verb: to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. Rumination and anxiety about actual or potential problems
We accept this definition of ‘worry’ as accurate. Worrying is a particular state, as it represents one in which the efforts are never productive. When we feel a reasonable degree of anxiousness about a real or foreseeable problem, it can alert us to the severity or importance of the situation, and in turn help us problem-solve and reach viable solutions. Worrying occurs when one has no control over the potential outcomes of any given situation, but nevertheless continues to spin their wheels in torturing anguish. For example; having a severe recurring headache might cause some anxiety and thus alert one to investigate the matter by seeing a physician. This represents a step towards solving a problem. A worrier on the other hand, might run an epic slideshow of all the worst case scenarios that may be resulting in their pain on repeat, before finally seeking medical attention when either the pain or the anxiety becomes unbearable. This kind of mental rumination isn’t helpful. More than that, it is actually harmful. Chronic worrying is strongly correlated with a number of anxiety and depressive disorders. In this article, we hope to help you identify the signs of excessive worry before it becomes all-consuming.
5 Signs Of Excessive Worrying
1) Loss of Productivity: if your worrying is interfering with your productivity; be it at work, school, or in performing essential daily chores, this may be cause for concern. Having a worrisome thought is normal and happens to everyone, but remember, true worrying is the result of ruminating over things we cannot influence or control. It is different from time spent working out solutions in a rational manner. The trouble begins when we cannot put the brakes on our worry to attend to our immediate responsibilities such as work duties and deadlines. We often find that even in anxiety-provoking situations, most individuals can set aside the worrisome thoughts momentarily and concentrate on their tasks. Individuals who struggle with chronic worry and anxiety have more difficulty doing this.
2) Thinking the Worst: chronic worrying is often accompanied by chronic negativity. If you find yourself automatically imagining the worst possible outcome of a given circumstance, or generating negative thoughts as material for worry, this could be concerning. Chronic worriers have difficulty seeing situations at face value. For example, if your best friend misses your call, it’s not just a missed call, it’s an indication that she is either in trouble, ignoring you, or deliberating over ending your friendship. The thought that she may just have been busy in that instance might not even occur to a chronic worrier. You see where we are going with this; there is a negative bias that fuels continued worry.
3) Worrying About Others: everyone worries about their loved ones on occasion; dad’s bad knee, grandma’s overwhelming responsibilities, we all care about our family and friends, and this could sometimes cause us to feel concerned for their well-being. Similar to our first point however, if this worry consumes you for the better part of your day, or is interfering with your functioning, it is likely excessive. I don’t want to stereotype here, as I know all families are different, but coming from a Greek and Italian background, I feel we have a special knack for over-involvement, caring, and worrying about the people we love. It is a wonderful thing to care for our loved ones, and it’s okay to worry about them from time to time if our intention is to be helpful, but when the worry is causing us tangible, daily distress and is serving no helpful function, it has gone too far.
4) Unfounded Worry: these final two points usually occur in the later phases of chronic worry and are indicative of certain anxiety disorders. Unfounded worry is characterized by chronic anxiety over events that have a reasonably low probability of occurrence. For example, constantly fearing that you will lose your job even though you have received nothing but positive feedback from your employer, worrying your significant other will leave you without just cause, or fearing you will fall terminally ill regardless of the efforts you take to maintain a healthy lifestyle, can all be considered unfounded worries. Yes, any of these things could arguably happen to any given person, but when the anxiety manifests from within, and not from external evidence, it could become problematic.
5) Habitual Worry: this refers to worry that has become ingrained in one’s pattern of thinking; essentially like a habit. A client of ours once expressed to me that she feels as though “not worrying would jinx her outcomes” because things always turned out fine in the end when she would worry. This client knew her sentiment wasn’t rational, but still felt as though her anxiety became a protective entity in some way. Worry can also become comfortable and familiar, making it difficult to change our thinking patters when we have become accustom to a certain way. When worry reaches this point, it is usually advisable to seek the help of a professional. There are many effective therapeutic techniques that can successfully break the habitual worry loop.
Worry is a form of control. When we worry about something, our minds tell us “we’re working on a problem” even though we are not actively generating productive thoughts or solutions. We are simply spinning our wheels. If you believe you or someone you love worries too much, consider these five points and whether seeking help might present a good option for you. We have helped countless individuals overcome chronic worry and anxiety by helping them tap into the strength and resources they possessed all along.