Do you constantly worry about your health even though regular checkups by your doctor reveal nothing wrong? Do you constantly worry about what your boss and coworkers think of you? Do you worry that the flight you are taking tomorrow might end in a plane crash?
Chronic worrying can seriously affect your mental and physical health. Statistics show that chronic worriers tend to over-utilise the health care system, are more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, fatigue, aches and pains, and also psychiatric disorders such as depression.
What causes some people to be chronic worriers?
Why do some people live in a state of constant anxiety about what might happen while others always have an air of easy unconcern about them?
Experts think genes are partly to blame. It’s a tendency you were born with and that you inherited from your parents. But your early childhood environment probably has also a lot to do with it. If you grew up in a secure family environment where you could depend upon your parents to always keep you safe, you are more likely to carry this feeling of security into adulthood.
On the other hand, children of divorced parents or dysfunctional families are more likely to be chronic worriers as are children of overprotective mothers.
Chronic worriers do have a rationale for their constant worrying: They think that by dwelling upon their apprehensions, they can forestall undesirable events from happening.
Not all worrying is bad of course. You do need to worry a bit about an approaching examination to make you study for it and do well. Worrying is bad when it’s exaggerated to the point where it starts to affect your health and normal function, or it’s about things that are totally beyond your control.
Strategies to help you overcome chronic worrying
Here are some steps you can to take to control worrying:
1. Make a list of all your worries.
Next separate these worries into two groups of productive and unproductive worries. Productive worries are those you can do something about; unproductive ones are those that you can do nothing about. For each productive worry, make a list of steps you need to take to deal with the problem. For unproductive worries, realize how fruitless it is to worry.
2. Observe and analyse your worrying behaviour.
Chronic worrying is a habit much like smoking. Observe the specific times of day you worry as well as specific thoughts that set the chronic worrying train in motion. Knowing your triggers can give you the power to control them.
3. Set aside a specific time of day to think about your worries.
If you catch yourself worrying at any other time, write down your thought and put it aside until your “worry time.” During your “worry time” think of solutions to your productive worries. Do not suppress your unproductive worries; rather think of them intensely and long enough till you get bored with them and you begin to appear to yourself as just plain silly.
4. Learn to live in the present.
Instead of preoccupying yourself trying to get certain answers to an uncertain future, focus your mind in the present moment and ask yourself what it is that you can do right now to make your life more pleasant and meaningful.
5. Don’t make mountains out of molehills.
This is something chronic worriers are very good at. Try your best to assess the magnitude of the problem that worries you. Try to picture in your mind as accurately as possible the worst that may happen. You’ll most likely find that it is not an outcome you will be unable to cope with if it did actually happen.