Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Parents Safety Concern

Everyone worries about things from time to time: the economy, an ill parent, safety concerns. For parents, it seems to come along even more naturally. There are endless things that a mom or dad could worry about from sunup to sundown. This can paralyze you if you let it get too big. At some point, it turns a corner. The worry either moves into something useful or it spirals into something more emotionally painful.

Here’s a case in point from my own life to demonstrate how this can work. One of my daughters has been sick way too many times this winter, including this week. I was told there wasn’t anything unusual going on, just a bad streak. As evidenced by this week’s continued problems, I’m no longer satisfied with that answer. The doctor’s answer had shut down my worry at first, but now the door is wide open again.

Here’s another thing that has kicked it up a notch. Another of my daughters is having major surgery in about three months. As I was lying awake last night spinning these worrisome thoughts in my head, it occurred to me that an untreated “loose cannon” of germs could cause some real collateral damage for my daughter who would have this surgery. It could put the whole procedure at risk if we have an unclosed loop of infectious illness going on in the same house. Not to mention, infection is the reason that some of these surgeries don’t “take” and have to be repeated. Repeat major surgery? No way, we have to do everything possible to prevent that from happening.

So now I am not only concerned for my sick daughter’s state of health, I’ve got a new and more long-term concern for my other daughter, who has a required and unavoidable period of germ vulnerability coming up. As you could imagine, this was getting pretty heavy in my mind. No surprise, I couldn’t get to sleep. The thoughts were whirling in a loop in my mind; over and over again I repeated the narration of this problem to myself. I got out of bed and did a puzzle for a while until I felt sleepy. I did get some sleep, but now the day is new and the thoughts are going again.

Here is where the worrying can turn in one of two directions. I could give in to the worrying cycle and become immersed in it. Or I could do a few things to make the situation at least seem better, if not actually make it better. This is a one-two punch approach that can make a worrisome situation more manageable.
Take Action

In this situation, an obvious choice is to get her to the doctor immediately and insist on deeper testing and such. That is what I am doing this weekend, though I do not know if we will get any answers. I had thought of this last night as I was trying to fall asleep, but there wasn’t much to do about it then. Calling and hearing the nurse echo my concern made a big difference. We’re going to take action soon and I have something clear to focus on.

Another action that I’m taking is what you are reading right now. Having an outlet of expression is helping me feel like I’m making something useful of my concerns. I’ve gotten it off my chest to a friend, my mom, and I’m now using it to maybe help another concerned parent step off the worry carousel. All of this helps me reaffirm close relationship connections and extend myself to help others. These things give me comfort and assurance, allowing my blood pressure to stay a little lower about this problem.Use Distraction

Since I can’t get my daughter in right this exact minute, I have some idle time on my hands while this process unfolds. While action and answers may deliver the biggest blow to my worries, I still need to get through this time without falling apart. Distraction is my other tool that I use.

Even though I’m writing this article about the very topic I’m worried about, the act of typing and constructing my thoughts puts my brain in a different mode than just all-emotion-all-the-time. By the genius of human evolution, human brains are only capable of truly holding attention on one thing at a time. You may think you are multitasking and giving attention to four things at once. But really, you are just vacillating back and forth between things.

Here’s why this can be helpful. When you distract from something bothersome, it takes the wind out of its sail for a little while. Constantly stewing on something can give it much greater power than if it is broken into smaller chunks . Getting lost in work for a few hours gives your brain a break from worrying about your sick child. Going for a run gets your brain focused on moving your body and breathing hard. Doing a bunch of yardwork gives you a tangible, purposeful task to put your mind to.

Could your mind occasionally wander back to your worry during this attempt at distraction? Yes, it certainly can. But even small amounts of interruption can kill the momentum of a building worry storm. During times when you can’t take meaningful action on the problem, distraction can get you through. Perhaps you will feel more relaxed and another solution will roll into your mind. Or, you will simply feel more relaxed when your mind does wander back and you can remind yourself of what you have planned to take care of it, and you can then shove it aside for a while longer.
Keep Carrying On With A Smaller Worry Load

You may not be able to carry a large load consistently, without interruption, very well without collapsing. But you can probably carry that load several times with breaks in between and have the endurance to fight another day. And certainly, if it is a problem for which there is no good solution, distraction may be your main weapon against a heavy burden of worry.

In all reality, we could go to the doctor here and come back with no good answer. Then I’ll be up against this process all over again, worry with no road to follow. It’s a process that has to be followed over and over and over again to keep rampant worry at bay. As long as I take action and use distraction, I know I’ll get through it. And I hope after following my story, you can keep your worry burden a little lower, too.

Source : Erika Krull: Everyday Health


Samuel Gultom


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