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Help with Worry and Anxiety

Updated on April 7, 2015

Worry or Anxiety?

“That the birds of worry and care fly above your head - this you cannot change.

But that they build nests in your hair – this you can prevent.”

~ Chinese proverb.

Nearly half of the American population suffer from chronic worry, which is an unhealthy and difficult way to live.

While there are things to worry about, such as health scares, school shootings, unemployment and a sluggish economy, how you worry, and the effect it has on your life, is the focus of this article.

  • A good worry leads to constructive action, such as to make another plan, or set up a cash reserve, investigate the mole on your back or have your blood sugar tested.

  • A toxic worry paralyses you into procrastination, underachievement and in-action. If you brood over your worries, lose sleep, have headaches, feel ill, you are a toxic or chronic worrier.

Toxic or chronic worry elevates the risk of heart attacks, blood pressure, gastrointestinal disturbances, ulcers, eczema, asthma, muscular aches and ultimately can shorten one’s life.

One in four people meet the criteria for anxiety disorders related to worry such a OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). If the everyday chronic worriers are added to this mix, we could be reaching nearly half the population.

What do People Worry about Most?

1. Their children

2. Money

3. Job Security

4. Relationships

5. Health

Some worries come in waves according to the headlines, such as the stock market problems, economic woes, closing down of businesses, health scares such as Asian flu, and a toxic worrier will worry because there is nothing to worry about and they believe they must be missing something.


Adolescents worry about their appearance, their grades, peer acceptance, achievements and entertainment.

Younger Children worry about their security, so its robbers, kidnappers, the bogey man under the bed.

Young children hear the stories of road accidents, war disaster, rape or epidemics and think it’s going to happen to them tonight.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.

It empties today of its strength”

~ Corrie Ten Boom

Worry, itself is not necessarily an awful thing, rather it is the way in which one worries that can be the problem. Worry lets one identify hazards and come up with contingency plans for dealing with them.

Worry becomes a problem when the worrier loses balance, compulsively goes on and on creating anxiety which may become a vicious cycle leading to depression.

  • If, a worry pops into your mind ask yourself, is the problem something you’re currently facing or an imaginary what-if?
  • If it’s an imaginary “what if”, ask yourself how likely realistically is this to happen?
  • Is the problem solvable or is it out of your control?

If the problem is solvable take action on it right away. Unproductive worries are those that do not have a corresponding solution such as “What if I get cancer someday?” or “ What if my husband’s flight crashes into the ocean?”

(As an aside, if those are your worries, ensure you have medical insurance, and that both of you have life insurance – worry sorted!)

Getting Help

“With Anxiety we have far more imaginary worries than real ones”


What if the worry isn’t something solvable? Chronic worriers or anxious people have the habit of always thinking the worst, their tired mind has lost its resilience, and they live in a world of ‘what ifs”.

These thoughts seem to enter one’s head without even thinking about them, they magnify, little problems become larger than life, and the imagination runs out of control.

If you are in this space, identify the frightening thought, ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen and secondly, what’s the probability that it will actually happen? If the probability is low ask, what are the more likely outcomes?

This rational thinking may give you the answer to negate that particular train of worry. Using this examination and challenge to your fears will help to develop a more balanced perspective.

Anxiety, feelings of panic, or detachment can be a result of the body being stressed and tired. Worriers keep fighting these thoughts and obsessing as they cannot bear doubt or uncertainty but, it’s impossible to know 100% what is going to happen.

Worrying does not make life predictable, it doesn’t stop unpleasant things from happening, it just stops you from enjoying the present.

Don’t spend every day going around in circles trying to work it out, stopping this cycle is all about understanding your emotions. You may believe that you should always be calm that feelings should make sense and be rational.

The truth is that life, like emotion, is messy and doesn’t always make sense. Try to accept your feelings as part of being human and the feeling of being overwhelmed will diminish.

8 Simple steps to stop Anxiety and Worry

Don’t keep endlessly looking for a cure to your anxiety, create one

by no longer letting it rule what you do and don’t do.”


Practice Mindfulness.

  • Worrying usually refers to the future, while mindfulness focuses on the present. Try to let the thoughts flow in and out without reacting, just observing them.
  • When these thoughts enter your head, there is a part of you that sees them for what they truly are, then let them go.
  • Fighting them is not the answer, scary or not, give them their space, don’t impose a false sense of importance to the thought and their significance will diminish in your mind, and the thought will float away.
  • This strategy is based on observing your worries and then letting them go. It takes practice to notice that wen you don’t try to control the anxious thoughts they pass, and then bring your focus back to the present by noticing how your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, your changing emotions.

“Learning to accept who we are is the first step to recovery”

Don’t shut yourself in, put on your walking shoes and connect with the world. Family, neighbours, friends, interest groups are all the structures that give meaning and stability to our lives.

Often a toxic worry is based on lack of information or the wrong information, clarify the facts. The most important fact to remember is - Don’t Worry Alone, it is not healthy, and besides another persons’ perspective on the worry could eliminate or reduce it! .

“Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want”

~ Abraham Hicks.

Once again exercise is the consummate leveller and brain rejuvenator, making you less depressed and anxious. The moment you start worrying, walk up the stairs a few times, walk around the building, the block or the yard. Meditation can also press the reset button.

Try to Give Worry its Own Time

Your anxious thoughts are driving you mad, but the more you try to rid yourself of them, the more obstinate they become.

Contrary to mindfulness above, try a different approach and let the thoughts come, but put off thinking about it until your worry time. Let’s say, 5.30 to 5.50 pm a set time every day, however, not just before bedtime.

If a worry comes into your mind during the day, make a note of it, remind yourself you will have time to think about it later, then postpone it to your ‘worry time’.

Reflect on your worries at ‘worry time’, if any have lost their significance, shorten the time and enjoy your evening. There is no struggle to suppress, judge or get rid of your thought. You save it for later thereby controlling your worrying.

Take notice if there are unusual times or people that affect your emotions negatively. Spend less time with people who leave you stressed or anxious in their company.

Cognitive Distortion

If you constantly:

  • Overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly,
  • Don’t believe in your own ability to handle life’s problems,
  • Feel you will fall apart at the first sign of trouble.
  • There is no middle ground in your thinking and you over generalise, for example, if this train trip was miserable, all train trips must be bad
  • Your mind filters out everything that was right and focuses on one thing that was wrong.
  • The positive is always just ‘dumb luck’.
  • A reasonable warning such as a pilot saying’ there will be some turbulence’, turns into a catastrophe and you think he means the plane is going down.
  • You beat yourself up if you don’t stick to your strict list of do’s and don'ts.
  • Assume responsibility for things that are outside your control
  • Calling yourself names, e.g. I’m an idiot, loser, stupid, etc.

This is what is known as cognitive distortion and although it is not based in reality, it is hard to give up.

Cognitive behaviour therapy helps people get over their phobias and anxieties.

Medical Help

If none of these suggestions bring your worries into the normal range and anxiety is making you ill, please see a doctor.

Medications such as Prozac and Zoloft can change lives, in that people who are barely able to operate become managers, enjoy successful relationships and married life.

‘People gather bundles of sticks to build bridges they never cross”

~ Unknown

  • One doesn’t want to get rid of worrying completely as that becomes another problem called denial, which allows one to take foolhardy risks and get into all sorts of trouble.

© 2013 Shelley Watson


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    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      ahorseback, So glad you stopped by and commented. I agree, in a perfect world our youth should be happy, safe and carefree.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 3 years ago

      Amazing hub ! I am going to bookmark so I can read it again and again ! The anxiety of youth is the saddest one ! Why should a child suffer from anxieties ! I know , I have always had a pretty good dose of it . Even my doctor can't seem to treat it !........Awesome hub !

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 4 years ago

      ryanjhoe, I hope you will get better and better at coping with panic attacks. I am glad you are feeling calm, and would like to thank you for visiting.

    • ryanjhoe profile image

      ryanjhoe 5 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      I got panic attacks around two months ago, I try to cope with it as time goes. I feel calm now and hopefully I will not get panic attacks again. Your hub is very helful and informative for me, thanks for sharing this!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      vespawoolf, hello and thank you for visiting. You are so right, I am a bit of a worrier, and I do know that thinking about the future can suck the joy out of the present. I am sorry about your friend, and thank you for the life lesson in common sense.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      These are great reminders to correct distorted thinking patterns. I remember an experience about 10 years ago of sitting in a room with a couple who are our friends. The husband, who tends to see things in a negative light said, "If one in four get cancer in their lifetime, then one of us in this room will get cancer." His prediction came true. His wife has cancer. They ate a healthy diet and led a healthy lifestyle; it just happened. So worrying about it and negative predictions did nothing to prevent the outcome. Now I realize worrying about the future and things that are beyond our control only saps our energy.

      This is very useful. Thank you! Voted up.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      LadyLyell, That is terrific news. Thank you so much, I am really glad the information will be put to good use!

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      I have just stopped by to read your excellent article again, every word making total sense.

      I have also taken notes from the above to use at a biblical meeting I'm attending on Sunday where this matter will be touched on.

      Excellent writing!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      Olde Cashmere. Thank you for your wonderful comments and generous votes - your visits are very much appreciated.

      billybuc, thank you for stopping by and reading my article. When a worry crosses your path its good to let it pass, tranquility is a much better companion.

      torrilyn, Thank you for your generosity and kind comments, it is very much appreciated. I enjoy your interesting and diverse hubs.

      LadyLyell, you are right about calming down with age, that is me all over. My husband used to tell me that if I had nothing to worry about I would be worried about that! Thanks for the visit and your comments, lovely to hear from you!

      anupma, So glad you stopped to read my hub, as I too enjoyed visiting your very interesting hub. Thank you!

      Claudia Tello, I totally agree with your comments and as I feel I must listen to the new to keep up, I do try not to allow its negativity to affect me. I appreciated your time and your visit. Thank you.

      Rosemay50. Thank you, so nice to hear from you. I really like your quote, its not one I have heard before but now that I have, I'll keep its wisdom in mind.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Great hub and breakdown of the different types of stress and worry.

      The older I get the less I worry. A good quote is 'Never borrow sorrow from tomorrow' So I don't worry about what might or might not happen... what will be will be and we usually are able to work through it.

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

      I would say that avoiding the news is a good way to stop worrying about many things. Who wants to be updated on all the terrible thing that are happening in the world and how bad the economic situation is? This constant negativity really affects our state of mind in a bad way.

    • anupma profile image

      Dr Anupma Srivastava 5 years ago from India

      Yes, we must not worry about anything. Positive worry really creates new plans, but negative worries destruct the personality.

      You really write very well.

      Awesome hub.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      I was intrigued by the points made here showing how futile worry can be. I've worried too much myself over what never happened and never will. The older I get the less I worry, maybe one calms down with old age.

      Thanks for an interesting well written article!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 5 years ago

      Hi Shelley,

      really great information and organization that you have here in your hub

      I've learned a lot from the tips and techniques on controlling or helping

      your anxiety and worrying. thanks, Voted up and Shared.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We are pretty much worry-free around our household. Oh sure, anxiety will crop up occasionally, but for the most part we carry on without stress or concern. Great suggestions here my friend. Well done!

    • profile image

      Olde Cashmere 5 years ago

      This hub is beautifully written and contains key tools to overcome these mental blocks. Wonderful work CyberShelley. Voting up and will share. Also rated useful, awesome, and interesting :)

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      DDE Thank you for stopping. 'Let it be 'is a very good phrase to live by, we cannot change everything that makes us uncomfortable.

      Suhail and my dog. Funny you should say 'time is short and water rises', I too am getting older and wondering if I can fit in all the bush & desert adventures and river cruises I want to do before I need a walker. Ha ha.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 5 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      One of the best article I have ever read on this matter!

      For me, the phrase that describes my nature of worry is : "Time is short and water rises".

      This is also title of a book by wildlife conservationist John Walsh, which is my favorite.

      I worry that I am getting older and there are so many beautiful trails to hit. I am running out of time. LOL.

      I simply loved the informative hub.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have always tried not to be anxious or not to worry in any situation. I feel the best for me is to stop and think, be calm and let it be. Not everything in life can be avoided or prevented. You have made such good points here and totally agree with you.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      gsidley, have added a link to your hub on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, as it is very informative. (Please advise if you want me to remove the link.)

      janshares, Thank you for stopping by and leaving the kind comments.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      gsidley, Thank you so much for great comments, you are quite right about the positive beliefs. So glad to have you, will return the favour.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Great hub, excellent breakdown of different types of worry, excellent suggestions that can really help someone. And great quotes. Voted up and useful.

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 5 years ago from Lancashire, England

      A high quality hub full of useful information. And I loved the quotes.

      I would echo the importance of the futile striving for 100% certainty as a common maintenance factor. Another factor that maintains worry are the positive beliefs some people hold about the worry process itself, e.g. "Worrying shows I care." Some times these positive beliefs about worry need to be highlighted and challenged.

      Voted up and I'm you latest follower.