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Worry is made up of nagging, persistent thoughts that circle around in your head. It is “what if” statements, worst-case scenarios, and awful predictions. The act of worrying is an obsessive, habitual behavior—and one that you can give up. But before you can give it up, you must accept that the act of worrying serves no purpose.

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Worrying is stealing your energy, fatiguing your muscles and body, exacerbating your aches and pains, increasing your vulnerability to stress and infection, distracting you from the present, interfering with your sleep, inappropriately increasing or decreasing your appetite, and keeping you from more pleasurable or important tasks.

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Instead of listening to your worrisome thoughts, intervene before you get caught up in an unhealthy habit. A worrisome thought that crosses your mind is a warning signal. This signal may be appropriately alerting you to danger. In this case, the appropriate course of action is to examine the concern. First, ask yourself what is the worst that could happen? Second, ask yourself if this outcome is likely and probable? Third, ask yourself if the outcome is a real problem? Next, only if the concern is likely and presents a real problem, consider all your courses of action. Last, evaluate each course of action, and a solution that makes sense.

Realistic concern is a warning signal that you are in trouble. It’s the internal alarm system that indicates that you are indeed facing a difficult situation Remember that powerlessness is just a bad feeling. It will go away all on its own even if you do nothing to help it subside. Accept that bad feelings can’t hurt you if you accept they are necessary and temporary components of life. Think about the how many precious, happy moments you may miss because you were distracted by worry. It can also unknowingly cause a disconnect between yourself and important people or situations in your life. Think about the time when you were so deep in thought that you had no idea that your son scored a goal, your daughter shared a loving comment about you, or your boss was telling you important information about an upcoming meeting. Was that worrying worth it?

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