What Exactly Is Worry?

A general definition of worry is to dwell on uncertainty, difficulty or problems and potential problems.

In simple terms, when you worry you’re misusing your imagination.

When you’re uncertain or facing difficult situations or events, you use your imagination to “see into the future”. You may not even realize that’s what you’re doing.

When you’re imagining this “future”, you see things that disturb you, make you sad, fearful or distraught. And you’re imagining that those are the actual things that will happen or the things you’ll need to deal with.

Intellectually and consciously you may understand it’s not real. However your emotions, the metabolic systems in your body and the survival part of your brain don’t have a clue. They respond as though this “imagined future” is your reality right now.

Worry is meant to come and go.

It’s meant to be stronger at times to get your attention, help keep you and those you love safe.

Natural worry doesn’t just float in the background. It disappears regularly. It certainly doesn’t stop you from living and enjoying life.

Natural worry enhances your ability to live life.

However when you spend days, weeks or months paralyzed by worry, even when everything around you is going well — it’s time to worry less.

Why is it important to worry less?

No matter which level of worry and anxiety you’re facing, worry wreaks havoc on the body.

Excessive and chronic worrying creates hormones your body uses to help you freeze, flee or fight when facing danger.

Every time your worry kicks in, the systems in your body produces the hormones it thinks it needs to survive.

The sympathetic nervous system increases the production of norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and a host of other chemicals.

Cortisol is released and increases blood sugar or glucose for your muscles to use and moves fat into the bloodstream to quickly produce even more energy.

The sympathetic nervous system also suppresses your immune system.

The systems in your body all interact.

From the chemicals released, your body has everything it needs to give you a boost of quick energy. The blood vessels in your stomach, intestines and other parts of the body constrict, so more blood flows to the large muscles, your heart and your lungs.

The chemicals your body releases cause:

  • nervous energy / trembling and twitching
  • shortness of breath / rapid breathing,
  • fast heartbeat,
  • sweating,
  • dry mouth / difficulty swallowing,
  • lessening of your hearing and peripheral vision

all in an attempt to prepare you to freeze, flee or fight.

Yet when there is no reason to freeze, nothing to fight or flee from, your body doesn’t use the chemicals. Instead, it stores them.

When all these chemicals your body produces, stay in your body for too long, they cause other issues.

You’ll experience muscle tension, aches and pains, irritability, aggression, fatigue, headache, nausea, and inability to concentrate among other things.

Once the stressor that triggered the fight or flight response is over, your system produces other hormones to help regulate everything and bring your body back to its normal functioning state.

Yet, that’s the problem with chronic and excessive worry, your body doesn’t make it back to its normal state on its own.

That’s when you may turn to food to help “calm your nerves”.

Even if you still eat mostly healthy, your ability to digest food is decreased by excessive worry. When digestion decreases your body won’t absorb vitamins and nutrients as readily.

Your immune system remains slightly suppressed.

Your blood vessels remain more constricted than normal.

Even your perception abilities are impacted. You’ll notice the negative more often or see ambiguous situations as negative more frequently.

You may experience short-term memory loss and ongoing worry can create or exacerbate existing heart problems, like coronary artery disease and even cause a heart attack.

These are all good reasons to practice living more and worrying less. Where you begin your practice is determined by your level of worry and anxiety.

But where you do begin your practice?

First determine what is your level of worry.

Below is a 7 question quiz to help you determine if you have anxiety symptoms related to mild, moderate or severe worry. Once you have that answer, you can determine how deeply your level of worry is impacting your mental and physical health.

To get the most accurate answers, and not the ones your conscious mind “thinks” you should or shouldn’t have, wake up 15 minutes before your normal time and take the test while only half awake.

This gives you greater access to your subconscious feelings and impressions.

Your answer choices are:

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

Choose the answer that best describes your experiences over the last two weeks. Write down the number beside each answer you choose.

Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problems?

Felt nervous, anxious or on edge?

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

Been unable to stop or control worrying?

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

Worried too much about different things?

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

Had trouble relaxing?

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

Been so restless that it is hard to sit still?

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

Become easily annoyed or irritable?

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

Felt afraid as if something awful might happen?

0 Not at all
1 Several days
2 More than half the days
3 Nearly every day

SCORING:

Add your numbers together.

0 to 5 You experience mild symptoms of anxiety caused by worry.
5 to 10 You experience moderate symptoms of anxiety caused by worry.
11 to 21 You experience severe symptoms of anxiety caused by worry.

No matter where you happen to fall on the scale of worry and anxiety, you can reach a natural state of worry. The “cure” for worry doesn’t necessarily require drugs, although they can be helpful. It certainly doesn’t require hiding away from living your life.

In the next installment, you’ll be introduced to 4 methods to help you reveal the roots of your worry and you’ll choose at least one of those methods to practice.

Achieving a state of natural worry is possible no matter what level of anxiety due to worry you currently experience.

Want to receive updates, tips & tools 

to help you take back your days 

starting from where your life is right now?
 

Simply enter your email in the box below. 

We respect your email privacy

Join the Conversation

CommentLuv badge