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There are many reasons why we are likely to experience worry. From feeling frightened about a situation to fixating on negative emotions and experiences. Some people think that by worrying, they’ll never have a nasty surprise or will even eliminate a negative outcome.
There is certainly a lot for us to contend with in life, from societal pressures, families, work, relationships, and health concerns. Feelings about these factors may be rooted in past, present, or even future experiences. In the context of our busy day-to-day lives, it’s easy to see how our emotions can build-up, giving way to feelings of worry, anxiety, and trouble.
By understanding more about why we worry and what this means, we may regain some control and feel less anxious about any preoccupations on our minds. Sometimes it may be a stressful build-up of smaller situations that cause our anxiety and worry to spiral. It may be a big event that blindsides you; anything from relationship issues to bereavement and unemployment is understandably emotionally challenging.
The Impact of Worrying
Feeling worried for long periods can have physiological and psychological effects. From feelings of unease and irritability to sweating and even changes to your breathing. Prolonged worry and anxiety can release cortisol and adrenaline. Both of these are considered stress hormones and are responsible for some of the physical symptoms of worry.
Worry is defined in many ways, from anguish and uncertainty to fear and apprehension. Fixating on worries that we can’t necessarily find solutions for can be tormenting for many. This can inadvertently lead to more feelings of anxiety, and so the cycle of worry continues. If we consider how we define worry, it is often thinking of ‘unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unhappy and frightened.’ When faced with such situations, focusing on what is in your control rather than what isn’t can be helpful. Simply writing a list to establish which areas you can influence may help. This can identify where your plan of action is best placed and help you regain feelings of control.
Whether we’re fretting about actual or potential problems, the reasons why we worry can be complicated and highly individualized. It’s hardly surprising that we can feel overwhelmed when our brains continually have to deal with real and imagined issues daily. That said, a small amount of worrying can be beneficial. This ensures we adopt a precautionary approach to situations and can avert possible risk-taking behaviors. It may also help us stay alert when we’re in pressured situations such as attending a job interview, for example.
Stress and anxiety would evolutionarily have helped determine human survival. Our fear and survival response incentivized humans to take action to fix immediate problems, such as a lack of water and shelter. In this situation, the stress response would protect you, and in turn, immediately gratify you. However, as we move through life, our lives and experiences often lead us to receive rewards further in the future. For instance, we may work for weeks before receiving our salary or saving money now will benefit when we’re retired. Unfortunately, this causes further stress as our brains have not evolved to deal with this type of delayed reward environment.
How Can I Stop Worrying?
We’re not just contending with evolution and anticipating factors that may be out of our control, but individual personalities can also be more prone to feelings of worry. However, some techniques and strategies can help you cope with worry and anxiety and can help redefine the impact it is having. Some people find it helpful to introduce a form of measurement into their life to help overcome financial troubles. Tracking the money spent or measuring how much you save each month may reduce feelings of worry and anxiety. Although neither method may solve your problems, it may help you feel more in control of the situation.
When experiencing worry and anxiety, it can help find a distraction to try and prevent the same worrying thoughts from going around and around your mind. Consider reading a book when you can’t sleep or even finding a new hobby. Listening to music may also be of benefit. Sometimes you can even challenge negative self-thoughts with statements such as ‘This is difficult, but I can get through this.’
Worry can mean different things to different people, and in our increasingly busy and overwhelming lives, we can face a multitude of pressures both professionally and personally. Although 2020 has added unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress into the mix, it has also demonstrated our resilience and ability to cope in the face of global adversity. We’re learning all the time that although some situations are simply out of our control, we don’t need to suffer from worry and anxiety alone.