By Willie T. Ong, MD (Internist and Cardiologist)
A man consulted his doctor for his frequent pains. After thorough examination, the doctor found nothing wrong with him. Despite assurance, the man is not satisfied. He still believes something is wrong.
The man is a worrier as people around him would say. He worries about his health too much and reads all the health articles he can find. He analyzes his symptoms and checks if it fits the article he’s reading.
This man is also in constant search for the best doctor in the land, the best medicines, and the newest cures. He will try any pill his friends recommend. A little bit of ache and pain makes him fear the end is near. It is no wonder that he sleeps poorly and wakes up dejected. His mind is a well of fears and worries.
If you find yourself having the same feelings as the man I described, then you’re in luck because there is hope for you. There is a way to lessen worry and stress but it will need your determination.
Step1: Acknowledge Your Fears
First, you must understand that your fears have root causes. One could be genetic. If your parents or a close relative has this case of “nervousness,” which can manifest as emotional problems, being easily nervous, then you may have inherited this problem. So, accept that this fear is part of you and resolve to overcome or live with it. It’s not your fault, it’s genetic.
If you’re a perfectionist, a workaholic, or if you’re easily irritable with other people’s mistakes, then you have what is known as a type A personality. Having very high expectations (for example, my kid must graduate with honors, my sales must reach this much, I must always be healthy) makes you vulnerable to failure and illness.
Step 2: Adjust Your Viewpoint
You can adjust your outlook to make yourself feel better. The reason you have all these aches and pains is because you have too much stress already. You’re doing so much work and you cannot cope with it. This is your body’s warning sign telling you to slow down.
Let’s adjust your personality a bit. For the workaholics, you must lessen your expectations. If you want to earn a million pesos in a year, then be content with earning half of that. Lower your expectations in your work, your kids and yourself, and immediately the stress is reduced.
If you don’t like your job or you have problems with your boss, then think if you can still work it out with your boss. Talking about it, resolving it with your boss can be stressful at first but it’s the simplest solution. Can you accept the work stress or do you want to try another job? Both options can be stressful but you must choose what you want to do and what is best for you. A little stress is alright but not too much.
If it’s family problems you worry about, then keep things in perspective. Are you the only one with these problems? Are the children into drugs? Did your spouse have an affair? Are you the only one with these problems? Probably not. Count your blessings and hold on to these.
Step 3: Always Take The Positive Outlook
A lot of the diseases that doctors encounter have been aggravated by anger, envy and other negative thoughts. You might think, “What if I have cancer? What if doctors find something wrong with me?”
Well, let’s look at the problem another way. Stress and anger are known to be a contributing factor for heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and many illnesses. If this is so, then the opposite scenario should also be true: If you have less stress and less anger, then you can have less illness and pain, and consequently become healthier. Read the paragraph again. It’s really quite simple.
Let’s go with this argument one step further. Let’s say that you really have a medical problem, so what can we do about it? Do you think having negative thoughts and worries will solve the disease or will it just make it worse? Why not instead see it in a positive light?
Try this technique by renowned writer, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. List down your blessings on a piece of paper. For example: (1) I have a supportive family; (2) I am talented in my profession; (3) I am surrounded by good friends; (4) I have a good mind; and (5) At my age, I am healthy enough to enjoy life and help others.
Make your list. Look at it and you will realize how many blessings you have. You are not really that sick or that unlucky as you think. Looking at the positive side makes you thankful to God for all these things.
Someone once said, “The facts before us are not important. What is more important is our attitude towards these facts.” You may have some difficulties, but once you decide that you can face it, chances are you will beat it. And believe me, people will support you all the way.
Finally, these coping mechanisms I mentioned are not a quick fix. For you must work on them constantly and enthusiastically. Be positive even if others are not. Continue with your faith in God, faith in yourself and faith in others. If you work on these constantly, you will be happier and healthier.