Worrying begins innocently enough; a mere uneasy feeling or concern regarding a problem. However, when worry becomes excessive it kicks into overdrive and begins to focus on what might happen. This is when anxiety, panic and hyper vigilance take over one's life. Worriers become hyper vigilant, and extremely sensitive to criticism, as well as things going on around them. They are looking for a potential threat due to the fact that they are expecting doom. This feeling of always being "on guard" is what causes their search to seek relief, and they do that by developing addictive behaviors such as smoking, over eating, drinking alcohol and using drugs.
We cannot talk about worry if we don't talk about anxiety. Anxiety is created by excessive worry, but anxiety is completely normal unless it becomes excessive. A stressful event such as an interview may leave you feeling a bit anxious, but that is normal and actually helps you perform better. The sort of anxiety that leads to panic disorder, social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder is not normal, and in fact affects about 40 million adults in the U. S. This is the kind of anxiety that begins to make destructive changes to the body and mind. When the worrier cannot shut down their worried thoughts the body begins to release stress hormones. These hormones are normal and necessary if you need to take an action because they raise blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that are used for fuel. When these hormones go up, you may experience these symptoms:
Since all of the excessive fuels that your hormones are making aren't being used for physical activity, your body is affected by the overload. Below is what may be happening to your body:
If excessive worrying and high anxiety go untreated, they can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts. Not everybody is affected the same way by excessive worry. Your body and its effectiveness at handling worry and stress determines whether you become ill.
No matter how worried or stressed you become, there are ways you can continue to care for your body that will minimize the effects of stress.
Adults have always felt a modest to high level of worry. However, when our children are increasingly experiencing heightened effects from worry it's time we all become better mentors for coping with stress and worry. Studies have shown that when parents model healthy ways of coping with stress, their children follow these behaviors. Teaching your children to talk openly about their worries and engaging them in exercise, nature walks, relaxation, as well as counseling, if necessary, is essential in promoting health in your family. It is unlikely that our children's lives or ours will become less stressful, but that doesn't mean we cannot be healthy and live a life free from excessive worry. -Mary Jo Rapini
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