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Do You Worry Too Much?

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June 22, 2021 | Published by


Worry in itself is not bad. We may worry about an upcoming meeting, test results, or a sick loved one. The problem with worry, like stress, comes when it takes over. Do you feel like you worry about everything and can’t turn it off? This blog is for you.

How Do I Know if I Worry Too Much?

How do you know if you’re worrying too much? “Normal” worry becomes excessive or harmful when it’s persistent and uncontrollable. You worry about things you can’t control, hypothetical situations, and find yourself getting anxious over worst-case scenarios. Worry has become a constant feeling and it’s interfering with your daily life. You avoid certain places or activities because of a perceived danger.

You may be experiencing physical signs of worrying too much as well. Chronic worry can leave you exhausted, irritated, and jumpy. Insomnia, headaches, stomach issues, and muscle tension can all follow excessive worry. Some of us take these negative feelings out on family and friends, which can put a strain on relationships. Worrying too much can lead to self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, or engaging in distracting behavior like zoning out on your phone or the TV.1

Why Is it So Hard to Stop Worrying?

People who experience excessive worry do not enjoy it or choose it. You may hate feeling like a worry wort day after day, but you aren’t sure how to stop or even how it started. The worry has become habitual and is fueled by beliefs—both negative and positive—you’ve internalized. Let’s go over those beliefs:

Negative beliefs about worry. These beliefs are reflections of self-awareness of the harms of worry. You may believe that your worry is going to lead to a heart attack or mental break. Or, you may feel that eventually worry will take over entirely and never stop. Though these can be positive realizations, they end up adding to your anxiety and keep the worry going. In essence, you are worrying about your worry.1

Positive beliefs about worry. Have you ever felt your worry helps you avoid trouble or prevent problems? Perhaps you’ve told yourself that if you allow yourself to worry about a problem long enough, you’ll figure out a solution? Maybe you’re convinced that worrying is actually responsible since it’s your way of not forgetting something. These positive beliefs reinforce the idea that chronic worrying serves a positive purpose.1

You may believe that your worrying helps you avoid bad things, prevents problems, prepares you for the worst, or leads to solutions. Maybe you tell yourself that if you keep worrying about a problem long enough, you’ll eventually be able to figure it out. Or, perhaps you’re convinced that worrying is a responsible thing to do or the only way to ensure you don’t overlook something. It’s tough to break the worry habit if you believe that your worrying serves a positive purpose. Once you realize that worrying is the problem, not the solution, you can regain control of your worried mind.

Here are 5 signs you may be worrying too much, along with tips to counter each.2

1 – You’re always on alert for a future threat. Anxiety and worry tend to go hand in hand. With chronic worry, chances are you’ve developed some daily anxiety as well. This puts you on constant high alert, always on the lookout for threats or danger. This type of thinking tends to overwhelm, leading you to see everything as a potential danger.

Tip to counter: Try separating the emotion of anxiety from what’s actually happening in your life. Is this a real worst-case scenario happening, or is it something built-up in your head? Do your best to separate feeling anxious with actual cause for worry. Chances are, there is nothing to worry about.

2 – You have trouble sleeping. We probably don’t have to tell you that worry, stress and anxiety affect sleep. If you’re constantly worrying, you’re not going to sleep well. A vicious cycle is created when poor sleep leads to more worry and stress, which leads to even worse sleep.

Tip to counter: Try moving your bedtime up one hour. Transform bedtime into a haven where you are safe from daily stress and worry. Leave the TV off and phone on the nightstand; screen time at night can help feed worry and make it harder to fall asleep. If you find yourself feeling guilty for resting, remind yourself that quality sleep is vital to feeling and functioning your best. Sleep is not an option, so it’s best to make the most of it.

3 – You can’t stop feeling upset. You know that weird feeling you get after an unpleasant encounter? You may feel like adrenaline is coursing through your body and you keep replaying the moment in your mind. We wonder what we could have done differently, if we responded correctly, getting worked up again as we replay the scenario. Those with chronic worry may find themselves experiencing this feeling regularly.

Tip to counter: The first thing to try is to get up and move. A short walk around wherever you are can help immensely. What you want to do here is hit the reset button. The situation, perceived or real, is over and done. Take some deep breaths as you walk. After you’ve hit the reset button, think: was the issue as bad as I thought? Was it worth getting this bent out of shape over? Chances are it was not.

4 – You feel resentful. This resentment typically stems from us wanting others to read our mind. We want them to see our worry and either worry themselves or ask us what’s wrong. This can only lead to disappointment, as it sets unrealistic expectations.

Tip to counter: Stop expecting other people to guess your needs or read your mind. Instead, try asking them for help. You don’t have to be alone in your spiral. Speak out! Say exactly what you want and when. It may seem scary, but there is great power in taking control of your communication.

5 – You often feel overcome by guilt. You request a much-deserved day off and wonder if you annoyed your boss or coworkers. You take earned credit on a project, then feel guilty for the attention. Worry and anxiety can make guilt our default emotion, leading us to see positive things through a lens of worry which devalues the good.

Tip to counter: Challenge the thought of guilt as it comes. Is this a warranted feeling, or are you dwelling on something that isn’t there? Ask yourself this question: “What do I think I owed this person, and would I expect them to give the same thing to me?” You wouldn’t get upset if someone asked you for a raise or credit where it’s due, so give yourself the same benefit of the doubt.

References:

  1. How to Stop Worrying. HelpGuide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/how-to-stop-worrying.htm#
  2. Bruce J. 5 Signs You Worry Too Much (And How to Stop). Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/janbruce/2016/06/15/5-signs-you-worry-too-much-and-how-to-stop/?sh=169a86a17c90

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