Worry is a natural emotion and, in some situations, it can help us be more productive. However, if you find yourself excessively worrying over everything in your life, it can have a significant negative impact on your health and wellbeing.
Toxic worrying can really take over your day to day life. If left untreated, it can also cause you to become sick. So, what exactly is toxic worrying and how can it impact your life? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know.
What is Toxic Worrying?
In the simplest terms, toxic worrying is a type of worry that you can’t control, and it often takes over your life.
With normal worries, you’ll be aware of them, but you’ll still manage to control the situation. With toxic worries, it’s like they replay over and over in a cycle. They are continuous and they actually prevent you from taking action to solve the problem.
Why does it happen?
There are a lot of things that can contribute to toxic worrying. The most common include:
These are just some of the main causes of toxic worry. Feeling insecure and vulnerable is one of the most common. The more vulnerable you feel, the more you’ll worry about the things around you. Similarly, if you feel like you don’t have control over a situation, it can lead to a lot of distress, frustration and worry.
Of course, there is also the fact that negativity breeds negativity. So, the more you worry, the bigger those worries will become. Toxic worrying often starts out as healthy worry. Then, the more you focus and concentrate on your concerns, the bigger they start to become until they eventually take over.
Finally, stress and anxiety can play a major role in worry. The more stressed you become, the worse your worries will be. It’s a vicious cycle.
How can it impact your life?
Toxic worrying can have a drastic impact on your health and wellbeing. The longer it continues, the worse the side effects will be.
You’ll start to notice your physical health is slowly deteriorating. Toxic worrying leads to issues with headaches, nausea, dizziness and stomach aches. High levels of worry and stress can have a drastic impact on their physical health. It reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, leading to a lot more minor illnesses.
As well as the physical symptoms, you’ll likely have trouble sleeping. You may struggle to fall asleep, or find it challenging to stay asleep. The minute you wake up you’ll also find your mind goes straight to worry.
Fatigue is another common symptom, and not just because of the interruptions to your healthy sleep cycle. Constant worrying is physically exhausting. Believe me, I know.
In extreme cases, toxic worrying can cause you to avoid things that you used to love. Thanks to my own toxic worrying, I rarely leave my house anymore. I’ve stopped talking to friends because I don’t have the energy for meaningful interactions.
I’ve even let this site go quite a bit. If you’re a regular, you know that I haven’t posted nearly as often as I used to. I’m so overwhelmed by stress every waking moment that it leaves very little room for anything else.
These are just some of the ways toxic worrying can impact your life. The longer it is left untreated, the worse it will become. So, identifying the signs of toxic worry and taking steps to combat the issue is crucial for your health and wellbeing.
Signs You’re a Toxic Worrier
Now you know what toxic worrying is, the question is how can you determine if you’re a toxic worrier?
There are lots of signs and symptoms you can watch out for. Identifying toxic worry early on gives you the best chance of getting it under control quickly.
Here, you’ll discover some of the most common signs you’re a toxic worrier.
Physical symptoms to watch out for
While worry is largely associated with mental and emotional symptoms, it can cause a lot of physical issues too. Just some of them include:
- Frequent stomach aches
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Dry and spotty skin
- Racing heartbeat
The stress caused by toxic worrying is what largely triggers the physical symptoms. Did you know for example, that the digestive system has a strong connection to your brain? So, when something is off, you’ll be prone to issues like stomach aches, indigestion, and more.
Toxic worrying also affects our eating habits. Some of us overeat, causing weight gain. Others completely lose their appetite and lose too much weight way too quickly.
Your resting heartrate is also a good indication of your stress level. The most I worry, the faster my heart beats. I’ve spent the better part of the last four years in a constant state of worry, anxiety, and dread. My heartrate rarely dips below 100 BPM, even when I’m sitting perfectly still.
You avoid situations
Often, when you worry so much about something, you’ll start to avoid it. Social worry is a good example of this.
Those who struggle with social related worry start to avoid going out or being in situations which make them uneasy. Those who worry consistently about money may start to avoid looking at bills and ignoring the problem.
Whatever it is you are worried about, your mind will come up with creative ways to avoid the situation. Unfortunately, this can have a detrimental effect on your mental health.
I definitely avoid things that me nervous. For example, parallel parking gives me massive anxiety. I literally will not go someplace where it’s the only option. I’ve parked half a mile away from restaurants and walked the rest of the way just to avoid parallel parking.
You tend to over-plan
A common symptom of toxic worry is over-planning. This means you’ll follow a strict routine, planning ahead for any eventuality.
If you fail to plan, it sends you into a panic. You won’t deal with the unexpected very well and change won’t be something you’re excited about.
I will say one thing about my propensity for over-planning, it’s come in super handy during power outages and other unexpected scenarios.
See, that’s the thing: with me, there are no “unexpected” scenarios because I literally plan for every single possibility imaginable. It’s not healthy, though. I know that.
Constant worry over the future
Do you constantly find yourself worrying over the future? If so, this could be a symptom of toxic worry.
There is nothing wrong with worrying a little over uncertainty. It’s natural to feel anxious and nervous over the future.
However, if you’re like me and spend half your life living in abject terror over what’s to come, you’ve crossed into “toxic worry” territory.
One of the tell-tale signs of toxic worrying is sleep troubles. When you have a lot on your mind, it’s extremely difficult to switch it off. This can mean you’ll find it really difficult to get off to sleep.
Or, you could find it difficult to stay asleep. Those who suffer from toxic worry tend to wake up frequently throughout the night. As soon as they awake, they begin worrying which in turn makes it hard to get back to sleep.
It is a vicious circle that can be really difficult to get out of. As you experience sleep troubles, it can also start to affect your health and wellbeing.
As you can see, there are a lot of symptoms of toxic worrying. The above are some of the most common you might recognize within yourself. If you do suspect you’re suffering with toxic worry, it’s important to take steps to start controlling it. The good news is, regardless of how bad the worries have become, there is help available to manage and eliminate it.
How to Manage Toxic Worrying
Identifying toxic worry is one thing but learning to manage it is entirely another. When you’re gripped by worry, it can be really difficult to switch it off. This is especially true if you’ve been dealing with toxic worrying for a long time.
So, how can you manage toxic worrying? Here, you’ll discover some of the best strategies you can follow. I’m working on implementing them into my own life, too.
Talk to someone you can trust
One of the best pieces of advice you can follow when you’re dealing with toxic worry, is to talk to someone. Bottling up your worries and keeping them to yourself is only going to make them worse. Take it from me, the girl who bottles things up and then explodes about once a year.
Often, when we express our worries and concerns, it takes some of the power away from them. The more you talk things through, the easier you’ll start finding it to manage your worries.
Plus, talking to someone else gives you the opportunity to identify solutions you might not have thought of. Even if it doesn’t, simply offloading your worries can make the world of difference.
If you don’t have a friend or family member you feel comfortable talking to, don’t be afraid to go to a professional. A therapist can help you identify the worry and help with the best ways to manage it.
One of the most common pieces of advice you’ll find when trying to deal with toxic worry, is to exercise regularly.
Have you ever noticed how great you feel after a good workout? When you exercise, the brain produced feel-good hormones. It helps to combat stress, worry and it boosts self-confidence.
If you’re low on confidence, this can actually be a cause of toxic worry. So, anything you can do to improve it, will also reduce how much you worry.
Other great benefits of exercising regularly for toxic worry include improved sleep, enhanced mood and better weight management.
Bring structure into your life
In order to combat worry, it can really help to have some level of structure in your life. This means, having a daily routine you can follow.
As a lot of worry centers around uncertainty, having a structure in place can prove invaluable. So, if you don’t currently have a routine, now is the time to start one.
Begin by creating a set morning and evening routine. Start small and introduce new healthier habits slowly. The more you work on your routine, the more in control you’ll feel of your life.
Get plenty of sleep
We’ve talked about the effects a lack of sleep can have on toxic worry. So, if you’re looking to eliminate the problem, you’re going to want to focus on getting plenty of sleep.
The question is, if toxic worry cases sleep disturbances, how can you get more of it? Well, it starts by creating the perfect sleep environment. Avoid technology for at least an hour prior to bed, make sure your bedroom is the right temperature and the room is clean and tidy.
You can also write a worry list either early in the morning or just before bed. This allows you to write down your worries, getting them out of your head.
Analyze your worries
Finally, another way to manage toxic worrying is to analyze your worries. That is, writing them down and identifying whether they are genuine worries.
You can look at what you are worrying about and why. Then, challenge how you think about that particular worry. Is there another way to look at the situation? If you keep imaging the worst-case scenario, switch it up and start focusing on the best-case scenario. This will train the mind to start focusing more on the positives.
Managing toxic worrying isn’t always easy. However, the tips above can really help. Remember, it’s going to take some practice to start managing the things you’re worried about, particularly if you’re a natural worrier. However, if you focus and persist on the above, you’ll soon start to see a reduction in how much you worry.