Which is Healthier - Worry or Concern or Does it Matter?
Worry is defined as: allowing one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles, a state of anxiety and uncertainty over potential or future problems. Anxiety is fast becoming a major risk factor for health problems. Over 30% of Americans and Canadians will experience more than just worry, they will have an anxiety disorder. One study claims 86% of Brits are worriers, worrying about something almost 2 hours every day. Ok, we worry, so what?
Flight, Fight, or Freeze. Worry harms your body. by increasing stress hormones that have nowhere to go because you really don't need them. You generally don't need to run from a flash flood, freeze to avoid getting attacked by a bear, or fight off an attacker. These hormones, such as cortisol, wreak havoc in the body when they are not put to work. This can cause:
- Suppression of the immune system
- Digestive disorders
- Muscle tension
- Short-term memory loss
- Premature coronary artery disease
- Heart attack.
So, what if you have nothing to worry about. Just image it right now. Not a care in the world. No more worries. Sounds great? Sure it would. What if you never had to worry again, what would that look like?
Maybe...maybe not. If you had nothing to worry about what would that say about you? Indifferent, uncaring? If you didn't worry about your kids would that be good parenting? So, what's the answer? Find less things to worry about? That would be nice and even possible depending on your circumstances. But there is a way to show we love others, be caring, and deal with life's ups and downs without so much worry. What's the secret?
Redefining how we label it. What?! How will that help? For a minute think about these two statements: "I care about my kids." vs "I worry about my kids." As you ponder these, do they give you a different feeling? Words matter. Words bring up various emotions in us. We can be concerned about important things in our lives without worrying about the things we can't control.
Worry and anxiety are about future events. I don't know about you, but I can't control the future. I'm mean, I've tried. All I can do is make decisions based on current information and projected risk/rewards. My concern for the value of certain people or things in my life factor into those decisions, but I need not worry about the things beyond my choices.
Matt 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
If you need help reframing things that cause you worry, I highly recommend the book "When Panic Attacks" by Dr. David Burns. Available at most bookstores. I offer one-on-one CBT coaching and/or counselling that can help you reduce worry and turn the rest into a more productive and healthy form of concern. Visit my website for free 15 minute consultation.
“Any Anxiety Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml
Marie Claire. “Why Adults Worry; Anxiety Statistics In Adults.” Marie Claire, Marie Claire, 3 Sept. 2015, www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/health-fitness/86-per-cent-of-adults-are-worriers-51597
“What Worrying Does to Your Health.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 26 Apr. 2002, www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-97853/What-worrying-does-health.html.
“How Worrying Affects the Body.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/balance/guide/how-worrying-affects-your-body#1.