Worry is when you feel uneasy, troubled or concerned that bad things could happen

Everyone worries. It is part of being human to worry. Usually worries come and go as you move through your day, and while they are troubling, they do not cause fear. You are more likely to be able to useyour problem solving skills to deal with a worry. Worry is different to anxiety because you are more likely to be able to switch off from a worry; it’s harder to switch anxiety off.

What do you worry about

Have you ever had the feeling that you worry too much – that you are going crazy because you worry about money, health, family, getting older, where you live, how you look, your safety, your job, your study, that you don’t have a job you like, and the list can go on and on... In fact you worry so much you think you could probably be crowned “worrier of the year”.

According to a survey by the Australian Psychological Society, the top 3 worries for women are about:

  • Money
  • Health, and
  • Family

It is nice to know, you are not alone. Maddie worries her body is changing and she can’t do a thing about it. Sue worries she isn’t going to be able to pay her credit card bill at the end of the month. In fact she worries about this every month. Sally worries whether her family are getting enough healthy foods and she will be judged a bad mother because they probably aren’t!  Andrea worries that her partner seems unhappy and she doesn’t know what to do to make her partner happier. Kate worries she isn’t around enough for her mum.

What happens when you worry

Worries can affect your appetite; you might not feel like eating or you can’t stop eating. You can become irritable, find it difficult to sleep and find yourself starting to think in a more negative way. There is a sense that something is not quite right and you would just like that feeling to go away.

No one worry is right or wrong. Sometimes worries seem strange. Izzy used to worry when she was younger that if she swallowed an apple pip an apple tree would grow inside her. Even though she is not worried now, she always cuts her apples up carefully making sure to remove all pips. Robyn always takes her phone to the bathroom in case she gets stuck in there. Mary worries that one day a bolt will come off a 747 jet as it flies over her house and come crashing into her roof. None of these worries stop the women from getting on with their life though.

Sometimes worries are contradictory – you might worry about spiders big or small, poisonous, non-poisonous, and yet you are quite happy to go skydiving and throw yourself out of a perfectly good plane!

Causes of worry

You are more likely to worry if you:

  • Don’t take care of your lifestyle:
    a poor diet and lack of physical activity can make you more prone to worry
  • Are not getting enough quality sleep:
    being tired increases how sensitive you are to feelings of uneasiness and doubt
  • Have a personality that:
    • Is more sensitive to doubt
    • Causes you to focus on the negative
  • Let the everyday stress of life get to you:
    the layering effect of not enough time, too many emails to answer, too many messages to return and endless busy-ness can really start to trouble you
  • Don’t make time for you
  • Have learned to worry:
    perhaps because your trust has been broken in the past and you now know that things are not always okay

What protects you from worry

Making sure you have the healthiest lifestyle you can; caring about your diet and being active can help you cope when you worry.  

The best protection is using strategies that:

  • Allow you to challenge negative thinking
  • Are focused on finding solutions to problems you are worried about
  • Reduce stress
  • Provide you with support

What to do

When worries disrupt or interfere with your daily life or turn to fear, then you need to do something about them. If you think this is happening you may find it helpful to move to our section on anxiety and consider the information there. 

If you would like to know more about worries at different times in your life, click on one or more of the stages of life relevant to you. For each stage you will find information on the kinds of worry you might experience at that time in your life, some common causes of worry, and a link to a toolkit to give you strategies to help with worry.

Not sure? Use our quick self assessment tool to check.

About Jean Hailes

Jean Hailes is Australia’s leading and most trusted women’s health organisation. We believe in physical and emotional health and wellbeing in all its dimensions for all women in Australia throughout their lives.

We offer a range of free resources and easy to understand information on women’s health and wellbeing. Appointments at our specialist women’s health clinics can be made in person (East Melbourne and Clayton, VIC) or across Australia via our Telehealth consultation service. www.jeanhailes.org.au

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