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Understanding Worry and Anxiety

To improve your emotional intelligence, you should be aware of how to manage your many emotions, including worry and anxiety. Worry and anxiety represent two different approaches to troubling thoughts or situations. However, while worry can have positive effects, anxiety can have negative effects.

Worrying can assist you in reflecting upon and developing positive solutions to problems. On the other hand, chronic worry creates a cycle of anxiety and unproductive obsessive thoughts. Additional details about worry and anxiety, and some tips for dealing with these emotions, are provided below.


When a troublesome thought triggers the emotional brain, worry kicks in. Initially, this generates constructive reflection, enabling you to evaluate the problem and assess solutions in a risk-free manner. Worry can serve a number of other useful purposes, including the following:

  • When you’re threatened, worry enables you to assess your options, rehearse methods for dealing with them, and reflect upon desired outcomes.
  • Worry enables you to catastrophize – that is, to imagine the worst-case scenario. When you catastrophize, you imagine a series of terrible thoughts without a visual component. Because catastrophizing is expressed only as thoughts, not images, it does not leave a lasting impression.
  • Worry can suppress the physiological effects of anxiety. When you’re worrying, your mind is occupied with a number of thoughts; meanwhile, anxious sensations are lessened because the mind is distracted from the original triggering thought.


While worrying can have some positive effects, anxiety is a strictly negative experience. Anxiety focuses attention solely on the issue at hand and moves the mind to obsessing. This leads to an endless cycle of inflexibility and unrealistic perceptions, and limits an individual’s ability to develop creative solutions.

Anxiety causes physiological reactions such as sweating, a racing heart, and muscle tension. It causes an individual to ruminate on dangers of all kinds – even things that have no chance of happening. Anxious people see trouble at every corner. In extreme cases, some people can even become addicted to anxiety.

Research has shown that the first step in minimizing anxiety is self-awareness. You need to train yourself to identify situations that trigger worry, images that prompt worry, and sensations that signal anxiety in the body. Once aware of anxious thoughts, you should actively challenge them. To do this, you should question your assumptions and maintain a healthy skepticism about the occurrence of worst-case scenarios.

Worrying puts you in a frame of mind that enables you to rehearse and evaluate possible solutions, while anxiety builds on itself and leads to unproductive, obsessive behavior. Learn to recognize the difference between worry and anxiety, and remember that worrying is a natural, healthy emotional response to troubling thoughts and situations.

However, anxiety can have negative effects. Therefore, practice the techniques described above to deal with anxiety, and minimize its negative effects. Using these techniques, you can work to improve your overall emotional health.