We are currently living in an unprecedented and unusually stressful time, with the Covid-19 virus affecting nearly all of us in one way or another. It is highly likely that within the last few hours you have given in to the urge to worry about some aspect of how it may impact your life or the life of someone you love, both short term and long term.
So, let’s take a look at what worry really is in order to help us manage our feelings and behaviors more effectively.
Even under normal circumstances worry comes naturally to most of us, so it is important to consider the importance of learning how to minimize the destructive nature of worry while still effectively navigating the unavoidable, and sometimes very scary, challenges and uncertainties of life.
As a psychologist, I have worked with hundreds of people who struggle with acute and chronic worry, and it can be very emotionally, psychologically, and physically debilitating.
Generally speaking, worry is more often harmful than helpful. As it’s been said, worry can't change the past or make things better for tomorrow, but it can rob you of peace and joy today. Worry is defined as giving way to anxiety or unease and involves allowing one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
The effects of worry can include headaches, digestive illness, high blood pressure, irritability, sleep problems, memory lapses, feelings of hopelessness and depression, and the list goes on. People who frequently worry will ultimately undermine their performance, productivity, relationships and health, while rarely effecting positive changes to whatever they are worried about. It’s clearly an exercise in futility.
Again, we all have the natural tendency to engage in worry. In fact, researchers have found that a mild degree of worry can actually benefit a person. To help my patients learn to minimize or eliminate the habit of worry, I encourage them to work on learning to respond to life's real challenges and uncertainties with healthy concern.
Having healthy concern about a situation can help you anticipate possible problems and discover better ways of handling them in advance. This is the instinct that tells you to bring a first aid kit on your camping trip, to have extra batteries on hand in case of a power outage, to make a doctor’s appointment if you have suspicious physical symptoms and to cooperate with social distancing during a pandemic.
Having healthy concern can still produce symptoms of anxiety, but you can learn to effectively manage them by choosing to focus on rational, balanced, realistic and positive thoughts.
Healthy concern is what leads to an increased sense of control, enhanced problem-solving and decision-making, and positive action resulting in preventing or minimizing a real crisis.
To sum it up, worry will likely immobilize you with fear and anxiety while possessing healthy concern will motivate you to discover solutions and make constructive rational choices.
If we all work to possess healthy concern instead of worry, we will get through this current crisis in a more effective, collaborative, and unifying fashion.
Live, Work and Relate Well!
At Relational Advantage, we are concerned for our patients’ and clients’ wellbeing. Our office remains open to provide ongoing services during this time of uncertainty and we are making every effort to sanitize surfaces and maintain a safe environment. We are also providing services via Doxy.me (a video telehealth platform) or telephone in order to protect the vulnerable if you wish to conduct your appointment from home.*
*Applies to Arizona residents only, in compliance with State licensure.