neuropsychology and psychology clinic
How to manage chronic worry and anxiety

Tips for Managing Chronic Worrying – a Common Symptom of Anxiety

If you find yourself constantly worrying about all the things that could possibly go wrong and trying to find solutions to those hypothetical scenarios- you may find this post helpful.

Most things we do in our daily lives serve some sort of purpose, whether we are aware of it or not. Sometimes the purpose is positive, sometimes negative and sometimes it’s both. When working with clients who experience chronic worrying, I have heard it helps them “feel prepared”, “feel safe”, “feel secure”, “feel more comfortable,” among other things. While this may be true, many of us also experience negative effects from this type of worrying, mainly, increased negative thoughts, increased anxiety symptoms, and it takes a toll on our bodies (we may lose sleep, for example).

Worry can serve a positive purpose in our life; for example, it may serve as a motivator to study if you are worried about how you will do on a test. However, like many things, it can cross a line where it goes from being helpful, to being harmful (you are so worried, you cannot focus or study). For each of us, this threshold is different, and to identify it we must first be aware of the symptoms of anxiety we personally experience, and learn to notice them. When you notice these symptoms spiking, it may be a sign that this threshold was crossed for you.

I would like you to visualize that you are about to go on a run, hike or walk. It is a beautiful day outside- the air is crisp; the sun is out. You are energized and excited. Before you go, you grab one bottle of water, because it is reasonable to expect that you will get thirsty- so you prepare for this. Before you walk out, you go back to grab another one, because what if this one is not enough? Then another one, because what if you accidentally spill one of them? And on, and on, and on. Pretty soon, you are headed out with a backpack full of water bottles, weighing you down. You feel prepared. What else are you feeling? Are you comfortable? Are you feeling calm?

This begs the question- Is it worth being prepared for everything at, potentially, the expense of your mental and physical well-being? That is something only you can decide. Start by asking yourself:

How does worry affect me?
Is it negatively impacting different areas of my life? If so, how?
And most importantly- does it bother me?

If you answered yes to this last one, the following tips may help you manage chronic worry, thereby decreasing or preventing anxiety symptoms from getting worse.

Limit your exposure to things that make you worry (news, crime stories, etc.)- you decide what that limit is. To which point is it helpful, and when does it become harmful for you? This ties back in to knowing your symptoms and being aware of when your they spike.
Prepare yourself, if this helps you, but set limits for yourself. For example, allow yourself to have a plan A and B, but not plans A though Z.
Make it a rule for yourself that you will try to only worry about, and find solutions for, problems that are real, that are happening for you. Try to avoid hypotheticals.
Know that you are a capable human being, and that you can come up with solutions to problems, as they arise. Trust in yourself. Think back on times when you successfully solved difficulties that were unexpected.
Build a support system. Friends, family, and others that you can rely on when you encounter difficulties are a great resource and may provide some relief to worrying about what you will do if something goes wrong.
When you find it difficult to stop worrying thoughts, practice self-care and relaxation techniques. Calm breathing, watching a film you enjoy, socializing, meditating or exercising are a few examples. Crete a list of the self-care and relaxation tools that work for you.

Together, these tips can help you manage worry. As always, if you find that you are struggling to manage any of these symptoms on your own, consult with your primary care provider or mental health provider for additional support.

By Taina Aceves, LMFT


Click here to receive free blog posts and news articles from Pacific Neurobehavioral Clinic.