Whether in your career or personal life, it’s easy to let worry creep in. But what are the effects of worry, and are the effects of worry – worrisome? In this article, we’ll take a close look at worry, the negative side effects of worry, and how to stop worrying.
The definition of worry is a negative emotion that causes mental agitation resulting from concern for something impending or anticipated. Worry is part of Preservative Cognition, which is a term for continuous thinking about negative events in the past or future. Our worries can be broken down into two groups: those we can control and those we cannot. Most people experience short periods of worry which can be useful by inciting them to action or preventative measures. However, more times than not, worry is not a productive emotion.
Side Effects Of Worrying
Worrying is like a rocking chair. It may feel as though we are moving, but we’re actually staying in the same place and making no progress. In short, worry does nothing to resolve the concerns at hand. The side effects of worrying include both psychological and physical side effects. The psychological side effects include elevated levels of stress hormones, difficulty making decisions, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is a term for when worry gets out of control and is constant.
GAD is the most common anxiety disorder among older adults. GAD tends to run in families and can also be triggered by life-altering events such as the loss of a loved one. It can make people avoid any type of exercise or even social activity for fear of injury. Only 43% of people with GAD seek treatment. Men are especially likely to avoid seeking treatment by rationalizing their constant worry.
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How Does Worry Affect The Body?
If you’re asking, “How does worrying affect the body?” – there are many ways. The physical side effects of worry on the body include disrupted sleep, headaches, difficulty concentrating, nausea, muscle tension, exhaustion, and irritability. Chronically worried people are more likely to suffer negative effects in addition to any physiological effects, including being less confident in their problem-solving ability, less optimistic about the outcome of their problem-solving efforts, and more frustrated when dealing with a problem. What can you do when you worry too much? There are numerous strategies to stop worrying.
How To Stop Worrying
At a high level, worry is overkill. As Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher, argues, “Our fear of consequences is always worse than the consequences themselves.” We are stronger and more adaptable than we realize. One way to stop worrying is to set aside time to deal with worry. It’s a healthy use of time to cultivate emotional and physical wellbeing. Other strategies to combat worry include reflective writing, a regular exercise regime, medication, and meditation. Consistent meditation can help with worry – and the full range of emotions – because it has been shown to change the way we think by reprogramming neural pathways in the brain. Over time, this improves our ability to regulate emotions in the brain.
What occurs during meditation, and how do we worry less with meditation? Meditation gives us time and space to familiarize ourselves with the thoughts and storylines present in our minds. This helps us realize that our thoughts don’t define us because they are not reality. With this new perspective, we gain an ability to analyze our thoughts objectively and identify repetitive and unhelpful stories we tell ourselves – like things that cause us to worry. Meditation also connects us to the physical feelings around us and provides a means for coping with both worry and more intense anxiety.
For a simpler version of meditation, try mindfulness. Simply take a few minutes to focus your breath and recognize your thoughts – without engaging with them directly. Reflective writing offers another approach to combating worry. Start by making a list of worries and breaking them down into two sub-categories: things you can and cannot control. Then direct your energy toward addressing the worries you can control. For the worries that are outside your control, keep in mind that when life throws curveballs at you, your ability to deal with these situations makes you stronger. While it won’t fix your problems, it will give you a different perspective on them. Another approach is to take a large worry and break it down into smaller sections. This will help to convert the worry into an actionable “project” and give you a sense of being able to do something about it.
As the old adage goes, “Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.” We hope this article empowers you with practical tools to address worry in your life. While worry isn’t always predictable, it is possible to take a proactive posture to fight it – and even become worry-free!
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