Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at sperel@saraleeperel.com 


Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon.com.



"How To Stop Worrying" And Other Baloney


The majority of things you worry about never happen. But that’s you. Everything I worry about happens.

I think we can agree that our mothers get credited for all that’s wrong with us. And when we grow up, it’s time to stop blaming them for our problems. We need to claim responsibility for who we are regardless of our mothers’ foibles. This worrying thing? It’s all my father’s fault.

“I’ll call you when I get there, Dad,” I used to say.

“God willing.”

I heard those ominous two words even if I said, “I’ll cook tonight.” The message being - God willing we’ll still have a pulse by supper.

I am now the same as my dad. So I’ve studied the literature on worrying and here are some tips.

1. Set aside ten minutes daily for worry time and just worry then.

That’s about as feasible as setting aside just ten minutes for chocolate time.

2. Whenever you start to worry, snap a rubber band around your wrist.

I’ve done that. Now, I’m worried about using too much cortisone cream on the rubber rash.

3. Tell yourself that if there’s nothing you can do about the problem, just forget about it.

That should work the next time the blood test people call me to come back in saying, “Don’t worry. Your blood was probably mixed up with somebody’s from the morgue.”

4. Write down a contingency plan for all your “what ifs”.

If I start now, by the time I’m through, everybody I know will be dead.

5. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen?

The plane could stop flying. There, that’s better.

A big slice of my worry pie is in the hypochondriac zone. When I hear health reports on the media, I have to stick my fingers in my ears and sing show tunes. Otherwise, I develop the symptoms.  My husband, Bob, kicks me out of the room when the vet examines our cat (once I swore I had ear mites).

Last month, we were at KMart in the TV department. I heard “weightlessness, bone density loss” and in a panic, I covered my ears and belted out, “THE HILLS ARE ALIVE  . . .  WITH THE SOUND OF M-U-U-U-SIC!” 

“It’s about astronauts, you lunatic,” Bob yelled, while a shopper picked up the store phone and dialed security.

Have you heard the ad for frightened people who postpone dentist appointments? It says your hygienist can see signs of dreadful diseases, just from cleaning your teeth. And that’s supposed to make us go?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the diagnosis characterized by excessive worry. The symptoms, according to the American Psychiatric Association, must include at least three of the following:

Restlessness or edginess / fatigue /  difficulty concentrating or mind going blank /  irritability /  muscle tension /  sleep disturbance

HELLOOO  . . . . 

Call me crazy (I heard that!) but I think the APA’s been watching me and taking notes.

Lately, my Worry du Jour has been the toaster oven, which sometimes doesn’t work right. Every time we leave the house, I ask Bob, “Did you unplug it?”

“If I answer ‘yes’, you won’t believe me,” he said on this morning’s drive.

“I’ll believe you. I promise.”

“OK. Yes,” he said.

“You’re just saying that.”

“Isn’t there a Get-A-Grip group you can join?”

“Swear on the dog’s life that you unplugged it.”

He pulled over, reached into the back seat, and yanked out the toaster oven.

So, I don’t know how to stop worrying. But there is one vital and very crucial thing I will tell you.

Every moment you spend worrying is a moment you’ve lost to time. And you can’t get it back.

I’ll write again soon.

God willing.

Saralee Perel