Worrying is pretty much the worst. It's those needling thoughts that seem to take over everything, making it impossible to concentrate on the present, relax, or even sometimes get to sleep at night.
Worry, though, is also part of life. We all have things that we have to worry about, be it kids, finances, or whatever new curveball life's thrown at you lately.
In some cases, worrying is actually good for us. It makes us consider the possible outcomes of a situation, and helps us prepare for any of them. Worrying is a method of anticipating what might come next, and helps us be able to adapt and make the most of any outcome.
But when worry takes over, it can cripple us. It can interfere with decision-making, make us second-guess ourselves, and lead to a sense of paralysis in everyday life as we keep asking ourselves, "What if...?" In extreme cases, excess worrying can be a sign of a serious condition like generalized anxiety disorder.
Even worse is that worry doesn't just damage us emotionally. The stress from worry can take a very physical toll on us, too.
Below, you'll see all the things worry can do to your body. But this isn't just another thing to worry about! If you find yourself caught in a vicious cycle of worry and stress, try to consciously take note of it and work on breaking that cycle.
If you need support, consider talking to a professional who can teach you some skills to soothe your worrying habits.
Scroll through to read more about how stress can damage your body:
Constant Worrying: 6 Ways It Can Damage Your Body And Mind
Constant Worrying: 6 Ways It Can Damage Your Body And Mind
What Are The Side Effects Of Worrying?
Worry Effect #1: Insomnia
We’ve all been kept up at night by something in our lives, but if it’s a common occurrence, it can get very serious.
Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Not getting enough sleep can do all kinds of awful physical and mental damage, and can make you just hopeless when it comes to functioning the next day.
Another bedroom effect of worrying? Your libido takes a nosedive, which can also lead to relationship issues.
Plus, sex is a natural stress-reliever, so you’ll end up twice as stressed out.
Worry Effect #2: Digestive Issue
For many people, worry is characterized by a feeling of tightness or heaviness in the stomach, like all your organs have been tied up in a big knot.
Worry and anxiety affect our digestive systems and can lead to issues, like heartburn and ulcers. It can also lead to weight gain.
This is because a millennia ago, humans’ biggest cause for worry was not having enough food. So even to this day, when we’re stressed, we store weight.
Worry Effect #3: Memory Problems
While worrying might make us more prepared for problems, in some cases, it usually only causes more problems by consuming our consciousness and distracting us from what’s actually going on.
If you’re all wrapped up in worry, you’re less likely to remember where you put your keys, or to grab that bill that’s due on your way out, thus causing yourself more stress.
Worry Effect #4: Skin And Hair Damage
Worry and stress cause the body to release cortisol, which can trigger acne breakouts, and adrenaline, another stress hormone that can cause hair loss when converted into cholesterol.
The worst part of this is that for many people, especially women, appearances are considered very important. A breakout or thinning of hair will only cause more worry and stress.
Worry can also take a toll on your appearance due to habits like chewing your lips, biting your nails, or tugging on your hair.
Worry Effect #5: Fertility Issues
Worrying sends hormones all out of whack, and some women find that, due to stress, they have trouble conceiving.
Why? Well, no one’s really sure. It might be that there are too many hormones zinging around, complicating the normal conception process.
It may also be evolutionary, with the body avoiding conception during highly stressful times.
Worry Effect #6: Heart And Cholesterol Problems
Adrenaline, that “rushy” feeling, gets converted to cholesterol in the body, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
Worrying also causes heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which can also lead to heart and circulatory issues.
And now that we’ve got you all worried about what worrying can do to you, check out these tips to break your worrying cycle, learn to calm down, and live in the present.
How Can I Stop Worrying So Much?
Calming Tip #1: Realize That You Are Worrying
This may sound weird in its simplicity, but sometimes just making yourself aware that you’re worrying can help ease that worry.
If you find yourself replaying that time you dropped a spoon at a party over and over, or if you’re going through all of the horrible things that might happen to you on your commute, take a moment and remind yourself: “Hey. I’m worrying again.” It will jog you out of the cycle.
Calming Tip #2: Talk It Out
One of the reasons we worry so much is that we’re not letting those thoughts out of our heads, but keeping them inside to rattle around.
The next time you’re anxious about something, speak up! Tell a friend or loved one that the news has been getting you down, or that you’re anxious about an upcoming holiday or event.
Your friends and family probably have worries of their own, maybe even some of the same ones!
As a bonus, you’ll be creating a space where you, family, and friends can feel comfortable talking over your worries together.
Calming Tip #3: Start A Relaxation Habit
When we feel stressed, a lot of us just keep plowing ahead, which can cause the worries to stack up.
Instead, make a habit of doing something relaxing every day. It can be going for a walk, meditating, reading, or doing a hobby. But try to do it regularly and let your worries melt away.
Calming Tip #4: Be Realistic
When you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself what is the likelihood of your worries coming true.
If you find yourself worrying about all those wild what ifs, take a moment to really consider how likely something is.
If it seems extremely unlikely, or if worrying won’t immediately solve the issues on your mind, then it’s probably not worth worrying about.
Calming Tip #5: Remember All The Times Things Turned Out Great
Remember all those times you worried in the past, but everything turned out ok?
The next time you’re agonizing over something, calm yourself by remembering all the things that ended up working out well — or at least not terribly — and it may help to put things in perspective.
Calming Tip #6: Consider Professional Help
If you’ve been trying to calm down and can’t, or if you find that your worry is really eating into your everyday life, it may be the sign of something more serious, like an anxiety disorder.
If that’s the case, speak with a professional. They can create a personalized plan of treatment that’s tailored to your needs, and help work out any underlying issues that may be contributing to your worry.