Anticipatory worrying vs. intelligent worrying

September 13, 2012

Excitement about the future is waning. Rather than projecting future advances in technology or imagining the next scientific discovery, people are predicting every circumstance that could lead to the end of the world. We just discovered a new monkey for goodness sake. How could the Mayan apocalypse more exciting than monkeys? This toxic anticipatory worrying can be debilitating and downright tiresome. You can’t really just quit worrying cold turkey like smoking. But maybe you can start worrying better?

Worrying can actually be a productive state, if managed correctly. Good or intelligent worrying allows for a constructive review of a problem. It’s sort of like good stress. And yes, there is such a thing as good stress. Good worrying allows us to reflect on previous experiences and get ahead of whatever is causing you distress. Review the potential consequences of the situation – both good and bad. See how unlikely most of your potential consequences are? Note how to monitor them if they do arise. Now, stop worrying and move on to doing something else. Do anything. Just stop worrying.

Sill find it hard to manage your worrying or stress? Share your concerns with someone else. It usually helps me to get another perspective and just talk it out. Things like getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy also go a long way. No matter how much edamame or unprocessed food I eat or how many 5Ks I run, insomnia is my biggest crux. When all else fails, and I find myself wide awake at 3 a.m., there’s nothing as quite comforting as a psychological study. Okay. It would be really comforting to fall sleep right now. But this recent study from SUNY Downstate Medical Center suggests excessive worrying correlates with high intelligence. Ignorance may be bliss, but at least my extreme state of worry (stress) means I’m smarter than the average bear. It sure beats worrying over why I’m worrying about not sleeping.

How to do you stop worrying? Better yet, have any tips for insomnia?

Image by Oy Photography

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