June 8, 2016 I WORRY ALL THE TIME!!! Hi Brandon! I doubt myself all the time. I doubt that I studied enough for the science test. I doubt whether or not my friends are true friends. I feel like I might let someone down. My school talent show is in a couple of days and my friends and I are dancing, but I feel like I’m going to let them down and they’ll blame me. These thoughts haunt me everyday. No one realizes how much I doubt myself and how much I worry. Should I tell someone? Am I being a brat? Do I need a doctor? Please answer, I really need advice. Doubting Myself Hi there. Thanks for being so honest. Your letter really stood out to me when I read it, because that sounds like a really stressful way to be! I didn’t answer right away, though, because I wasn’t sure what to say. I wanted to think about it. I didn’t want to tell you something that was wrong. Then one day I was at the library and I saw a book called WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WORRY TOO MUCH: A KID’S GUIDE TO OVERCOMING ANXIETY by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D. It made me think of you, so I checked it out. First of all, I think you should maybe see if your library has this book, too. It really helped me deal with worrying. Here are a few of the things I learned: Some worries make sense to everyone (A tornado is heading straight for you! Your mom is having surgery!), but even the worries that other people might say are “no big deal” feel real to you. So whether other people understand or not, it’s still a real feeling you have to deal with. When you get caught up in a worry—like worrying that you might mess up and let your friends down in the talent show—try not to get caught up in what might happen. Think instead about what’s really true. Does worrying about what might happen help you in any way? No? Then focus on the things that are for sure. When something is worrying you, make a plan to help yourself feel calmer and less worried. If you’re worried about an upcoming test, make a study plan. Prepare what you’ll do if you get to a question on the test that you don’t know the answer to. (Maybe you’ll close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Maybe you’ll take a minute to think about a happy memory. Whatever might relax you.) Set aside a time in your day just for worrying. This sounds weird – you want to worry less, right? But the book explains it really well. If you pick a certain 15 minutes in the day as Worry Time, it can really help. In that time, you sit with your mom or dad and talk to them about all your worries, big and small. Their only job is to listen. If you think of a worry at any other time of the day, you remind yourself that you can talk about it at Worry Time, but until then you need to set it aside. Imagine the voice in your head that makes you worry as a bully. You can even give it a name, or draw a picture of it. Then, when it starts jabbering in your ear, talk back to it. (Maybe not out loud. Because then you might worry what other people are going to hear you!) That worry bully wants attention, but if you don’t give it power, it will give up. Get good sleep and plenty of exercise. I know this is kind of annoying advice that’s handed out for pretty much every problem there is. But it’s true – and the book explains how not getting enough sleep or enough exercise can cause your brain to have more worries in the day. I hope some of those things help. I’m not a doctor – just a kid who read a book. So, if you can’t stop worrying, I really think you should talk to your parents about it and you guys can decide together what to do next. I really hope you’re feeling better soon! How do you guys handle worry and stress?