Why You Worry and 12 Ways to Deal with It

why worry reasons and how to deal with it

Hello there, worrier!

Let’s start by being honest: you have worried at least once in your life, no matter who you are. Do not worry (pun intended), however, because worrying is natural and a normal part of life. It does not discriminate based on gender, wealth, height, or any other criteria. Instead, it is a common response to stress or uncertainty that can help prepare one for dealing with potential challenges.

While this is a good thing, excessive and needless worrying can interfere with one’s daily life and sense of well-being. Unfortunately, too many people in the world do just that, consciously or otherwise.

Why You Worry

why you worry
Worry is not something to be ashamed of nor something that you need to face alone.

While everyone worries to different degrees and for various reasons, there are nonetheless shared commonalities.

Generally speaking, you worry about the future or more specifically, your future and/or those of your loved ones. This is because the future is full of uncertainties and these unknowns can cause great duress. But you would also be mistaken to think that only uncertainties cause worries, because certainties can cause worry too. It’s just the the former tends to stress people out more than the latter.

Check the list below to see if you have experienced or are experiencing any of them.

1. Worry as an Evolutionary Survival Mechanism

Throughout human history, the ability to anticipate potential dangers and threats was essential for survival. This instinctual response, rooted in everybody’s fight-flight-or-freeze mechanism, ensured that early humans were prepared to face challenges such as predators and other environmental hazards.

Nowadays, this evolutionary survival mechanism is more likely to refer to how one can put food on the table while coping with various other issues.

2. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders involve excessive and persistent worry that goes beyond what would be considered normal. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic worry about a wide range of everyday concerns, often without a clear trigger or reason. This excessive worry can significantly impact one’s daily functioning, leading to difficulties in concentration, irritability, and even trigger physical symptoms such as muscle tension.

3. Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are mental shortcuts that our brains use to process information quickly. While they are generally helpful, they can also lead to distorted thinking patterns. For example, catastrophizing involves imagining the worst-case scenario, even when it’s unlikely. Selective attention to negative information causes one to focus on threatening or negative cues thereby reinforcing worry.

4. Past Traumatic Experiences

Traumatic experiences can lead one to become hyper-vigilant and constantly on edge, expecting potential threats at any moment. This heightened state of alertness can lead to constant worry about similar situations occurring again, even if the circumstances have changed.

5. Lack of Control

We all have an inherent desire for control and predictability in our lives. When faced with situations that are beyond your control, such as certain global events or uncertain outcomes, you may experience worry as you grapple with the unpredictability of the future.

6. Perfectionism and High Expectations

Striving for excellence is definitely admirable, but perfectionism can lead to chronic worry. Setting impossibly high standards for yourself can lead to the fear of falling short of these expectations, resulting in constant concern about not meeting your lofty goals.

7. Uncertainty and Ambiguity

Humans have a natural tendency to seek clarity and predictability. When confronted with situations that lack clear information or where outcomes are uncertain, worry can arise as you attempt to anticipate and plan for all possible scenarios (which, by the way, is almost always impossible).

8. Social and Performance Anxiety

Concerns about social interactions and performance can trigger worry. Fear of being negatively judged by others can lead to anxiety in social situations. It can also happen when you are tasked with something difficult or outside your comfort zone.

9. Financial Concerns

This is a big source of worry for the majority of people on this planet and is especially true in countries where inflation has surged but income has remained relatively stagnant or declined.

10. Health Anxiety

Health-related worries can be significant, especially if you have a tendency to focus on physical symptoms and perceive them as potential signs of serious illness. The fact that more and more people are eating highly processed food only adds to the problem.

11. Life Transitions and Changes

Major life events or transitions, such as moving to a new place, starting a new job, or ending a relationship, can lead to worries about adapting to a different environment and facing new challenges.

12. Parental Concerns

If you’re a parent, then you know how having children feels as you watch and guide them in their personal development to being a positive contributor to society. This natural parental concern can sometimes become overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time being a parent.

13. Media and News Influence

Exposure to distressing news stories or sensationalized media content can amplify one’s worries, as they can make the world seem more dangerous or unpredictable than it actually is. The difficulty of separating facts from fake news only adds to one’s worry.

How to Manage Your Worries

balance your worries
The key to managing worry is to find balance in your life.

How many of the 13 situations described above can be assigned to uncertainty?

The answer: all of them.

That being said, there are strategies that you can adapt to help cope with your worries and get unstuck in life. Here are some.

1. Identify the Source(s) Of Your Worry

Try to identify the specific things that are causing you to worry. This can help you determine whether the worry is justified and find ways to address the underlying issues. Keep in mind that it makes sense to worry, if necessary, only about the things that are within your influence and not otherwise.

2. Set Aside Dedicated Worry Time

This may sound strange, but you can try setting aside a specific time each day to worry, similar to how you set aside time for sleep. During this time, write down your worries and try to come up with solutions. Writing things down can act as an escape vault. It can also help limit the amount of time you spend worrying and allow you to focus on other things the rest of the day.

3. Incorporate Mindfulness Techniques

Your mind is usally focusing on the past or the future and while doing so can be useful at times, coming back to the present moment and becoming aware of your surroundings can be highly beneficial. How? Try doing some deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and other relaxation techniques to help you manage worry and reduce stress.

4. Seek Support

Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can be a helpful way to manage worry and get perspective on your concerns. No man is an island.

5. Focus on the Present

Try to focus on the present moment and what you are doing, rather than letting your mind wander randomly. Learn to let go of the past that no longer serves you and plan, but do not fear, for the future.

6. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can all help to reduce anxiety, as can listening to music that you enjoy.

7. Exercise

Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and improve your mood. It could also provide distraction from your concerns, even if only temporarily.

8. Get Enough Sleep

Regular sleepy readers know that we have continuously emphasized the importance of quality sleep, since lack of sleep can increase worry and anxiety. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night and stick to your regular sleeping schedule even during weekends.

9. Practice Gratitude

Focusing on the things you are grateful for can help to shift your focus away from worrying to living a full and worthy life.

10. Set Realistic Goals

Setting and working towards achievable goals can help to reduce worry by giving you a sense of control and purpose. Dream big, but start small.

11. Take Breaks and Engage in Activities You Enjoy

Taking time to relax and do things you enjoy can be a great way to alleviate your worries. This can include things like going for a walk, gardening, and cooking, whether by yourself or with someone else.

12. Use Positive Self-Talk

Try to replace negative self-talk with more positive and realistic thoughts. Being overtly critical of yourself is both self-defeating and irrational.

Keep in mind that it is normal to worry from time to time, but if your worry is interfering with your daily life, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional.

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