If you’re a chronic worrier, there’s good news on the horizon: Experts have determined that not all worrying is bad. In fact, they believe that people who worry a lot tend to be highly intelligent, conscientious, responsible and organized. Keep in mind, however, they are talking about plain old fretting and fussing, not extreme worry or severe anxiety, which can be debilitating.
How Worry Helps
You may be doubtful that there are upsides to worrying, but here are a few examples of the good things worrying may bring:
- Worrying motivates us to take action necessary to keep ourselves safe. For example, a little healthy worry prompts us to apply sunscreen or fasten our seat belts.
- Worrying signals that something is wrong and needs attention. As a result, we become problem solvers.On the flip side, happy-go-lucky, worry-free people don’t usually brood about things, so they aren’t as involved in finding out answers.
- Low levels of stress and worry actually increase blood flow to the brain. We are able to think more clearly and intently.
Too Much Worry
Don’t confuse moderate worry with chronic stress and anxiety that may cause severe health problems, including fatigue, high blood pressure, depression, aches and pains, weakened immune system and stomach problems. If you aren’t sure your worrying is healthy, here are signs that you may be worrying excessively:
- You tend to see the worst possible scenario in every situation. Threats and danger are lurking everywhere.
- You have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep because your mind is racing.
- You experience unhealthy levels of guilt.
- You replay unpleasant events and conversation in your head over and over again. You think about what you should have done differently.
- You feel resentful that other people, including coworkers or family members, aren’t meeting your expectations.
Potential for Drug and Alcohol Dependence or Addiction
All too often, chronic worriers turn to drugs and alcohol to quell the disturbing thoughts. If you are self-medicating in unhealthy ways, drug and alcohol treatment or rehab can help you discover more effective ways of coping with worry and stress.