“Poor Mr. Worry. Whatever happened, he worried about it. If it rained, he worried that his roof was going to leak. If it didn’t rain, he worried that all the plants in his garden were going to die. If he set off shopping, he worried that the shops will be shut when he got there. And when the shops weren’t shut when he got there, he worried that he was spending too much money shopping.”
Does this story sound familiar? Perhaps you are a worrier or you know someone who is? It’s true that we all worry from time to time, but what should we do when it becomes all-consuming like it did for poor Mr. Worry?
The clinical term for what Mr. Worry seems to be going through is Generalised Anxiety Disorder, so let’s explore some of the signs that you may notice when this condition is affecting your day to day life.
Your head feels like a washing machine on a never ending spin cycle. You can’t get ‘what ifs’ out of your head, and may find that you are jumping from one anxious thought to another, even worrying about things which you know would seem silly to others. Uncertainty seems to lurk behind every corner and, understandably, you feel vulnerable and anxious.
This spin cycle doesn’t even stop at night when we go to bed, in fact it may seem worse as there isn’t anything to take your mind off it. You’re left alone with those worries running round and round in your head. As a result of course you don’t sleep well, which leads to feeling tired during the day, struggling to concentrate, and of course the possibility of being irritable with those around you who get caught in the crossfire.
You can find that you are always assuming the worst will happen. For example you could win the holiday of a lifetime, but straight away you’re worrying about whose going to feed the cat, what you will forget to pack, being late for the flight, and – worse still – the plane crashing!
You might experience a general feeling of dread, doom, and anxiety about the future, like a dark cloud which follows you around and affects the way you see the world and the things you do. In an attempt to regain a sense of control and to feel better, you may avoid or put off doing things that you are worried about, for example you might stop opening mail or picking up the phone. You may constantly check that your loved ones are safe and ask for their reassurance that everything is going to be okay. You may also find yourself over-planning for the worst case scenario, making endless ‘to do’ lists, and checking things over and over again ‘just in case’.
The problem with all this worry is that it doesn’t get us anywhere; it’s a bit like being a hamster in a wheel. There we are putting all of our mental energy into worrying and it never actually solves any of our problems – in fact it only adds to them, as it leaves us feeling tired, grumpy, anxious and low.
You may feel that you’ve always been a worrier or it might be a relatively new thing which you can link to something like a stressful time at work, exams, being a carer or becoming a parent.
Whatever the underlying cause may be the good news is that you can learn strategies and techniques to help you manage worry better and feel more control over the day-to-day things which are stressing you out.
I offer friendly and professional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is the NICE-recommended treatment for Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, you will learn more about worry and why it is a problem for you at the moment. You will learn ways of coping better with uncertainty and find more helpful ways of dealing with any current problems you may be facing. You’ll also find ways of coping with those worries about the more ‘far-fetched’ things which are unlikely to ever come true – like that plane crash. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in then please just contact me to book an assessment appointment.