How Do I Not Worry About a Sick Relative?

Friends and family members create a comforting support system.
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The act of worrying is often counterproductive, yet difficult to manage. People worry about a multitude of life stressors, one of the most valid being a sick relative. Helplessly witnessing the suffering of a loved one can be overwhelming, exhausting and downright painful. While it is nearly impossible to eliminate your worry for a sick relative, you can make deliberate efforts to minimize and manage it.

1 Uncontrollable Factors

No matter how much you worry, a multitude of issues are out of your control. This might not be very comforting initially, but accepting life's uncertainties will help reduce your anxiety. This acceptance cultivates the awareness that worry usually does not accomplish anything. You cannot change your aunt's cancer diagnosis, for example, and incessantly wondering about her future is likely to distract from the present moment. You may lose sight of the fact that there are options for treatment, or that her birthday is next week and that perhaps she would love to celebrate by taking a carefree trip to the beach.

2 Controllable Factors

Since the circumstances of your relative's illness can make you feel as if life is unmanageable and unfair, it is easy to forget about those things you can control. Even the simplest activities can help you reestablish some sense of control, asserts therapist Tammy Fletcher, in her article for, titled, "How to Cope When Your Loved One is Ill." These tasks might include deciding what movie to watch or what music to play. Fletcher emphasizes the importance of personal boundaries, too. These are limits that you place between yourself and the demands of others. Because you are in charge of your boundaries, you can decide when to decline other's requests and prioritize your own needs.

3 Contain Worries

Ignoring or denying your concerns can be just as harmful as being consumed by them. In his article for "Psychology Today" titled, "10 Tips to Manage Your Worrying," psychology professor and expert in anxiety Graham C.L. Davey suggests finding a balance between these extremes. One way to do this is to regularly set aside time for processing your feelings. You can take time to think after school, for instance, or before work. Recording your stressors in a journal can be a helpful way to process them. By temporarily submerging yourself in your worrisome thoughts, you may be better able to set them aside and focus on other things later.

4 Self-Care

Taking good care of yourself keeps you as physically and as emotionally healthy as possible, which can help you effectively and efficiently manage your worries. This means getting adequate exercise, nutrition and rest, as well as implementing a daily routine, according to a resource available via Framingham State University's Counseling Center, titled, "10 Tips for Managing Worry." Self-care also means taking time to do the things you enjoy. Allow yourself to go for a walk, take a bath, read a book or see a movie to relieve stress. If your worries persist or increase, consider working with a counselor or therapist to learn more self-care techniques.

Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.