Distorted thinking is a critical component of worry. It must be dealt with to prevent anxiety and depression. Worry has three other elements.
When I worry I have trouble concentrating. I become restless. My mind jumps around and I know I am not getting anywhere. Sometimes my thought process stops suddenly as if it hit a wall.
From my early days as a computer systems engineer I’ve learned to take my problems to bed with me. My subconscious could ruminate. Often when I awoke I knew how to solve the problem. At other times, taking my problems to bed led to an uneasy sleep plagued by dreams in which challenges are never met. leaving me frazzled when I awake. Thank goodness, I am not a worrier. I prefer to think that I am a “wonderer” and a problem solver, so I welcome these natural and necessary restless periods.
Worry at its worst can include muscle tension, fatigue, insomnia, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, and nausea. These physiological symptoms are driven by your two nervous systems which are often explained using the analogy of a car. Our bodies, when we worry, are like cars in that they have both an accelerator and a brake.
The accelerator is called the sympathetic nervous system. When we worry we rev up our fight or flight response system. Many parts of our body spring into action and start to work faster – the heart rate, breathing, blood pressure; you tense up as blood moves away from your digestive tract to your muscles. Your body prepares to survive dangerous situations.
The brake is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Eventually the body has to slow down; in contrast to the fight or flight response, some call it the “rest and digest” system.
Worrying isn’t the problem – it’s what happens after it that is the issue.
If we take action to reduce anxiety head-on we are heading in the right direction. Some begin by talking to a trusted friend. Others, like me, prefer to figure it out on their own. They research and study in order to understand the important factors. Then they do something to change the situation.
Another, less direct, approach is to avoid anxiety. It’s a good idea to stay away from the sources of anxiety. If you can, dodge dealing with people who upset you. Spend your time with those you enjoy being with because you come away a better person after associating with them.
And now … the black side. You can escape from anxiety by denying it. Ignorance may be bliss for a while, but it may keep you from reaching your full potential.
The same applies to procrastination. It delays your progress as a human being. You might not be able to recover lost developmental opportunities.
Worry can be caused by your relationships. It can also effect your relationships. Your personality or style is the catalyst as well as a filter. What makes you irritable? … argumentative? … disconnect?
As you plunge into understanding the full scope of your reasons for worrying you will recognize the need to understand your self. Understanding personality in ourselves and others is a fascinating topic. That’s more than I had in mind when I started this series of blogs. Let’s just say for now that your worries reflect your personality, your needs, your fears, your values.
In summary, worry has four components: distorted thinking, physiology, behaviour, and interpersonal relationships.