The vast majority of people worry from time to time, but the frequency and severity of these worries vary. Some people’s worries are infrequent and cause them rather little discomfort. Others do not know how to control themselves and experience great emotional turmoil.
Meanwhile, according to the observations of scientists, from 85% to 94% of cases that people worry about never happen. And here the question logically arises: Is it worth worrying about that? What is the benefit and harm from that?
Is it useful to worry about something?
People who worry a lot (whether they suffer from an anxiety disorder or not) tend to believe that worrying is useful, even though it can cause moral exhaustion and depression. They hold what psychologists call a “belief in a brighter future. Anxiety is thought to help effectively prepare for and prevent future difficulties, and to increase motivation to complete tasks. But is this true? Is anxiety really useful?
To some extent, this is true. Anxiety helps our brains scan for potential future problems and threats, and then uses unpleasant, anxious feelings to avoid those problems. When the threat is real, it can be helpful.
For example, when you’re worried about a pandemic, worrying is helpful. Reasonable worries about infection or the spread of COVID-19 can increase the likelihood that someone will wear a mask in public places or get vaccinated. Nevertheless, worry is not a blameless tool, nor is it free. Worry has consequences that sometimes far outweigh the pros.
Many of the unpleasant situations we think about will never happen to us
To begin with, the events we worry about are actually rare, and most of the time we just worry too much. According to research, unfortunate predictions are very often false.
People who worry a lot tend to believe that they would not have been able to cope with the negative consequences if they had actually happened. They engage in what psychologists call “catastrophizing. Not only do they believe that the worst will happen, but they also think that they will not be able to handle the situation. However, even when the fears do come true, people often cope with the consequences much better than they expected, even those who are very prone to overexcitement.
Many studies on “affective prediction” have shown that when unpleasant things happen, such as a person not getting a promotion or a desired result on a pregnancy test, people tend to perceive them much less negatively than they expected. Simply put, people tend to exaggerate the strength of the threat, downplaying their ability to cope with life’s challenges.
Excessive anxiety does not help in solving problems
Perhaps worrying helps us solve problems. Many people today are convinced of this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
In one experiment, participants who were instructed to worry about a current personal problem developed fewer effective solutions compared to those who were instructed to reason objectively about their problem. All in all, this and other studies demonstrate that anxiety is not the problem-solving tool many people think it is.
Anxiety can help people anticipate possible problems, but it does not help in solving them. Once you have initially thought through all the steps by which events can fail, the benefits of worrying are drastically reduced.
However, we should not take this behavior as a habit. Anxiety is dangerous in that it carries significant costs to our psychological and physical health. For example, do you feel good when you worry? Of course not! Anxiety generates stress, negatively affecting the condition of the body.
Anxiety prevents you from thinking and making good decisions
Psychologists have proven that the habit of worrying about anything prevents you from thinking rationally and making decisions. When you worry, it distracts your mental attention and takes away your ability to think properly.
Frequent worrying is associated with difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, delayed and impaired learning, and delayed decision-making. If you are trying to solve a problem, anxiety will not help you prepare for the worst. It will only reduce your chances of success.
We may also avoid certain events or people because of anxiety. For example, a man may be afraid to go on a date because he thinks he will be rejected. Some people attribute any pain in the body to a serious illness and disappear to doctors’ offices instead of going out with friends. Some people are unable to enjoy time with their loved ones in peace. In other words, by succumbing to anxiety, we are preparing for a worse future for ourselves with our own hands.
Worrying causes us great emotional suffering
Constant anxiety causes emotional spikes, mood swings, interferes with normal thinking and makes us miss out on the best parts of life. Anxiety really doesn’t help much when dealing with problems. In short, it’s a bad deal.
Certainly, things happen when a little anxiety is something necessary. Nevertheless, even if anxiety is appropriate to the situation, it is not a good idea to go into the abyss of worry. After that, it will be helpful to turn to calm objective thinking and the implementation of ideas.
If there are no effective solutions at the moment, shift your attention to something meaningful and worthwhile for you. In most cases, anxiety does not justify its cost. As numerous studies have shown, the benefits of worry simply do not outweigh its costs. Worry is not worth it.
Anxiety Therapy Methods
The problem is that even if you know this, it can be difficult to simply force your will to stop worrying. It is often a strongly conditioned bad habit that you need to get rid of.
Fortunately, there are many effective methods and therapeutic approaches for actually reducing your anxiety. Some of them, such as mindfulness practices and therapies, focus on accepting your worries rather than fighting them. According to these practices, it’s as if you’re observing your anxieties from a distance and letting them pass through you.
In contrast, approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) attempt to actively change anxiety and its consequences. For example, the practice of challenging anxious thoughts includes the use of logic and evidence to refute certain assertions about anxiety.
Finally, there are special exercises such as gradual muscle relaxation or steady breathing can help you clear your mind and reduce the frequency of anxiety and its grip.
Getting rid of anxiety is not easy, but necessary
Whatever method you use, it may be time to break up with your anxiety. Anxiety is like a bad guy. He lies, makes you feel bad when you’re around him, and never lives up to your expectations. Despite all these flaws, you keep coming back to anxiety over and over again for undetermined reasons.
It is important to realize that the suffering of anxiety overshadows all of its benefits. Getting rid of anxiety is not easy, but it is necessary in order to return to a full life. If you can’t overcome this feeling on your own, then seek help from a specialist.