- Family and Parenting
Are You Worried About Your Family?
The Worry Quiz
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The Worry Quiz is not a standardized psychological assessment nor a professional diagnosis, rather a tool created by the author to help you determine if worry is a problem for you and your family. The results are to be looked upon as suggestions, not directives.
We worry about our families because they are important to us
The family is the source of our greatest joys as well as our deepest sorrows. The intimacy of family relationships makes them vulnerable to conflicts and difficulties. As such, we worry about our family members. We want them to have and be the best that they can be.
We worry about our financial situations, employment, aging parents, and the success of our children in school. When they are teenagers,we worry about who they are hanging out with, where they are, and what they are doing. When times are hard, we worry that we have enough to make ends meet, and how we will put food on the table.
All of these worries are part of our normal existence and lead us to to take preventative measures such as purchasing insurance, taking out loans for educational advancement, and depositing money into the bank. We teach our children what they need to know to be safe, and make sure our values are passed on to the next generation.
And yet, worry can become problematic when it starts to affect our health and the well-being of our family. Take the quiz to the right to see if your worry has reached that point. Then come back and continue reading for help in understanding worry and how to deal with it.
Worry is based upon uncertainty
Our worries are often founded on the premise that we do not know the future. The media is quick to point out the worst that can happen, and allowing ourselves to get caught up in "What if?" thinking will increase our worry. Yes, there are bad things that happen in the world, but if we focus on them, we will be filled with fear and dread.
It helps for us to differentiate between those things that we have control over and those that we do not. We are responsible for those things that happen within the walls of our own home. We can take the time to teach our family members what they should and should not do. As we do so in a spirit of love and cooperation, our children will be trustworthy, responsible people and we can depend on them to do what they have been taught.
Even then, once they leave the walls of our home, things can happen that are beyond us. We have to trust that through and with all of our teaching and training, we have given them the skills that they need to be independent from us. We cannot lock them up and keep them from going anywhere or doing anything. That would be very detrimental to their growth and development, and would be considered a form of abuse.
The best of people make mistakes, and our family members surely will, both within our home and outside of it. They will make choices that we do not like or agree with. As we work with them and teach them in love and discipline them appropriately, they will learn from these mistakes and choose more wisely in the future.
Our family members will also be affected by the choices of others. Whether extended family, friends, community members, or total strangers, there will be people who do hurtful things that affect us. Our greatest protection is the love we have for each other.
The family is the "fundamental unit of society" (see Proclamation on the Family), it is the place we turn when bad things happen. We gather our family around us and use our love to lift them up in their time of difficulty. We turn to God for help and guidance in dealing with the tragedies and unfairness of life.
Worry increases as our children get older
Our worries tend to increase as our children graduate from high school and leave home. We worry about how they will provide for themselves, who they will marry, and where they will live. We want what is best for them, and are concerned that their daily needs are being met. At the same time, there is not much we can do when they are far away from us.
We can sit around and fret and worry about them, or we can find things to do that we enjoy. Now is the time to develop a hobby, find new friends with similar interests, or to get involved with volunteer work. As we involve ourselves in the lives of others, our concerns about our grown children and their families will be reduced to a minimum.
Modern communication devices allow us to visit with them more than ever before. We can text, call, e-mail, or even video conference, if we choose to do so. Allowing our children to have their own lives independent of us if a big part of growing up, and we need to allow that to happen. We will always be their parents,
When worry affects your sleep
According to Insomnia-Free.com, it is possible to train yourself to worry during the day rather than at night. Follow the steps listed below:
- Be firm - it is necessary to tell your brain that it is all right to worry, but that you are changing the worry time from night to day.
- Set up an appointment - when you start to worry at night, get out your planner. Set up a time and place for the next day when you will think about it.
- Repeat - Whenever you start to worry again, remind yourself of your worry appointment and tell yourself that is when you will think about it, not now.
- Follow through - keep your appointment. Go somewhere by yourself during that time, think about the problem, take notes, and express your feelings.
It is not necessary to solve the problem at this point. That is not the objective, rather it is to spend time thinking about the problem and expressing your feelings to the point that when you lie down at night, you are able to rest peacefully.
When does worry become a problem?
Worry becomes a problem when it affects our personal health and well being. The following symptoms are red flags that indicate worry is an issue:
- Inability to fall asleep and stay asleep
- Frequent headaches
- Digestive disturbances
- Frequent need to "clear" the throat
- Sweating without physical activity
- Frequent urination
All of these issues stem from the increased adrenaline that comes with worry. Worry keeps the mind active and in a state of alert. Danger is perceived, therefore, the body defenses are in high gear. The body is ready to act to protect itself in the event that life is threatened. Even though there may be no "real" physical threat, the thought of possible threat becomes real based on past experience.
In order to help the body relax, there must be trust that safety will be established. In a healthy sense, worry leads to preparation. When we are faced with a big test or stressful event, worry keeps us on our toes, considering all of the options, studying, and preparing. Once the event passes, the body is able to relax and rest.
With worry, the body is in a constant state of preparation, therefore, adrenaline continues pumping through the nervous system. Digestive juices increase, saliva in the mouth increases (and its accompanying frequent swallowing or clearing of the throat), the heart pumps more rapidly, and muscles are in a state of flex.
Setting aside a time for worry limits the affects of the adrenaline rush to a particular time and place, and gives the body a reprieve from the constant stress. Thoughts are more focused during the time set aside for worry, and less likely to go off on a tangent. We are able to do what we can to help the situation rather than letting it control us.
A similar effect can be accomplished through meditation, yoga, relaxation exercises, and writing in a journal. Our time and energy are focused on the accomplishment of a goal, and we train our body to relax on command. Doing so gives us a tool we can use when we are anxious or worried. We can flex our muscles, chant a mantra, or lie down and rest at will.
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Increased faith decreases worry
It is interesting that as people age, they are more likely to believe in God. This comes from the increased need for reassurance that all will be well in spite of what is happening around us. Because our circle of influence increases as we add children and grandchildren to our world, so does the number of people for us to worry about.
In order to curb the constant thoughts about the safety and protection of our loved ones, it is necessary to put them in the hands of God, and trust that he will look out for them. As we do this, we are able to have peace in our minds and hearts. We can lie down at night, and know that they will be safe and protected.
There will still be times when things happen that we cannot help, but because we have put our faith and trust in God, and left our loved ones in his care, our anxiety for their well-being is diminished. We are able to rally friends and community members around us for increased faith and prayer in their behalf, and feel a sense of purpose in our activity.
The time will come when death robs us of the company of our loved ones, and yet, with our strong relationship with God, we are given peace and comfort. We are assured of the reality that we will see them again, and that we, ourselves, will be in their company. The closer we get to the reality of our own death, the stronger this faith becomes for us. It is the only way to find peace in this life, in spite of all that goes on around us.
Worry about our family does not have to become a controlling force in our lives, rather a catalyst to help us grow closer to our loving Heavenly Father. Indeed, we are his children and he knows our needs better than we do ourselves!