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Last night, I found it difficult to sleep. My eyes were wide open in the darkness that filled the room, no thanks to the PHCN. I could not sleep until about 4 a.m today! Though a number of variables could have been and, in fact, were responsible, I know I had a lot on my mind. This article I received on request from the author and friend some months ago appears to bring some succour. Hope you find it useful too!

WHY WORRY?

By Ibidunni Adedeji

are you worried?

“Don’t worry, be happy” is a popular cliché that has been used over the years. Have you ever wondered why you always worry without getting results? Worry doesn’t make you become taller; neither does it make you lose weight, although if it affects your sleeping and eating pattern, it could make you lose weight. Well, that’s one advantage if you are on the heavy side.

Students worry about their academics, “that’s why they are students” you may add. They also worry about their relationships i.e. their interpersonal interactions with members of the same sex and even the opposite. Many worry about their health and many more worry about their finances. Some students are preoccupied with how to pay their fees and survive through school, while some others are into business i.e. they want to make cool money before leaving the four walls of the university.

Worry is an unhealthy emotional state of engaging oneself in chains of thoughts and images of a negative and uncontrollable nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid potential threats. People usually experience anxiety about events they cannot control or predict, or about events that seem threatening or dangerous. Imagine you have a deadline and you consider yourself presently lacking the resources with which you can meet up with the deadline, thoughts regarding the consequences of falling short could race through your mind. These thoughts could either move you to act thereby finishing up the work and meeting up as expected, or they could preoccupy you and prevent you from finishing up. Time, they say, is money and one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that worry wastes time and energy. It also changes your focus. An African proverb says, “It’s not work that kills, but worry.”

Excessive worry is what we call the “generalized anxiety disorder”. Most times worry distracts you from focussing on the solution to the problem at hand. For example when students become anxious during a test or examination or even a presentation, they may continually tell themselves that they are going to fail, or that they cannot remember the material. This thinking interferes with the brain as the speech areas of the brain that are needed to complete the test are being used for worrying. Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist says that toxic worry can be harmful to your mental and physical health. He claims it paralyses you, while good worry leads you to constructive such as taking steps to resolve the issue that is the root of your concerns.

The healthy side of this emotion is concern which is very needful in our day to day living. Concern could lead us to take precautions, plan ahead and prepare adequately for future demands without incapacitating us at present. What can I do about worry? How can I show concern without actually worrying? I can’t help it…Concern recognises the need and finds a solution while worry recognises the same need and broods over limitations to fulfilling such needs.

To deal with worry, do not worry alone; share your worries or concerns with someone else who may help you redirect your focus to the solution. Also, get adequate information about the stress arousing situation, so you avoid worrying over inconsequential matters that are simply non-existent, but are a figment of your imagination. Most of the things we worry about never happen. Another way to attack worry is to strategise, plan and act immediately those thoughts come. Do not let them reproduce. Instead, convert worry to positive thinking and anxiety to creative action.

Someone once said ninety percent of the things we worry about we have no control over, so I put it to you WHY WORRY? You could as well Trust (which is the opposite of worry) in the One who has control over everything- GOD.

*Proverbs 3:5-7.

Ibidunni studies Psychology at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.

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