Just as Hamlet contemplated whether it was better to live or die in one of the most memorable lines of a Shakespeare play, we should contemplate whether to worry or not, considering the potential it could have on our health and well-being.
Do you know anyone who worries all the time about everything? Work, family, kids, future, economy, politics, weather, big things, little things, anything. Perhaps you are one of them. I used to be one of them! When we worry, we create a certain set of thoughts and emotions, it affects our body language, and it directs our behaviors. Underneath all of what we see and feel, we are triggering the release of hormones and neurotransmitters that affect the cells of our body and brain. All of this worry can impact our health, typically in a negative way.
Most of us are aware that constant worry, especially when we don’t have control over something, is not good for us. In other words, worry without reasonable action is pretty pointless. Chronic worry robs us of energy we could use on something else and can create a negative mindset, causing us to feel helpless. It can even lead to maladaptive behaviors in order to create control or avoid uncontrollable situations, such as obsessive-compulsive or phobic tendencies.
So, how about those people who never worry about anything? They just go with the flow and let everything around them just happen. Are they better off? Well, there is also evidence to suggest that never being worried isn’t good for you either. Worry is a trigger for action and without some worry there isn’t a need to take actions or even precautions! We need a little strategic worry to be conscientious in our lives and do what needs to get done (and we also need some to keep ourselves safe). People without sufficient worry, especially in situations where they can control or impact the outcome, may not have a trigger to take action. This can affect work, personal safety, relationships, and health. For example, you have to worry enough about your health to get regular check-ups, eat better, exercise regularly, take health precautions, seek medical advice, etc.
So the answer to the question To Worry or Not To Worry is to do both! Worry when you can control one or more aspects of the situation or take action that can change the outcome. But remember that worry must always be followed by reasonable action! And when you do something about it, the worry fades away. Don’t worry when you cannot control any part of the situation or change the outcome in any way. This is when you have to go with the flow. This might take practice, but will get easier over time, especially when you see the amount of brain space and energy that gets freed up for other things!
Each time you feel yourself worrying about something, write it down and then answer this question:
Can I make a difference in this situation or control any part of it?
No: Not worth worrying about, practice redirecting your energy to something else.
Yes: Write down at least one thing that you can do about it. Then create a plan to do it. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you want, you will feel good that you did what you could to influence the situation or outcome. Regret only comes in when we don’t try.
Worry is a combination of thoughts and emotions that we have the ability to control. Understanding the impact that it can have on your health and well-being is critical. Don’t let worry get in the way of you living your life. Save your worries for those moments in your life in which you can take action and make a difference. My wish to you is that from this moment forward you choose to worry wisely!