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The Upside to Worrying

By ErinStieglitz on May 2, 2018

The Upside to WorryingIf you’ve ever been called a “worry wart” or “nervous Nellie,” it may not be such an insult after all. There’s an upside to worrying and it may actually help you be a better, happier person.

New research published in Social and Personality Psychology Compass indicates that there are some true benefits to being a worrier including the power of worry as a motivating force to help you achieve goals and helping you balance your emotions. Of course, too much worrying can lead to anxiety, depression and negative effects of stress. But moderate worrying in your life may do you some good.

The Upside of Worrying: Motivation

The study found that when you worry about something you’re more likely to take action. Worrying is a sign of care and concern, so much so that you are motivated to do something about it, whether it’s seek help, take preventative measures or work harder. Plus, worrying keeps an issue top-of-mind and because it is uncomfortable, you’ll wan to do something to release or resolve the worry. But the right amount of worry is key to making improvements. People who worry only a little and people who worry too much are less likely to take action than those who worry a moderate amount.

The Upside of Worrying: Emotional Balance

Most worriers are bracing themselves, expecting the worst. This is how worrying got such a bad wrap. But worrying can help balance emotions – intensifying positive outcomes and mitigating negative ones. Once the result of the troublesome incident is revealed, a positive outcome is elevated not only due to satisfaction with the result, but also because it feels so much better than the uncomfortably of worrying. When the result is negative, however, worrying in advance and knowing this could be the outcome helps reduce feelings of sadness and disappointment. In short, highs are higher and lows are not as bad for worriers. Researchers call this an emotional buffer.

When Worrying Becomes Extreme

Worrying too much and too intensely, otherwise known as chronic worrying, can become bad for your mental health. At that point you don’t enjoy the upside of worrying but you do suffer from some mental and physical side effects ranging from fatigue, to digestive issues, to anxiety disorders.

If you find that worrying is taking a toll on you, employ some coping techniques that can help you get through tough times. One easy way to control chronic worrying is to make a list and analyze it to understand which worries can motivate you to take action and which are uncontrollable. Sometimes crying or screaming out load can help relieve aggression or just talking to someone, whether that’s a friend, family member or therapist.

Worriers often put a sense of urgency on their worry and get frantic when they can’t find quick resolution. However, this false sense of urgency can make worrying much more stressful. Stop and think if your worrying needs to be immediate or if you can put it on the back burner for awhile.

Sometimes doing something unpleasant in other ways can deescalate worrying. For example, if you repeat your worries over and over in your head, you may get bored and let it go, at least for awhile. You can also challenge yourself to get out of the habit of worrying by doing things that cause you fear. If you prove your worries wrong time and time again, your brain may catch on that it doesn’t need to worry so much.

Sources: Upworthy, WebMD and Science Newsline


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