What, Me Worry?

Everyone worries, but it's important to know when worrying is okay and when it isn't. Unnecessary worry can sap energy, ruin your health, and make your life miserable.

Dr. Edward Hallowell is the author of Worry: Hope And Help for A Common Condition. He tells CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Jane Robelot that worrying is controllable.

Bad worrying, says Dr. Hallowell, is "toxic." Unlike "good" worry,(which is motivating and gets you moving), "toxic" worry interferes with creativity and normal life.

"It slows you down, prevents you from achieving your best. Toxic worry is bad for you physically and emotionally," says Dr. Hallowell.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • Do you wish you worried less?
  • Do you worry even when things are okay?
  • Do others comment on how much you worry?
  • Do you sense your worries are irrational?
  • Do you have negative thoughts even when you are in a good mood?
  • Do you have any worry-related medical conditions?

Dr. Hallowell says even one "yes" answer is a tip-off that you might be a problem worrier. If you answered "yes" to three or more, you certainly have a problem.

"The good news is you can control it," Hallowell says. "Worry, like blood pressure, can be brought out of the toxic zone into the normal zone. If you do that, it will prolong your life."

Hallowell has a five-step plan to deal with worry.

  • Never worry alone. The key to worry control is to make contact with someone else. The worst thing you can do is to withdraw. Talk to a friend, your spouse, a colleague, anyone.
  • Get the facts.Very often toxic worry is based on a lack of information or misinformation. Don't look at a mole on your forearm and worry that it might be melanoma. Get it checked.
  • Take Action. Don't brood. Act on the worry. When you hear that danger signal, do something about it: see a doctor, set up a financial plan, talk to the friend you're worried about.
  • Practice brain maintenance. It sounds strange, but it's very simple. Get enough sleep. Most people don't. Eat a proper diet, particularly breakfast. Have protein in your breakfast. Get regular physical exercise. Exercise is key in terms of helping you reduce tension and anxiety. Finally, pray or meditate.
  • Let it go. After you have done steps one through four, let go of the worry. Same deal with worry control: you've gone through the steps of finding out what is going on and made your plan, now let go. Give up what you can't control.

    ©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed