Although our world contains much to worry about (more and more, it can seem), brooding and fretting are a spectacular waste of and energy. This common mental state can immerse us in a fear reaction that can result in a continuous downward spiral of anxiety. But there are practical ways to interrupt this unproductive cycle. In this dialogue with David Freudberg, physician Martin Rossman, a clinical instructor at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco, explains the nature of worry, how it often derives from subjective opinions, not objective reality; the manifold medical effects of long-term anxiety; and simple, mental techniques, from imagery to prayer, that can provide greater calmness, based on trust and clarity.
I invite people to write down all the things that they’re worried about. Get them out of their head. Just write down big things, little things, clarify what you’re worrying about. And then to sort them into basically three columns. One is things that you might potentially be able to do something about. [Second], things that you’re powerless to do something about. And then a middle column of things you’re not quite sure. You can’t tell whether you can do something about that or not. And then there are different approaches, cognitive approaches, guided imagery approaches for things in each of those columns. The things that you can’t do anything about, there are ways to think about letting go of them which are effective for some people.”
—Martin Rossman, Physician and author of “The Worry