- Trauma And Worry
- By: Dr. Dorothy McCoy
Worry can spark action if you
worry and recognize that a plan of action is necessary-- and
you act. Under those circumstance worry is serving you well.
Worry can spark your imagination.
Sometimes having a cerebral cortex is not much fun. Imagination
can litter our internal environment with every manner of fearful
possibility. Many of the fearful possibilities do not exist outside
of our fertile imaginations. Nonetheless, they trigger the same
damaging chemical and physical changes as a actual emergency.
Physical and Chemical Changes.
When you worry, which often accompanies trauma , your body begins
to pump out an array of chemicals (such as adrenaline) that increase
the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and skeletal muscles.
Your blood also clots faster, ready to repair any injuries you
sustain in your fight or flight.
Possible Consequences of Worry and Stress
You may be all keyed up with
nothing to fight or flee and no way to turn off the stress chemicals.
You become a ticking bomb that is not allowed to explode-consequently,
you may implode. If this happens frequently or over a long period
of time, it can have a serious effect on your health.
Every system in your body is
affected by worry. In addition to raising blood pressure and
increasing blood clotting, worry can prompt your liver to produce
more cholesterol, all of which can raise your risk of heart attack
and stroke. Muscle tension can give rise to headaches, back pain,
and other body aches. Worry can also trigger an increase in stomach
acid and either slow or speed up muscle contractions in your
intestines, which can lead to stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea,
gas or heartburn.
Worry can affect your skin (rash
or itch). It can impact your respiratory system and aggravating
asthma. Growing evidence even suggests that chronic worry can
compromise your immune system, making you more vulnerable to
bacteria, viruses, perhaps even cancer.
What should I do?
Talk to someone. Talking to someone about your fears or concerns
can shine the light of reason on the products of your imagination.
Take action! When nature gave us the imagination to help us identify
potential threats, she also gave us fear to spur us to take protective
action. Make a plan and follow it through. Learn to let go. Learn
to let go. No, I did not make a mistake, at least not this time-that
statement bears repeating. In other words, this is very important.
Sometimes knowing the difference between a situation over which
you have control and one over which you have no control can help.
If there is nothing you can do -acceptance-may be the answer.
If you have a clergy person with whom to talk he or she may be
able to guide you. However, if you find that you are unable to
function, please consult your primary care physician for a referral
to a therapist. You deserve to feel well.
Think of something over which you have control or a least something
more pleasant. Do something you enjoy, perhaps with a friend.
You can also test reality with a friend. (Chou, 2000) Help someone
who truly needs it.
Work those muscles.
Exercise is an incredible way to relieve stress, burn calories,
decrease depression and work toward wellness.
Stop the worry before if has
the opportunity to take control of your emotions and thoughts.
You must work quickly and strike when you first become aware
of the negative thoughts that fuel worry. Do something: exercise,
splash cold water on your face, snap a rubber band, call a friend,
or imagine a big flashing stop sign in your minds eye.
You may want to listen to a relaxation CD or go on a mini vacation
in your mind. Whatever you choose should channel your thoughts
in another more positive direction.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
It will soon become second nature to relax, exercise, or change
thoughts, rather than doing the old counter-productive worrying.
Caution: You may want to avoid
eating or drinking alcoholic beverages to medicate the discomfort
of anxiety and worry. They can be very dangerous soothing behaviors
and as one could predict-- they do not work. The original problems
are still there--they simply have company.
Be well-- you deserve it.
© Copyright Dr. Dorothy McCoy