Shutting yourself in at home or self-isolating during the Coronavirus pandemic causes enough worry and anxiety, but for those suffering from toxic worrying, it can be too much to handle. For those who haven’t heard of toxic worrying, this article explains everything in detail and how to help manage it during these very stressful times.

You might be surprised to find that you might be affected by this or someone you care about.

What is Toxic Worrying?

Worry is a natural emotion and, in some situations, it can help us be more productive. However, if you find yourself excessively worrying over everything in your life, it can have a significant negative impact on your health and wellbeing.

Toxic worrying can really take over your day to day life. If left untreated, it can also cause you to become sick. So, what exactly is toxic worrying and how can it impact your life? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know.

What is it?

Toxic worrying is where your worries take over your life. You’ll worry excessively, which in turn leads to a number of health and wellbeing issues.

With normal worries, you’ll be aware of them, but you’ll still manage to control the situation. With toxic worries, it’s like they replay over and over in a cycle.

They are continuous and they actually prevent you from taking action to solve the problem.

So, toxic worrying is a type of worry that you can’t control, and it often takes over your life.

Why does it happen?

There are a lot of things that can contribute to toxic worrying. The most common include:

  • Feeling vulnerable and insecure
  • Lack of control
  • Negativity breeds negativity
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Stress

These are just some of the main causes of toxic worry. Feeling insecure and vulnerable is one of the most common. The more vulnerable you feel, the more you’ll worry about the things around you. Similarly, if you feel like you don’t have control over a situation, it can lead to a lot of distress, frustration, and worry.

Of course, there is also the fact that negativity breeds negativity. So, the more you worry, the bigger those worries will become. Toxic worrying often starts out as healthy worry. Then, the more you focus and concentrate on your worries, the bigger they start to become until they eventually take over.

Toxic worrying can also be a sign of a more severe anxiety disorder. Worry is a common symptom of anxiety and if left untreated, it can quickly take over your life.

Finally, stress can play a major role in worry. The more stressed you become, the worse your worries will be.

How can it impact your life?

The trouble with toxic worrying, is that it can have a drastic impact on your health and wellbeing. The longer the worry continues, the worse the side effects will be.

You’ll start to notice your physical health is slowly deteriorating. Toxic worrying leads to issues with headaches, nausea, dizziness and stomach aches. Many people are unaware that high levels of worry and stress can have a drastic impact on their physical health. It reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, leading to a lot more minor illnesses.

As well as the physical symptoms, you’ll commonly have trouble sleeping. You may struggle to fall asleep, or you may have trouble staying asleep. The minute you wake up you’ll also find your mind goes straight to worry.

Fatigue is another common symptom. When you spend so much time worrying, it starts to wear you out mentally.

This can leave you feeling constantly tired, particularly if you’re also having trouble sleeping.

In extreme cases, toxic worrying can cause you to avoid things. You could start to avoid going out for example, or you avoid certain situations to reduce the worry. When it starts to interfere with your daily life, that’s when you need to look into managing it.

These are just some of the ways toxic worrying can impact your life. The longer it is left untreated, the worse it will become. Therefore, identifying the signs of toxic worry and taking steps to combat the issue is crucial for your health and wellbeing. 

Understanding the Different Types of Toxic Worrying

Did you know that there are different types of worriers? If you’re looking to control your toxic worry, it helps to understand which type you’re suffering with.

There are a lot of different types of toxic worry. Below, we’ll look at some of the main types you may be experiencing.

Generalized toxic worry

With generalized toxic worry, there is no one cause. You’ll worry about everything from finances to relationships. The worry is continuous, and it really impacts your day to day life.

This is actually the most common type of worry. You’ll find it hard to get a break from the worry and anxiety, and there may be no particular trigger.

feeling anxiety depression in social settings

Social worry

how you come across in social situations. You’ll feel uncomfortable around people and fear being judged by those around you.

There are different levels of severity with social worry. It may simply make you feel uncomfortable and anxious while you’re out. Or, in severe cases it could make you avoid social situations completely.

Perfection worry

None of us are perfect. However, those suffering with perfection worry tend to feel like they should be. You’ll scrutinize everything you do, berating yourself for not doing better.

It could be perfectionism at work, at home or within your social circle. While a little perfectionism can actually be healthy, too much quickly becomes toxic.

With this type of worry, it causes extreme distress if you don’t do things as well as you feel you should. It can impact productivity and prevent you from taking on opportunities as you’ll start to believe you won’t be good enough

Fear of making mistakes

Fear is a common emotion, but it can easily take over your life. This is especially true when you’re scared of making mistakes.

The truth is, we all make mistakes and it is how we learn from them that makes us better ourselves. When you have toxic worry relating to the fear of making a mistake, you’ll start to avoid taking on opportunities.

If you do suffer a failure, you’ll take it personally. You’ll struggle to move on, and you’ll spend most of your time worrying about what you did wrong.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In some cases, toxic worry can be related to post-traumatic stress disorder. While this is the least common type of toxic worrying, it can still be a potential cause.

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With this type of toxic worrying, it occurs after a stressful and traumatic experience. It could be an accident you’ve suffered, or a death of a loved one for example. In order to avoid going through the experience again, your mind starts to worry more, and you’ll be triggered by a variety of things that remind you of the incident.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition which requires professional treatment.

Why recognizing your toxic worry is important

So, why is recognizing the type of toxic worry you’re experiencing important?

The different types of toxic worry have a slightly different impact on your health and wellbeing. They also require a different form of management. Some will require professional help, while others can be managed successfully by yourself.

It is only after you have identified the type of toxic worry you’re experiencing, that you can work out how to get past it.

Toxic worrying can have a debilitating impact on your life. The above are some of the main types of toxic worry you may recognize in yourself. No matter what type of worry you’re dealing with, it’s important to find a way to treat it before it worsens. 

Signs You’re a Toxic Worrier

Now you know what toxic worrying is, the question is how can you determine if you’re a toxic worrier?

There are lots of signs and symptoms you can watch out for. Identifying toxic worry early on gives you the best chance of getting it under control quickly.

Here, you’ll discover some of the most common signs you’re a toxic worrier.

Physical symptoms to watch out for

While worry is largely associated with mental and emotional symptoms, it can cause a lot of physical issues too. Just some of them include:

  • Headaches
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Dry and spotty skin
  • Racing heartbeat

The stress caused by toxic worrying is what largely triggers the physical symptoms. Did you know for example, that the digestive system has the same amount of nerves as your brain? So, when something is off, you’ll be prone to issues like stomach aches.

When you’re worried, it can either make you go off your food, or overindulge in it. If you’ve gone off your food, you’re going to start losing weight as you won’t be consuming enough calories. If you overindulge, you’ll gain weight quite quickly.

The more you worry, the faster your heart will beat. A racing heartbeat can cause nausea and dizziness, as well as heightened anxiety. These are the main physical symptoms of toxic worrying you’ll want to watch out for.

You avoid situations

Often, when you worry so much about something, you’ll start to avoid it. Social worry is a good example of this.

Those who struggle with social related worry, start to avoid going out or being in social situations which make them uneasy. Those who worry consistently about money may start to avoid looking at bills and ignoring the problem.

Whatever it is you are worried about, your mind will come up with creative ways to avoid the situation. Unfortunately, this can have a detrimental effect on your mental health.

You tend to over plan

A common symptom of toxic worry is over-planning. This means you’ll follow a strict routine, planning ahead for any eventuality.

If you fail to plan, it sends you into a panic. You won’t deal with the unexpected very well and change won’t be something you’re excited about.

Constant worry over the future

Do you constantly find yourself worrying over the future? If so, this could be a symptom of toxic worry.

There is nothing wrong with worrying a little over uncertainty. It’s natural to feel anxious and nervous over the future. However, if your worries are constant and you worry about every little thing that could happen, it’s a sign that it isn’t normal.

woman unable to sleep from toxic worrying anxiety

Sleep troubles

One of the tell-tale signs of toxic worrying is sleep troubles. When you have a lot on your mind, it’s extremely difficult to switch it off. This can mean you’ll find it really difficult to get off to sleep.

Or, you could find it difficult to stay asleep. Those who suffer from toxic worry tend to wake up frequently throughout the night. As soon as they awake, they begin worrying which in turn makes it hard to get back to sleep.

It is a vicious circle that can be really difficult to get out of. As you experience sleep troubles, it can also start to affect your health and wellbeing.

As you can see, there are a lot of symptoms of toxic worrying. The above are some of the most common you might recognize within yourself. If you do suspect you’re suffering with toxic worry, it’s important to take steps to start controlling it. The good news is, regardless of how bad the worries have become, there is help available to manage and eliminate it. 

How to Manage Toxic Worrying

Identifying toxic worry is one thing but learning to manage it is entirely another. When you’re gripped by worry, it can be really difficult to switch it off. This is especially true if you’ve been dealing with toxic worrying for a long time.

So, how can you manage toxic worrying? Here, you’ll discover some of the best strategies you can follow.

Talk to someone you can trust

One of the best pieces of advice you can follow when you’re dealing with toxic worry, is to talk to someone. Bottling up your worries and keeping them to yourself is only going to make them worse.

Ideally, you’ll want to talk to a friend or family member. Often, when we express our worries and concerns, it takes some of the power away from them. The more you talk things through, the easier you’ll start finding it to manage your worries.

Plus, talking to someone else gives you the opportunity to identify solutions you might not have thought of. Even if it doesn’t, simply offloading your worries can make the world of difference.

If you don’t have a friend or family member you feel comfortable talking to, don’t be afraid to go to a professional. A therapist can help you identify the worry and help with the best ways to manage it.

Exercise regularly

One of the most common pieces of advice you’ll find when trying to deal with toxic worry, is to exercise regularly.

Have you ever noticed how great you feel after a good workout? When you exercise, the brain produced feel-good hormones. It helps to combat stress, worry and it boosts self-confidence.

If you’re low on confidence, this can actually be a cause of toxic worry. So, anything you can do to improve it, will also reduce how much you worry.

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Other great benefits of exercising regularly for toxic worry include improved sleep, enhanced mood and better weight management.

Bring structure into your life

In order to combat worry, it can really help to have some level of structure in your life. This means, having a daily routine you can follow. There are some great books that can help you find that structure.

As a lot of worry centers around uncertainty, having a structure in place can prove invaluable. So, if you don’t currently have a routine, now is the time to start one.

Begin by creating a set morning and evening routine. Start small and introduce new healthier habits slowly. The more you work on your routine, the more in control you’ll feel of your life.

Ensure you get plenty of sleep

We’ve talked about the effects a lack of sleep can have on toxic worry. So, if you’re looking to eliminate the problem, you’re going to want to focus on getting plenty of sleep.

The question is, if toxic worry cases sleep disturbances, how can you get more of it? Well, it starts by creating the perfect sleep environment. Avoid technology for at least an hour prior to bed, make sure your bedroom is the right temperature and the room is clean and tidy. Sometimes even having the right scents around you can aid in falling asleep.

You can also write a worry list either early in the morning or just before bed. This allows you to write down your worries, getting them out of your head.

Analyze your worries

Finally, another way to manage toxic worrying is to analyze your worries. That is, writing them down and identifying whether they are genuine worries.

You can look at what you are worrying about and why. Then, challenge how you think about that particular worry. Is there another way to look at the situation? If you keep imaging the worst-case scenario, switch it up and start focusing on the best-case scenario. This will train the mind to start focusing more on the positives.

Managing toxic worrying isn’t always easy. However, the tips above can really help. Remember, it’s going to take some practice to start managing the things you’re worried about, particularly if you’re a natural worrier. However, if you focus and persist on the above, you’ll soon start to see a reduction in how much you worry.

Taking Control of Your Worries

While it may not seem like it, it is possible to take control of your worries. With a little patience, practice, and persistence, you can become calmer and learn how to take control over your worry as soon as it starts to occur.

If you’re looking to take back control over your worries, below you’ll discover some of the best ways to do it.

Arm yourself with facts

You’ll often find that toxic worry stems from either a lack of information or the wrong information. You could be worrying about something that you don’t fully understand for example.

So, if you want to take control, you’re going to want to arm yourself with facts. Learn everything you can about the thing you’re worrying about.

The more knowledgeable you are about the thing you’re worried about, the less you’ll actually worry.

Create a plan

Having a plan in place to combat toxic worry is also a good idea. For this, you’ll need to write down all of the things you’re worried about.

Once you have your worry list, you can start to think of ways to reduce them. Create an action plan for each one of your worries. How can you eliminate the worry and what steps will you need to take? Creating a little to-do list of things you can do to reduce the worry can also really help. As you tick off the tasks, you’ll start to feel more in control of the situation.

Allow yourself small worry windows

Of course, not worrying at all would the best possible outcome. However, you need to recognize that it’s healthy to worry sometimes.

Rather than trying to ignore your worries, it can really help to make time to acknowledge them. Setting aside small windows of time each day which allow you to worry can help to control the situation.

You basically train your mind to worry only during these designated periods. Then, once the time is up, you aim to forget about your worries for the rest of the day. This creates a much healthier balance, ensuring you aren’t burying your head in the sand, but you also aren’t letting your worries take over either.

Challenge your thoughts

When you start to notice those negative worrying thoughts, it’s time to challenge them. It’s common to make your worries appear worse than they actually are. You’ll find yourself jumping to the worst conclusion, expecting things to turn out really badly.

The trouble is most of the time these thoughts aren’t factual. You’re literally worrying yourself sick and not leaving yourself open to the possibility that things won’t be as bad as you think.

By challenging your thoughts, you’ll get to see whether your worries are genuine concerns. It also gives you the opportunity to identify healthier, more positive ways to look at the situation.

Look at what the probability of the worst-case scenario happening is. Also look at whether the worry is helping or hindering the situation. If it isn’t helping, why are you giving it the power to control you?

However, stopping toxic worrying just because you know it isn’t helping isn’t exactly easy. That’s why you’ll need to work on challenging your negative thoughts and worries every single day.

Interrupt the cycle

A great way to take control of your worries is to interrupt the cycle. When you catch yourself worrying over something, turn your focus to something else. Even those sensory fidget toys can be a wonderful distraction.

Exercise is one of the best distraction techniques. As soon as you start to feel that worry building, get up and start moving. The exercise will both interrupt the worry cycle and help you to eliminate built up stress and anxiety. Meditation, deep breathing and reading are also great distractions you can try.

Overall, toxic worry can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. However, there are ways to tackle and control it. The above are some of the best things you can try to take control over toxic worry and start living a happier, healthier life.