Managing Worry

Newsletter from your Jeffco EAP

In our world today, we face many challenges.  Some of these concerns include health issues, job security, family problems, and other problems. The simple definition of worry is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems, or thinking about the unknown in a way that creates fear.  Worry is a natural response to many life circumstances.  Unfortunately, constant worry can negatively impact your health as well as your quality of life.

Our bodies react to excessive worry by increasing various chemicals in our system, including adrenaline (the fight or flight response).  Today, we seldom need to physically fight or flee, yet worry still increases the same chemical reactions. As a result of chronic worrying, our immune system may be compromised and make us more at risk for other health problems.

Not all worry is negative.  Healthy worrying leads us to problem solving and action.  It can help you predict possible bad outcomes before they happen so you can avoid them, and can demonstrate care and love to others by showing signs of worry when you care about their welfare.

Negative worry

Sometimes worry can seem to completely take over a person’s life.  Unrelenting doubts and fears are paralyzing, not motivating or productive. They can sap your emotional energy, send your anxiety levels soaring, and can interfere with your daily life.  The good news is that you can learn to manage worry. You can train your brain to stay calm and collected and to look at life from a more positive perspective.

Tips to manage negative worry

  1. Identify the sourceAre you anxious about things that you can do something about or is the source of your worry beyond your control?  When the source of your worry is something you can control, you can channel that worry into action. Develop a plan for dealing with the cause of your worry, and then carry out that plan.  If the source of your worry is beyond your control, acknowledge you have done all you can.
  2. Distract yourselfOne simple way to switch gears is instead of worrying about something you can’t change, do something, or think about something you have control over. Even small actions can help. Talk to a friend, take a walk, go the gym, listen to music, or just think positive thoughts about people or places you enjoy. It takes practice to learn to refocus your thoughts, but it soon can become second nature to relax, rather than stressing over an unproductive worry.
  3. Set a time to worry and limit it:  Set aside a short period of time each day to worry. If worrying thoughts intrude, write down the concern for your worry time. This strategy gives you control over when you worry instead of worrying all day long. When your worry time is over move on to something positive and enjoyable.
  4. Turn worry into problem solving:

Step 1: What is the problem?

Step 2: Brainstorm; write down all possible solutions

Step 3: Assess each solution

Step 4: Choose the “best” or most practical solution

Step 5: Plan how to carry out the solution you choose

  1. Don’t worry alone: In the absence of realistic feedback, we can often catastrophize and spin out of control. If something is troubling you, get the reassurance and reality check you need. Consult someone you trust—a friend or family member. Anxiety often diminishes when we share our worries. Practical solutions to problems may emerge in the course of the conversation. If you find you are constantly worrying, especially about things beyond your control, talk to a counseling professional.

If you would like further information on skills to manage worry, or to speak with an EAP counselor, please contact your confidential Employee Assistance Program at 303-982-0377 or visit our website at  Your EAP offers no-cost assistance to all Jeffco Public Schools employees, their family members over age 15, and retirees.