It’s been said that worry is the interest we pay on debts we may not owe.
And the interest we pay is often astronomical. Excessive worry can take a real toll on our life by fueling stress, a proven threat to our health, happiness and work performance.
How much worry is too much? Here are five signs that you may be too fretful, and some ideas for calming that worry before it gets out of control, courtesy of Forbes magazine.
1. Always looking for threats. Are you the guy who can find a dark lining in a silver cloud? You’re not alone. Many of us are constantly scanning for the next problem or threat, which leads to non-stop worry.
Learn to be more analytical in your assessment of events. Try separating the emotion of anxiety from your assessment of what’s really happening. Recognize when you are going to the worst-case scenario instead of seeing reality.
2. Trouble sleeping. This is a vicious cycle. Worry keeps you awake, and lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to worry.
Improve your chances of a good night’s sleep by avoiding your digital devices for at least an hour before bed. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep — quiet and peaceful. Consider meditating before bed to settle your mind and body.
3. Holding on to upsetting moments. Do you have trouble recovering from confrontations or hard conversations? Constantly replaying such encounters in search of mistakes or missed opportunities is stressful and unproductive.
Take a walk after such moments. Moving helps many people clear their minds. A short stroll can make you feel relaxed and ready to undertake an honest, realistic mental review of what really happened, and how you can do better next time.
4. Feeling unheard. We often unconsciously expect colleagues to read our minds, to know what we want and need. When that doesn’t happen we can get resentful.
The answer: better communication. Don’t expect people to intuit or guess your needs. Make sure you’ve provided your staff with clear direction and expectations. If you have a problem with peer or boss, talk to them about your concern.
5. Racked with guilt. Do you fret that you’ve upset your boss simply by asking him a follow-up question about that complicated project? Do you feel bad about contradicting a colleague in a meeting, even when you know she’s mistaken? Guilt can lead us to worry about every little interaction.
Do a reality check when you start to feel guilty about a situation. Ask yourself how you would have reacted in the other person’s role. If you were the boss, wouldn’t you want a team member to dig down to get the information necessary for the project? If so, do you really think the boss was upset by your questions?
If you see yourself in this list, I’ve got a great book for you to read. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie is one of my favorites. The master of self-improvement goes in-depth on the dangers of worry and offers some very concrete, often spiritually-based strategies for letting go of worry.