What, Me Worry?

IMAGE Jerri knew she worried too much. She worried about her children. She worried about traveling. She even worried about worrying. "All my life people have called me a worrywart," says the mother of two. "I thought that was just the way I was." Fear, anxiety, and stress—such as that exhibited by Jerri—are all components of worry, but can you worry too much? Having awareness is one thing, but persistent doubts that never leave your mind are not. Over time, worries take their toll on your mind, body, and quality of life.

Is It a Blessing in Disguise?

Worry is typically defined in negative terms. However, some level is not only normal, it is actually helpful. Worry is can be an alarm system and you need some to be alive and healthy. It may direct your thoughts and actions into a positive direction. There are times when worrying can help you solve, or even avoid, problems. But, when the alarm goes off for no reason or the level stays too high for too long, problems may arise.The trick is to use your worry for the greater good. In other words, when worry strikes, deal with it head on, or move on and let it go.

How Does the Body Respond to Worry?

Worry causes a chemical reaction in the body, triggering the release of stress hormones that prepare you to respond to a dangerous situation by fighting or running away. With worry though, the dangers are often imagined rather than real. Doubts and fears waste time and drain your energy. Added to that, negative thoughts release stress hormones that can adversely affect your health, like your immune system.Excess worry can affect your ability to sleep at night and increases your overall level of anxiety. All this affects your physical health, your ability to act effectively, or your ability to navigate daily life.

Who Are the Worriers?

Worry is often a learned behavior. Most of us are taught to worry. How we worry depends on how we grew up and what we were exposed to. Other people begin worrying more after a life trauma occurs, making them fear a repeat of the incident. In some it's genetic, meaning you're predisposed to the behavior.How do you know when your worrying crosses the line? You'll know when it starts affecting your life. Your stress levels will be higher and you will be less focused on things you need to be attentive to.

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