you don’t have a clear map for where you are going and when you sense anxiety rising. You also need them when feelings plummet and your body is tired—when emotions cloud your mind.

In the last blog we talked about turning the bright lights on. This involved relaxing your body and calming your mind. The truth is that our mind becomes our worst enemy. When problems arise, the mind creates a lot of chaos trying to out-think the problem. In order to hear even ourselves, we have to quiet the mind all the stories we are creating that increase anxiety and despair. We turn our lights on by relaxing our facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. We concentrate on our breath – breathing in and out — until only the breathing in and out occupies our brain. When sneaky thoughts filter back, set them aside and go back to focused breath. After you are able to concentrate on your breath despite stray thoughts distracting you, it is time for the next step. Now bring into your thoughts something beautiful and meaningful.


Step Two involves switching lights into brighter lights by reminding yourself that you have much to appreciate and be thankful for. Your worries are just one piece of a whole life. Take your calmed mind and focus on something beautiful or peaceful. For some people it is the image of the object of religious worship; for others, it will be a close person or a pet who is special to them; for yet others, perhaps a place such as a personal garden, the ocean or the mountains – a place representing joy and beauty. For someone else it will be saying an inspirational chant, prayer, song, or poem.

Which is it for you? Take some time right now. Choose something that makes you happy. Relive the experience in your mind, dwelling upon the things that make you smile. Acknowledge these positive memories. Surround yourself with them. Again, you are in charge of your mind. If sneaky, anxious thoughts creep in, consciously set them aside and go back to these joyful memories.

Until you take charge of your thoughts, it is difficult to think rationally without strong emotion tearing you down. You need this time of calming, then of rejoicing, before you are ready to listen to yourself reflect and work out issues and concerns. So take the time. Remember, controlling your mind instead of allowing it to control you is a habit that only occurs through practice. You don’t need to wait for crises to rain down upon you to practice. Take a moment each day to relax yourself, focus your mind on breath, and then fill your mind with happy experiences.

Take Your Life Back

26 Ways To Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken

pensivewomanThere’s an old, outdated assumption that time heals all wounds. But I believe this to be untrue. In the words of Dr. Phil, “Time doesn’t change us. It’s what we do with that time that changes us.” We are all more than capable of taking control back into our own hands when life knocks us down. It’s just a matter of doing so deliberately. Of making changes that will move us forward. Of finding a way to progress with purpose, rather than simply letting life knock us around into whoever we will become next. When you’re feeling lost and disheartened with life, here are 26 simple methods of taking your power back.

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Transform from a worrier to a warrior!

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you have an upcoming vacation you’re looking forward to? As welcoming as this break may be are you also worrying about the work, planning, and organizing that must be done before you get to plunge deep into the fun and freedom a vacation promises?

Maybe your life is on the other side of this coin. Rather than looking forward to a good moment in life perhaps you’ve recently received some unwelcome news that has you on edge. Maybe you are worrying about the unfortunate change in your physical or financial health or a shift in an important relationship.

Whether you are presently in a good swing of life right now or facing some challenges that could send you spiraling down is worry a constant companion? Are you a worrier?

canstockphoto13026221For many people, worrying is one of the habits they use in an attempt to get the illusion of control in their lives. And if worry leads a person to take necessary and effective action, then by all means continue this  strategy.

But for many people worrying may not lead to further action. Instead the person is worrying, while simultaneously wishing and hoping for the best. Too often the result for this person is increased stress, upset and tension.

My mother was a champion worrier. She worried about her children all day long who walked to and from school (this was long before helicopter parenting). She worried about adequately preparing and packing for our family camping trips. She worried about the health and well being of every member of the family. In fact, she worried so much that I began to believe that her worry was a protective shield over me. This realization came to me after my mother died and I was aware I no longer had her worry to keep me safe. For Mom, worrying was one way she let us know she loved us.

If you are a worrier consider transforming into a warrior instead!  News flash: there is a great deal in life that is out of your control. This means there is a great deal that you could worry about. What if you decided to fully embrace those things in life over which you do have control?What if you decide to face life’s unknowns, including the potential disasters, chaos and hardships as a spiritual warrior? 

A spiritual warrior, according to one definition, is a person who gains mastery over oneself. Imagine waking up each day feeling fearless, strong, and ready to persevere with all the necessary and effective action you can take for the best outcome you desire. Now that you have done what you can, as a spiritual warrior you release the need to control the outcome.

If you are a worrier, let today be the day you experiment for improved Mental Health & Happiness. Just for today practice the actions, thoughts, and feelings of a Spiritual Warrior every time you face your well honed opponent: your habitual worry. The more you practice transforming from a worrier into a warrior, the easier this will become. Eventually your mental Health & Happiness will also improve.

Laughter is the best Medicine

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

I don’t know if it’s the season of the year, my aging age group, the present zodiac constellation with everyone’s Mars in retrograde, or simply random moments coinciding, but something is going on in my world. Too many of my family and friends are experiencing challenges with their health and physical well being. For example: one friend’s husband of many years is finally recovering from a life-threatening illness. Another friend is watching her parents’ health and lives decline. Still another was in a serious accident breaking both of her ankles.

                                    A merry heart doeth good like a medicine — Proverbs 17:22

Knowing that all of the magic wands I own would not provide the immediate help or cure, instead I offer my love and support. And I continue to seek the opportunity to find humor and bring laughter.

A good laugh heals a lot of hurts — Madeline L’Engle

Several months after my father died and my mother was recovering from a heart attack I listened to the audio version of the best book for my Mental Health & Happiness: Sweet Potato Queens by Jill Conner Browne. I laughed out loud listening to the author’s sweet, mellow southern accent read the outrageous descriptions in her book. When one of my sisters was suffering from the same deep grieving I loaned her the audio book telling her she had to go to bed and listen, staying there until she had laughed out loud three times before getting up again. Our grief was still central in our lives, but the laughter had given us temporary relief and healing.

Laughter opens the lungs, and opening the lungs ventilates the spirit — Unknown

In his highly acclaimed and well known book Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins states, “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” At the time the medical community was skeptical although his readers were inspired. Now, thirty years later there are more than a few who are researching and validating Cousins’ personal discoveries.

Your body cannot heal without play.

                                    Your mind cannot heal without laughter.

                                    Your soul cannot heal without joy. — Catherine Ruppenger Fenwick

Are you facing some challenges, tough or hard times, or a moment of grief in your life right now? Perhaps it’s time for you to purposely pursue laughter. As I did research to write this blog I found a website, where I also found my smiles and laughter. There were more than a few websites and YouTube videos that can also assist if you need. laughingdog

To improve your Mental Health & Happiness for now, absorb these last two quotes.

Earth laughs in flowers — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people — Victor Borge

How do you calm yourself?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Recently I have been fortunate to spend grandma time taking care of my grandchildren, ranging in age from 9-months to 4-years, with an 18-month old in between. And if you’ve ever spent time with children you know that their days and lives are filled with moments of great joy and glee as well as moments of upset and sorrow. No one needs to be an emotionally intelligent genius to guess what emotional state a child is experiencing.

During those moments of sadness, upset and crying, I do my best to offer comfort, alleviating and relieving the source of the pain. I also add the extra grand-ma love, hugs and soothing.

What I also get to observe is how each child is learning to provide his own strategies to relax, pacify and self-soothe.

One searches for her pacifier and snuggle bunny to help ease her pain. Another squeezes his eyes shut tight until Mama comes and picks him up. The eldest now makes his grumble grouch face as he stomps about. This same boy use to grab his baby doll Jeffrey, throw himself in his bed and comfort Jeff as he comforted himself.

Learning self-regulation and self-soothing is an essential skill for good mental health and happiness. Some of us are lucky and learned how to do it early in our lives.

And some of us turned to other self-destructive strategies instead. These destructive and failed attempts toward self-regulation include drinking, drugging, over-eating or nutritional deprivation, sexing, gambling, just to name a few. Just like every other person on the planet, these folks experience pain, sadness, anger and suffering. But rather than learning how to successfully deal with the feelings to enable creative and thoughtful explorations of better strategies to get what is wanted and meet their needs satisfactorily, they choose behaviors that suppress, mask, or cover the negative feelings.

What are your self-soothing, self-regulatory strategies? Are they serving you well? Do you feel calmer, more peaceful and better able to face your problems and look for better solutions?


Or have you escaped the pain, dulled and zoned yourself out with your self-soothing choices? Are you now faced with worry and concern about your choices, adding to more woes and self-hatred?

Now is a great time to learn and add new, more effective and responsible soothing strategies. Start making a list of the strategies you know that work and give you strength and comfort. Get curious and ask family and friends what strategies they use.

Just to get you started let me give you a couple: prayer, meditation, slow and deep deliberate breaths, humming a calming song, hugging a friend, or a dog or a tree.

Your turn. . .

Take one colored square position at a time

By Dr. Nancy Buck

It’s a bad break. Something has gone wrong in your life, not what you wanted. And if that isn’t bad enough, what too many of us do making things even worse is imagine all the additional bad things that might follow:

  • You bounced a check. This will probably be followed by even more bounced checks. Now not only are you going to have to pay more bank fees, but now your credit rating is going to suffer and your ability to make your planned future big purchase will be in jeopardy! (Please note, these thoughts written in italics are only the story you’re making up in your head.)
  • Your child has received a bad grade in school. Oh no, if she isn’t doing well in this class now, what will happen when she moves onto the next higher grade level? Is she always going to be an underperformer? Maybe it’s even worse. Maybe she just can’t learn this subject. (See above for thoughts in italics.)
  • You’ve missed the bus home. Just great. Now you will probably miss your train connection so you may not even make it home. Okay, you can call your spouse to come pick you up. But what if s/he’s gone to a meeting and you can’t reach him/her? Will you be stranded and stuck for hours? Maybe you should call him/her now. But you really don’t want to hear the complaining and nagging about your being late again, blah, blah, blah.

Sometimes bad and inconvenient things happen in our lives. But do you make it worse by imagining all the next bad things that will happen? And who says these things will happen? They might happen!

Here’s my solution for improving mental health and happiness when you find yourself imagining the worst:

See yourself on the Candy Land board of your life. Ask yourself:

What color square am I presently on? The red? Am I worrying about what might happen on the gold square? Too soon. If I’m on the red square, I only need to know about the red square and the purple one to come. Once I’m on the purple square I get to learn all about the troubles and details of the purple square and some about the yellow square that’s next.

Get the idea? If life isn’t great in the moment, try to avoid making it worse by worrying about something that might or might not happen two or three squares from now.

Who knows, you might just land on a green and go up the rainbow trail avoiding all the potential perils you’re presently worrying about!

Happy Trails.

Why Worry – Be Happy

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles – by the ears, by the heels, or any other way, so you manage it. —  Mark Twain

Most of what we worry about doesn’t ever happen. One joke exclaims: “Worrying works. 90% of what I worry about never happens.”

The problem is that worrying robs you of your present moments, your current life, the joy or sorrow of ordinary moments that are your current life.

Worrying keeps you from being mentally healthy and happy.

You are not to blame. Our brain is wired to pay attention to the scary things. Our brain needed to inform our ancestors that the pretty kitty just out the cave was a lion, not a potential house pet. Thus we began worrying about potential dangers. Worrying is a way to anticipate possible dangers so we can problem-solve our way around or through the problems.

But worrying can become a bad habit. Just like your tongue seems to go to the new broken tooth in your mouth involuntarily, worrying is a thought your mind keeps going back to, over and over and over again.

The great news is that we have control over what we think about. No one can make you think of anything that you do not want to. Victor Fankl gave us the most profound example of this reality in his book Mans Search for Meaning. As a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp he realized that his captors could never control his mind or his thoughts.

If this was true for Frankl in the most severe circumstances, it can be true for you as well. But it will take vigilant practice on your part.

Step 1. Pay attention to what you are thinking about. You need to catch yourself thinking the worrying thought as it is happening:

  •             What will my future be with this diagnosis? Will I live? Will I be in constant pain?
  •             She doesn’t love me anymore. What will I do? She doesn’t love me anymore.
  •             How can we find the money to meet our obligations? Will we lose our home?

If you don’t know what your repeated worry is, start listening to your thoughts. It might help to write your worries down so you will recognize them when they chime into other thoughts taking over all the room in your head.

Step 2. Decide ahead of time what you are going to “switch to” when you find yourself going back over and over again to your worry. For some this can be a meditative image, seeing the scene with great detail in vivid colors. Or you might sing a song, especially one with up-beat lyrics. Or you might repeat a favorite affirmation, or prayer. Practice this alternative thinking now, while you are not worrying. Practice, practice and practice this some more.

Step 3. When you catch yourself worrying, “switch to” your alternative thought.

Step 4. Repeat as often and frequently as necessary.

With practice you will decrease your worrying time allowing room for other, brighter and better thoughts. You can develop a different and better mental health and happiness thinking habit.

However, for you champion worriers, you will need to keep up this practice as new worries will replace old worries that you are letting go of. You need to practice, practice, practice switching your thinking until it becomes a new habit, replacing your habit of worrying thoughts as your new touch stone.

Don’t worry. Be happy.