We all have worries that come and go from time to time. Did you know that worrying too much can really harm your health and wellbeing? Here is an excellent quote from Corrie ten Boom about worrying.
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom
We will go through what is considered excessive worrying and why we do it. We will talk about the mental and physical effects, along with how your career might be affected by out of control worrying. Most importantly, we will offer some strategies to stop excessive worrying and when it might be time to seek out treatment options.
What is Excessive Worrying?
Sometimes it is okay to worry. Worry can help a person plan or take necessary safety precautions. Excessive worry, however, can cause mental distress or physical illness. Feeling tormented by worries is a sign of chronic worrying. These worries can have a wide range, from daily events to personal relationships or even potential disasters. At this point, the habit of worrying has become irresistible and out of control.
Many mental health disorders have chronic worrying at their core. With depression, worry may take on the form of guilt. We might worry about having done something wrong or distress that someone we love might be upset with us. Anxiety also has worry at its center. We may worry about everyday things, such as driving or going to a crowded place. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is hallmarked by intrusive, uncontrollable worry.
We all worry about different things, but why we worry is pretty much the same for everyone. We believe that worry can prevent bad things from happening or decrease negative feelings such as guilt and disappointment. Worrying can also have positive effects, such as finding a better way of doing something or motivation to be productive. Worrying too much, however, can harm your mental and physical health.
What Excessive Worrying Actually Does to Us
When you worry too much, you are using precious energy to suck the life out of yourself. Chronic worrying can affect your life so much that it may unpredictably interfere with your life. These effects can include your mental and physical health, your relationships, and job performance. People who worry excessively report significantly higher anxiety than non-worriers.
These worriers also reported higher depression instances, behaved more hostilely, and showed a lower ability to focus their attention. Chronic worriers may also suffer physical effects such as fatigue, headaches, concentration problems, nausea, muscle aches, and tension. Many people who worry excessively seek out harmful lifestyle habits, such as overeating, smoking, or using alcohol and drugs.
These physical effects can cross over to affect one’s career. Intense worrying is heavily correlated with procrastination and perfectionism. We tend to procrastinate due to fear of making mistakes or not producing work up to others’ standards. Delaying starting or finishing work can seriously stall one’s career. Perfectionism is related to the amount of time you spend worrying, not so much about what you worry about. General worries are not shown to affect our work. It is the amount of time spent worrying that is harmful to our careers. Excessive worrying can be challenging to manage, but you can learn to stop worrying so much with time and practice.
How to Manage Excessive Worrying
To manage excessive worrying, we must identify if what we are worrying about is productive. As mentioned before, not all worry is bad; there is productive and unproductive worry. Productive worry accepts that some things in life cannot be controlled. Unproductive worry often comes with feelings that the worrying is somehow crucial in influencing an event’s outcome. If we know when we are engaged in unproductive worrying, it is easier to push the thought away and focus on something else.
We can learn to push away the unproductive worry by considering the logical conclusion of that worry. What is the worst-case scenario if I don’t worry about something? Perhaps the event never happens in the first place. Or perhaps it does, and it is still just as painful as if I had not worried about it at all. We cannot know how we will react or feel in unpredictable circumstances. Still, worrying is often unhelpful and only works us up.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Worrying
A method we used at Palo Alto Therapy is having our clients create a cost-benefit analysis of whatever is worrying them. The idea is that by writing down your thoughts, you are forced to think about all the pros and cons of worrying. This process gives us the ability to choose that we are not going down that path of worry in the first place, which will only suck the energy out of us for no reason.
When it Might be Time for Professional Help
No one can tell you when your worrying is at a point where you need professional help, but you likely know it in your gut. When your worrying feels like it is out of your ability to manage, it might be good to consider treatment. A therapist can teach you some effective methods of managing your worry.
A therapist should help you identify what exactly you’re worried about and help you brainstorm possible solutions to this excessive worry. After that, they should help you evaluate the answers you come up with to see which ones work the best for you and your lifestyle. After that, you and your therapist can make a solid plan to try and use those solutions. Adjustments should be welcomed and made throughout the entire process.
If you would like more information on managing worry, click on the button below to download our free anxiety eBook.