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How To Worry Well: The Key To Overcoming Anxiety & Developing Resilience

Updated: Nov 1

Historically, people have associated worry with negative feelings. Is it feasible, though, that anxiety serves a useful purpose but that we simply don't tend to apply it to its full potential? Martin L. Rossman, MD, PhD, asserts that anxiety really helps us think creatively and solve issues better because it helps us adapt. Everyone can learn how to worry effectively.

One of the main mental abilities that sets humans apart from other living things is imagination, which produces worry. Both worry and fantasy are founded on recalling the past and making predictions about the future. We would not be concerned if we lacked imagination. Two sides of the same coin, they are.

Dr. Martin L. Rossman makes fun of the fact that this is essentially what lobotomies are for, as well as the purpose of the majority of anxiety drugs. In exchange for losing our imagination, we may safely undergo a "imaginectomy" to get rid of worry. In order to be more creative, we should work to improve how we use our imagination.

What separates Stress, Anxiety, and Concern..

Despite the tight ties between worry, anxiety, and stress, there are some key distinctions to be aware of in order to begin worrying effectively.


Thinking on the past or the future repeatedly or ruminatively. Ironically, while many of the things we worry about may never materialise or may not have actually occurred, our minds may interpret them in a way that thinks concern was what stopped the negative occurrence from occurring.

The prefrontal cortex, or reasoning section of the brain, is where worry occurs.


A physical reaction such as perspiration and a racing heart are commonly present along with an unsettling feeling of fear, dread, or trepidation that is felt in the chest or stomach.

The limbic system, sometimes referred to as the emotional brain, is where anxiety originates.


A bodily reaction (fight or flight) to a threat, whether real or imagined. Although stress was created by nature to ensure human survival, there are numerous real and imagined hazards in today's world.

An increase in blood flow to your muscles and a surge in cortisol and adrenaline are its defining features.

They're not all horrible in and of themselves. A symptom you need to pay attention to in order to identify what is causing your worry is short-term anxiety, for example, which can be an indication that something is not quite right. You might not have looked at your finances in the past or you might be uneasy with a scenario at work. Another built-in survival strategy is stress, which is a response to a threat. Your body going into stress mode if the threat is real is beneficial.

If either is excessively prolonged or intense, both are bad. Those who experience panic attacks, a severe form of anxiety, find them to be quite upsetting. On the body and the mind, chronic stress has a horrible effect. Worry can be both positive and negative; the same is true of it.

Unproductive Anxiety versus Productive Concern

It may seem counterintuitive to worry well. "Good" worry" that is functional foresees issues and finds solutions. Instead of hiding your head in the sand, worrying about certain upcoming occurrences is productive. These are real concerns, for example: "I worry I won't be able to find a suitable school" or "I worry I won't be able to afford for my kid's education." Is it likely that I could take action to address this? is the main question you can ask yourself to determine whether a worry is functional or not. ”

Unproductive anxiety (or "bad" worry) is cyclical, ingrained, and almost magical. You feel terrified, which is not helpful because fear impairs your ability to think clearly, and it doesn't lead to any solutions. I'm concerned the world is going to end in December, says Dr. Rossman, but even if that were true, there wouldn't have been much you could have done about it. You might as well put that on your "bad" worry list.

How can you distinguish the difference in practise when you can't change it? Dr. Rossman quotes the Serenity Prayer, which begins, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference," but for those who are not religious, he suggests leaving out the word "God" and concentrating on everything that follows. It's a straightforward mantra that can help you distinguish between issues you can control and anxieties you cannot.

How do you gain more knowledge if you are unsure about a particular concern?

  • Consult those you consider to be wise. These might be close friends, mentors, or those who have assisted you in the past in resolving challenging situations.

  • What do WWJ/B/DL/Y do? What would Yoda, the Dalai Lama, Jesus, Buddha, and/or the Jedi do? This fictitious method can be used if you don't have access to a wise buddy or teacher. When friends confide in us with their problems, we typically don't have trouble offering counsel, but we often struggle to offer the same kind of support to ourselves. What, given this situation, would you think a truly smart person would do?

  • Metaphors for inner wisdom. You may even enter a relaxed, meditative state and picture yourself conversing with a knowledgeable person (perhaps your wise grandmother) while strolling in a garden. It might sound bizarre. You can approach your issues using the wisdom you get from this activity.

As you learn to worry effectively, you may transform your negative worries into good ones—whether worries you accept if the situation is beyond your control or ones you can act upon.

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