Worry and Well-being: What You Need to Know

Worrying is bad for your health
Learn how to recognize if you're a worrier and what to do to disrupt your worry!

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We are in very worrying, troubling times. As the weeks have gone on, we have heard from many hive members who are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. You probably don’t need us to tell you that worrying is bad for your health. But, we don’t often acknowledge and address work-related worry properly. Read below for more on worry and what you can do to disrupt it!

What is Worry?

Worry is basically the action of talking to yourself negatively about what is to come. Whenever you are thinking about future risks, uncertainties, and threats, in a repetitive and negative fashion, you are worrying. It focuses on talking through, planning, or trying to solve problems that may have negative outcomes, as opposed to imagining a negative scene playing out. This is why it is different than rumination, which is replaying something negative that already happened.

Do you often find yourself talking through a future situation and assuming that it will go poorly? Are you planing for how to handle the worst, even if the worst hasn’t happened? Do you find yourself solving for future catastrophes, without having any indication that those catastrophes are realistic? If so, you are a worrier. The first step to disrupting worry is to recognize that you are a worrier.

Do you worry a lot?
Worry is future-focused, negative thinking. Are you a worrier?

Why Do People Worry?

Interestingly, worry-related health issues like insomnia, are exacerbated because individuals actually believe that worrying helps them to cope. Because worrying feels productive to the worrier, it can be hard to convince worriers that they would be better off letting things go. In fact, one of the main reasons people worry is that they believe that it helps them prevent negative things from happening. People also believe that worrying helps them to gain control and solve problems.

Because people think that it is useful to them, worrying is hard to shake. People often believe that their worry helps them to deal with situations they are concerned with, instead of making things worse. Do you often find yourself justifying your worrying? Or believing that your worrying is setting you up to better handle future problems? If so, the second step to decreasing your worrying is letting go of the idea that worrying is good for you. In most cases, worrying lacks positive benefits for worriers.

Worry is like anticipating waves instead of calm waters
When you are immersed in worry, it can feel like your mind is always anticipating waves instead of expecting calm waters.

What are the Impacts?

Biologically, worrying increases your heart rate and rate of breathing. Worry is also central to broader anxiety issues. Worrying can also make you less likely to see things realistically. For example, you are more likely to think that bad things are going to happen when you worry. You are also more likely to think that the outcomes of those bad things will be worse than they are. Worrying can also strengthen the impact of stressful events. This is because you are prolonging the stress process, by starting to think about negative outcomes before they happen.

If you’re worried about work the night before a workday, you might also be more exhausted the following morning. Worrying can decrease performance in stressful situations that are controllable. This means that, if you know that you’re giving a big presentation at work, worrying makes your performance decline. Further, worrying doesn’t enhance performance in uncontrollable situations. This means that if you worry about unexpected issues at work, you won’t deal with them any better than if you hadn’t spent time worrying. Overall, the impacts on performance are not positive.

So, the third tip for disrupting worry is keeping track of these negative outcomes and being aware of how worrying is impacting your life. When you start worrying, try to replace worried thoughts with a mantra that helps refocus and re-energize you. Or you may want to start a mindfulness practice that helps you to focus on the present, instead of the future. In any event, worrying about your work is generally bad for your health. Pinpointing how worry impacts you specifically can help you to figure out how to stop worrying and to feel better.

Are you a worrier? Have you ever tried to decrease your worry? What worked for you? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

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