The mental effects of worry: 6 symptoms to be aware of
Worry is one of the most pointless emotions that you can experience. You waste a lot of precious time and energy worrying about an event which might never take place. Even if there is a chance of the event occurring, you would be far better off spending the time working to avoid it, than worrying about it. The big issue with worry is that once you start worrying about something, it quickly snowballs out of control. The mental effects of worry, when they build up, have a massive impact on your life. The mental effects of worry are varied but they quickly turn you into a negative, pessimistic person who sees danger around every corner.
6 Mental effects of worry
The following are a sample of the most common mental effects of worry. They can take over your entire life and leave you unable to function effectively.
This may be one of the least familiar of the mental effects of worry but it really does play havoc with your life. When you are hypervigilant, you are constantly on the lookout for threats. You start to notice every small thing which could possibly be perceived as a threat. Vigilance is a good think but with hypervigilance, you take it way past the point of reason.
Last year, I experienced hypervigilance after my home had been broken into twice in a short period of time. I had trouble sleeping as I was hearing every sound during the night. Some of these sounds were coming from a long way away but my hypervigilance was causing me to notice them. My ability to function effectively was seriously diminished for many weeks.
2. Reduced concentration
When you have worries on your mind, you are constantly ruminating on them. You become incapable of focusing on the present moment. If you are talking to someone who is preoccupied with worry, you will notice that they are unfocused and they drift in and out of the conversation. Poor concentration is the most visible of the mental effects of worry.
When you are overcome with worry, you cannot focus and you cannot think properly. When faced with a difficult decision, you are incapable of defining the problem and thoroughly considering your options. This limits your ability to be decisive.
4. Overplaying risk
No matter what you do in life, there is some risk or opportunity cost involved. This is something which you have to accept about life. However, one of the mental effects of worry is that you start to overplay the risk involved and imagine all the things that could possibly go wrong.
Worriers are more pessimistic. You expect things to go wrong, your self-esteem decreases and soon you start to fulfil your pessimistic predictions because you do not even try. Take somebody who is worried about delivering a presentation. They start to worry and believe that they will do a poor job. Their worry and pessimism prevents them from putting in the necessary preparation and practice. Now, either they decide not to deliver the presentation or they do it underprepared which causes them to do a poor job. Either way, they fulfil their pessimistic predictions.
6. You become problem-focused rather than solution-focused
The most effective people are solution-focused. When they face a problem, they focus on finding a solution rather than investigating the cause. Worriers see a problem and become obsessed with the problem. As a simple example, when treated badly by a friend a problem-focused worrier will focus on why the friend has treated them this way and will often start to attribute the blame to themselves. A solution-focused person will assert themselves, make it clear how they expect to be treated and, if necessary, they will remove that friend from their life.
The mental effects of worry are many and varied. They can turn you into a negative, pessimist who sees problems and threats everywhere. When you fail to tackle the mental effects of worry, you begin a downward spiral which removes the joy from your life. You become incapable of concentrating or functioning effectively. The results which you achieve steadily get worse. The mental effects of worry can ruin lives and all over something(s) which were probably never going to happen. Worry truly is a useless emotion.
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