Worry and anxiety about health is common and understandable. When decisions around healthcare are delayed or uncertain, it is natural to struggle more with worry. It is important at these times to offer care and compassion to yourself and those around you.
Worry can feel like a chain of thoughts and images, often predicting bad things that might happen. It can often seem uncontrollable. It can have an effect on our body, such as muscle tension or aches and pains; restlessness and an inability to relax, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, and feeling easily fatigued. When things are beyond our control, it is also normal to feel angry and irritable. You might feel angry in general, towards yourself, or towards others.
It’s normal, and sometimes helpful, to worry. For example, worry can help to think ahead, plan and solve problems. But too much worry can take over your life, make you feel upset and exhausted, and can get in the way of things you want to do.
Here are some ideas that can be helpful:
- Write down your worries - it can help to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
- Focus on things that are within your control – often we worry about things that we cannot do anything about, or things that might (or might not) happen. Work out which of your worries you can do something about right now, and take action to solve these.
- Let go of worries that are not within your control - 'Hypothetical' worries are where we worry about something that we cannot practically do anything about right now. For example, we might think about worst case scenarios or decisions that someone else might make. These worries often start with the words “what if…”
- Look at this useful diagram (PDF) to help you decide which worries are helpful and which are not (opens in a new tab).
- Recognise letting go of worries is not easy.
- Notice the unhelpful thought – say something like “ah there is that worry about x again”.
- Practice a mindfulness exercise – this can help to let go of worry and bring your focus back to the ”here and now”. Try the exercise below, or use the links and apps for more information and guided mindfulness (audio).
- Be kind to yourself – try not to criticise or tell yourself off for worrying.
- Do something else – spend your time doing things that you enjoy, that give you a sense of achievement, or connect you with other people.
Mindfulness- “letting go”
Mindfulness takes practise. If you haven’t tried meditation before, you might notice that your attention wanders and is not easily controlled. People who practice mindfulness regularly find that it helps their ability to stay in the present moment and cope with a wide variety of feelings.
Mindfulness and Letting go - Information Sheet
Useful local NHS resources:
Useful online resources: