THE WORRIED WELL
The “worried well” has a pejorative connotation. It is being used to describe a bunch of patients who are perceived by some as using health care inappropriately, when more deserving patients should be given priority. Patients who are considered the “worried well,” are more often anxious about their health and the state of the world. This is a form of mental illness and the term, “worried well,” seems like an unwarranted label. We are all part of the “worried well.” We are functioning, but we are full of anxiety and apprehension at the pandemic that has befallen us. We are in the midst of a mental health crisis brought about by COVID.
The “worried well” are unwell too. In the present pandemic, these individuals are experiencing anxiety and stress and deserve to be helped. Saying to a patient “it is all in your head,” creates further worry and concern and is a trigger for health anxiety.
But how can we turn our worrying around? We have to stop catastrophizing and spiraling out of control. Here are a few tips for keeping our worry under wraps:
• We have to make sure that we stick to “trustworthy news sources.” The CDC and The WHO and local public health authorities should be our source of news. Saying that, we shouldn’t be compulsive about updates. We should check in periodically when we need to without listening to the news 24/7 which would make the most stalwart of us become anxious. Sometimes it is best to just step away from the media for a few days and take a breather, figuratively and literally!
• Stop with the “what-ifs.” Blowing reality out of proportion will only contribute to spiraling into an eddy of anxiety.
• Breathe and meditate!
• Make sure you get enough sleep. Rest is key to reducing anxiety.
• Regular exercise can help reduce stress and thus improve one’s mood.
• Eat healthfully. Avoid loading up on junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine as it can aggravate stress, anxiety, and sleep problems.
• Set screen time limits especially at bed time!
• Keep your mind and your body active. Take up knitting, or yoga, or other calming activities. Distractions can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed unease.
• Connect with others when you feel low.
• Find purpose in helping others. By helping others, we help ourselves.
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Laurie is the author of the book The Joke’s Over You Can Come Back Now: How This Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. She can be contacted via her website: www.lauriegrad.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Laurie-Burrows-Grad-2060571070637592/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lauriegrad/