Breaking the cycle of too much worrying

Counsellor Anna Dallavalle, of Stepping Stones.
Counsellor Anna Dallavalle, of Stepping Stones.

We all worry occasionally, and sometimes with good reason. Problems start when worrying gets out of hand.

Anxiety and worry are closely linked. Anxiety can manifest itself in different forms and excessive worrying is one of them. Ironically, this worrying leads to more anxiety and people end up in a vicious cycle.

People worry to a different degree, but in general, if our quality of life is compromised by constant worrying and we seem to be on alert all the time, then it’s time to do something about it.

Feelings, even unpleasant ones, serve a purpose. Anxiety, panic, and worry are all part of the way humans experience fear. Each involves the anticipation of danger or threat. Anxiety is a normal, emotional alarm response to the anticipation of danger, and worry stimulates us to find a solution to a problem.

People worry to a different degree, but in general, if our quality of life is compromised by constant worrying and we seem to be on alert all the time, then it’s time to do something about it.

Worriers will often report symptoms of difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep because of an over-active mind, muscle tension, poor concentration, stomach cramps and irritability. Each of these alone can impact quality of life, but worriers tend to experience more than one and this can make life really difficult.

How do we stop the cycle? The long-term solution is to understand the underlying factors of your anxiety so that you can reduce stress.

In the short-term, there are strategies that can help address the symptoms. Practice relaxation exercises daily. Breathing exercises are particularly helpful. This will help stop your racing mind and reduce muscle tension. It is important to practice as often as possible.

If the main problem is worrying in the night, keeping a notepad by the bed and writing down your worries may help. You can then rationally think through solutions during the day without losing valuable sleep time.

Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth. For information visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk