Tuesday, 21 August 2007


Thinking through problems and challenges is a healthy response to life pressures, giving us the impetus to do what needs to be done – to assess, take responsibility for change, and take action. But sometimes, instead of working out the solution to a challenge, we become caught up with unresolved concerns. At this stage, planning has turned into worrying.

Worrying is not the same as the medical diagnosis of "anxiety disorder", when anxious thoughts take over our lives to the degree that we need professional help. But worries can still prevent us from enjoying life to the full.

But why do we worry?Almost everyone feels worried sometimes. Certain situations throughout life are particularly likely to make us feel worried. These could include being ill, looking for a new job, feling insecure in a relationship. There are many underlying reasons for worrying.

Some psychologists think that excessive worrying is rooted in personality types. Others believe it can be traced back to negative childhood events. More serious anxiety disorders can be due to a disturbance of chemicals in the brain. For one in ten people, worrying spirals out of control. Excessive worry can stop us from working effectively and taking risks. When we worry too much, we obsess over situations we can only partly control. We also worry about things that, realistically, we are powerless to change, such as being injured in a freak accident. Worrying can also produce other emotional and physical symptoms.

Sometimes, the process of worrying about a problem becomes much bigger than the problem itself. So we often need to learn to deal with worries head on. Talking to trusted friends or relatives is a useful way to articulate worries and negative feelings. It can give a fresh perspective and help us to see the situation more clearly. It can also be useful to acknowledge our worst fears about a worrying situation. By considering how to react to a worst-case scenario – and seeing how unlikely such a bad outcome really is – we can increase the sense of being able to cope, and decrease our anxieties.

Many people find writing helpful. Write down specific worrying situations. Take one problem and break it down into parts, ranking them in order of importance. Work out a solution for each task and when to complete it. Plan a reward for achieving each goal. Recent research suggests that expressive writing can minimise intrusive thoughts about negative events. Start a journal to write down thoughts and feelings.

Worrying can stem from a lack of self-confidence, so it may help to attend a self-assertiveness class to improve your interpersonal skills. We tend to worry more when we are stressed, so it can help to allow ourselves breathing space to step back and reflect. Don't take on unrealistic commitments. There is increasing evidence that regular exercise helps to reduce anxiety. It provides valuable "time out" and can release brain chemicals that improve mood. Aerobic exercise is most beneficial – try a brisk 20-minute walk a few days a week.

Regular meals and a balanced, high-fibre diet will provide sustained levels of energy to keep you on an even keel. Avoid high caffeine and alcohol intake – both can increase anxiety and can worsen worrying.Many people find complementary therapies useful, including acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy

Sometimes, self-help is not enough to overcome persistent worrying. Medical treatment – Drugs are sometimes used to treat people with anxiety. These can include tranquillisers, particularly benzodiazepines. However, these are addictive and are only used as a short-term treatment for severe anxiety. Antidepressants are also prescribed to treat the symptoms of anxiety. They have the advantage that they are not addictive, so they can be used as a longer-term treatment. Talking therapies – Another treatment option is a "talking therapy". Talking therapies aim to address negative thoughts and behaviours and deal with underlying causes of anxiety through a series of sessions with a trained therapist. The type of talking therapy may depend on the severity of the anxiety. Examples include: Cognitive behaviour therapy – This treatment helps examine the ways we think (cognition) about the world around us, exploring connections between our anxiety and how we think, feel and behave. By learning new ways of thinking and behaving we are better able to face our fears. Psychodynamic psychotherapy – This treatment focuses on the underlying emotional causes of psychological problems such as childhood events, unresolved conflicts and family relations. Psychotherapy can take a long time to yield results and can be an expensive treatment. Counselling – this is similar to psychotherapy but more informal. Unlike psychotherapy, a counsellor may give direct advice with the aim of helping you explore how to make positive choices in life. Counsellors need not be medically or psychologically trained and may only have practical experience and training.

Worrying can make life difficult, for both you and those that have to reassure you. Although it takes time and energy, the result of dealing with it can be a less stressful, more fulfilling life. Personally I write in my blog.

1 comment:

Thomas Ebdrup said...

Some thoughts. I think you may worry to much ;-)

I usually just take life as it comes. Why worry about things you have no influence on. Deal with the problems when they arise, instead of seeking them out and worrying on beforehand.

Things happen for a reason and we cant change anything anyway, so why worry.

We just need to take care of out bodies and everything else will go okay in the long run.

Good luck tomorrow.