What is worry costing you?
Research reveals that over 90% of the things people worry about never happen!Studies also show that people who worry often are generally less effective than those who don’t.They get less work done, are often less happy, and are slower to respond than non-worriers—presumably because worrying burns off mental energy that would be more effectively applied elsewhere.
According to Gary Marcus, Professor of Psychology at New York University, a joint laboratory study at Yale and Pennsylvania State University found that the mere opportunity to worry for only five minutes was enough to bring down a person’s mood. Worry is costing all of us something.
Everyone worries, but most worry is about some negative possibility in the future, not about something happening right now that requires our attention. For example:
- What will happen if I lose my job?
- Will my partner leave me?
- What if something terrible happens to my child?
Such questions are worthy of consideration, but are not the sort of thing that can be solved by worry.
Worry negatively affects our health and elevates cortisol levels. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid—C21H30O5—produced by the adrenal cortex that, upon stimulation by ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), mediates various metabolic processes as gluconeogenesis. It has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties and its levels in the blood may become elevated in response to physical or psychological stress.Also called hydrocortisone, this hormone primes the body for physical activity—for example, when we must sprint from danger. It acts to dampen the immune system, which may make us susceptible to infection.
Astudy conducted at the University College London of 542 adults with an average age of 60 found that those who engaged with their problems and sought social support had lower cortisol levels than those who did not.
What we need to do, quite simply, is relax and think clearly; however, our mindset and society often lead us in opposite directions. Worry can breed anxiety, paralysis in thinking, and depression, rather than creative solutions.
The word “worry” comes from an Old English word “wyrgan”—to strangle or throttle— and that’s what worries often do; they seize us by the throat until we can’t think about anything else. When worry takes on a life of its own, it becomes a huge, often pointless drain on our time and energy.Worse, chronic worry may take a toll on our hearts, literally. Arecent study from Cambridge University linked the current banking and economic crises to an increased number of heart attacks, perhaps because chronic worry and stress can lead people to drink more, smoke, eat too much, and exercise less.
Read these words from Dr. Robert L. Leahy, author of The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You:
All this worry can affect your physical as well as your mental health. Worriers tend to be over utilizers of the health care system, meaning they see their doctor for just about every ache and pain. Worriers are more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, fatigue, and aches and pains. In addition, 93% of people with generalized anxiety disorder also have an overlapping psychiatric disorder such as depression.
Does worry increase your bank account balance, get you a new job, improve your relationships, or make you feel better? No!In fact, the opposite occurs—what you worry about can be attracted into your life. If you are worried about getting cancer, you could fulfill this worry with the real disease. Who wants that?!On the flip side, choosing to focus on what you do want produces feel-better hormones and conditions in your body.
- Consider everything that has worried you recently, and determine how much of it actually came to be. Were most of your worries unnecessary?
- Think about whether worrying has helped you solve your problems in the past;likely, it has not.
- Recognize the true cost of worry, in terms of your fulfillment, opportunity, and health. Do you want to continue paying this price?
- Learn the difference between “concern” and “worry.”Concern means paying attention to your issues, without letting them stop you from moving forward.Worry, however, means allowing your mind to dwell on your difficulties or troubles, often resulting in unnecessary anxiety or distress.
- Shift your focus.Stop focusing on what you don’t want; start focusing on what you do If you’re focused on sickness, switch your thoughts to health and wellness. If you’re worried about money, focus on learning how to make smart decisions and become successful financially.
- Stop any victim-mentality mindset NOW. No excuses.
- Refrain from constantly dumping your worries on your friends and acquaintances.That kind of talk is draining to the listener, and you’ll soon find that no one wants to spend time with a chronic worrier.
- Create a list of everything you would do if you knew your efforts couldn’t fail. Choose to focus on a goal or positive outcome right now. Refuse to allow worry to take over your mind.
- Go for it or let it go. Either way, notice how you enjoy your wonderful new worry-free feelings.
- Have fun being in the moment. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow will never come. All you have is today.
In the end, we are all personally responsible for our own thoughts and emotional states. We have the choice to look at things negatively, with worry, or positively, in anticipation of preferred results.
Just say “no” to worry!
Ken Keis, Ph.D.
CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc.
Ken Keis, Ph.D., President of CRG, is a global expert on leadership, wellness, behavioral assessments, and life purpose. In 28 years, he has conducted over 3000 presentations and 10,000+ hours of consulting and coaching. Ken Keis is considered a foremost global authority on the way assessment strategies and processes increase and multiply your success rate. He co-created CRG’s proprietary development models and has written over 4 million words of content for 40 business training programs and 500+ articles. His latest book, The Quest For Purpose: A Self-Discovery Process To Find It And Live It!, is available at thequestforpurpose.ca.