It’s healthy to worry. Worrying means you care. Worrying is what makes you aware of who and what is going on around you. Worry is what helps you react when you need to react, and worrying is what helps you value the things in life that mean something to you.
But there is “normal” worrying, and there is anxiety worrying. Those that struggle with anxiety may find themselves worrying all the time, often about irrational things, or more than is appropriate for the situation. Worries are both a sign and a symptom of anxiety, and one of the most common issues that those with anxiety want to cure.
How Much Do You Worry?
Here at CalmClinic we have a free 7 minute anxiety test that will score how much you worry, and how much anxiety you may be struggling with. Use the test as a starting point for your own anxiety issues.
Is Worrying Itself Just Anxiety?
Some use the terms “worry” and “anxiety” interchangeably. But not everyone with anxiety worries in the traditional sense. Some people have more physical anxiety (such as with panic attacks), and others have worries but no other anxiety symptoms. If you haven’t yet, make sure you take our free 7 minute anxiety test.
Differences Between Worrying and Anxiety
The primary differences between worrying and anxiety are the following:
- Worries tend to be short lived. Anxiety is all the time.
- Worries may come with only mild physical symptoms. Anxiety comes with more severe symptoms.
- Worries tend to be limited to thoughts. Anxiety tends to have more imagination.
- Worries can be ignored. Anxiety cannot.
- Worry may be triggered from more realistic scenarios, such as an unanswered phone. Anxiety may occur randomly or for no reason at all.
Those with anxiety do worry. But the mere act of having worries does not itself mean that you have anxiety. There are is usually some additional issue, such as physical symptoms or worrying so severe that that it affects your job or personal life.
Worrying as a Symptom of Anxiety
For those with anxiety, It’s helpful to see worrying as its own separate symptom.
Although everyone with anxiety has some worries, such as worrying that they may have another panic attack, or feeling worried that they’ll be judged for their OCD thoughts, some people find that worrying IS one of their worst anxiety symptoms, because they find themselves worrying about different issues all the time.
Worries come in all shapes and sizes:
- Worries may be irrational, such as worrying that a friend’s plane will crash.
- Worries may be small, like worrying that your TV will die soon.
- Worries may be constant, such as worrying about the safety of your child.
There are those that worry about their health, and those that find themselves overwhelmingly concerned about money, safety, change, grades, work, friends, and more.
Those that worry often are more likely to have what’s known as “Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” or “GAD.” Although there are many types of anxiety that can cause worries, and not everyone with generalized anxiety disorder will find themselves in a frequent state of worry, it is more common with GAD than with any other form of anxiety.
How to Stop Anxiety Worries
If you worry because of anxiety, but it is not necessarily a significant symptom compared to other issues you’re facing, it may help to focus more broadly on curing your anxiety in general. But if you are someone that worries often, and it is one of your most distressing symptoms, the following strategies can help you reduce it:
Write Your Worries Down – Worries are not just a fear of worst case scenarios. They are also something your mind feels like it absolutely has to remember. This makes sense if it were a real danger. For example, if you were worried that a lion in front of you would attack you, the last thing you want to do is forget that worry. It makes less sense with anxiety. When you write down your worries in some type of booklet or journal, especially worries that require a follow up (like, “I am worried about paying my taxes,”), then it tells your mind that it’s okay to forget it. You have it in a permanent place.
Avoid Sitting in Silence – It does help to relax with anxiety, but less so when you find yourself frequently worried, because silence will cause your thoughts to wander. Instead, try to have some type of auditory or visual distraction that distracts your mind. One great recommendation is leaving on a comedy podcast. Unlike music, comedy podcasts are easy to ignore, while also distracting your mind from worries.
Talk Openly to a Partner, Friend, or Therapist – When you struggle with anxiety worries, it helps to share them with others. There is something calming to the mind about knowing that, if it WAS an important worry, someone else knows about it and can share that with you too. For example, if you are worried about your health, and you tell someone that you are worried about your health, you’ll feel calmer knowing that someone else can look out for you. It helps to let them know about your anxiety first, and tell them why you are sharing your worries with them.
Don’t Fight But Don’t Feed Your Worries – It’s important to train yourself out of trying to fight excessive worries. Constant worrying is not something that you can simply stop. When you’re worried about something, you’re worried. It’s not like you can un-worry with ease. But don’t feed your worries either. Try to avoid Google, don’t feel like checking in all the time, etc. Let yourself worry and deal with the worry, without trying to give it more ammunition.
Schedule Time to Worry – For those that actually have things to worry about, but simply cannot seem to stop worrying about them during the day, consider scheduling time for yourself to worry instead. Find a quiet space, take a notebook with you, and let yourself worry during that time. You can use the notebook to jot down anything you’d like to remember. Scheduling time to worry allows you to set those worries free, but to also focus on your daily life in the interim.
Of course, the best thing you can do is eliminate your anxiety in general. If you can get rid of your anxiety, many of the worries will go away with it, as constant worrying is a symptom of anxiety.
Free Yourself of Excessive Worry
Everyone has worries. It means you’re human and you care about things. But if constant worrying is a symptom of your anxiety, and you can’t seem to find any relief from the symptoms, the problem may be that you have anxiety. If that’s the case, the best way to reduce the frequency of your worries is to fight your anxiety.
To take our free 7 minute anxiety test, measure your anxiety, and compare it to others, start the test here.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.