Worry & Fear Hurt Your Health: 15 Tips to Overpower Fear & Worry & Start Taking Risks
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”
In looking at what it takes to LOVE your LIFE, the essence of my blog, it makes sense to me to look at some of the things that stop you from having a life that you LOVE, and I have grouped worry, risk and fear into this one post because I believe worry and fear overlap a great deal and directly impact one’s willingness to take a risk. Failure is a huge topic in and of itself and I am going to hold the topic of failure for another day because while it is inherent in taking risks dealing with the subjects of fear, worry and taking risks is enough. The negative health impact on the human body for on-going or chronic worrying and fears is extensive. Worry and fear are two things that will stop you from having a live that you love so I am hopeful that I can help you start to deal with these things.
In general, we have a long list of things that we worry about or have fears about – and I will get to that shortly. Let’s start by getting on the same page with the definitions of fear, risk and worry even if that seems totally unnecessary to you.
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.
noun: a situation involving exposure to danger (the possibility of suffering harm or injury); verb: to expose someone or something valued to danger, harm or loss.
: noun: state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems; verb: to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
According to a Time.com article from May 8, 2018, almost 40% of Americans were more anxious than in the previous year and about 18% of the population suffers from an anxiety disorder, which equates to about 40 million Americans. This is a topic that I have been discussing with close friends for more than15 years, and as such I have great compassion for people who worry. I mean I understand that some people are just wired that way. I am grateful that I am not a worrier. I also believe that there are several things that you can do to deal with both worry and fear that will forward your life in a very powerful and meaningful way.
Of course, for my new readers I have to include the disclaimer that I am not a therapist in any way, nor am I a medical professional and thus nothing I am writing herein can be considered medical advice. If you are seriously depressed or suicidal, please dial 911 or call the national suicide hotline or your local helpline.
I wrote up a list of the more common things that people have worries or fears about. Look over the list and make a mental note on how many of the things you fear or worry over. Breathe this in. Seriously how many of these 31 things do you worry about or are you afraid of and how often? Just go through the list and pause and reflect.
- Not having enough money (financial security)
- Health issues
- Job security
- Relationships: keeping one; finding one; losing one; repairing one
- Housing issues
- Children: want/don’t want/have/don’t have/problems with/etc.
- Parents/siblings: problems with; taking care of; etc.
- World issues: all kinds of World issues and problems
- Health Insurance
- Transportation: have it/don’t have it/repairing it/replacing it/etc.
- Worried/Fear of what people think of you
- Worried/Fear of what people are saying about you
- Worried/Fear are you good enough (inadequacy concerns)
- The meaning or purpose of your life or lack thereof
- Are you loved
- About failure
- Making friends or making new friends
- Of being rejected
- Of getting hurt
- Of being betrayed
- Of Divorce
- Of Marriage
- Of Death or dying
- Of being judged negatively
- Of change
- Of losing control
- Of uncertainty
- Of the other shoe dropping (something bad happening)
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Worry and fear take a huge toll on the human body. The health impacts are extensive enough that I am hopeful that you will consider the steps I cover later to help yourself deal with your worrying and fears. The following list is a compilation of all that I could find online about how worrying and fear negatively impact health from many different sources.
Negative Health Impacts of Long-term Worrying or Fear
- Raises blood pressure increasing your risk of heart disease
- Depresses the immune system making you more susceptible to diseases including cancer
- Stress (worrying/fear) changes your blood chemistry, which if chronic or on-going, can increase your risk of diabetes
- Increases your risk for clinical depression
- Impairs the formation of new fast-growing cells like bone and hair, which over a long period of time can contribute to baldness
- Reduces your ability to form new memories and recall other memories
- Depresses fertility
- Muscle aches and pains
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of libido
- Upset stomach, ulcers and acid reflux
- Breathing problems
- Headaches or migraines
- Panic attacks
- Irritable bowel problems
- Sleep problems
- Worsening of skin conditions like eczema
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
The negative impact of worrying and fear on your body is obviously significant to say the least. The above list is a comprehensive list and you might only get one or two of the impacts. Is it worth it? I don’t know. I do think some people are addicted to worrying. Either that or they are unwilling to do the work necessary to break free of it. I share the Bob Newhart “Stop It” video from YouTube in an effort to bring some humor to this subject.
Bob Newhart “Stop It” Video on YouTube:
My children and I roared about this years ago. It is obviously poking fun at therapy – after all it is from a sitcom. If you watch it I do hope that you think it is funny. However, there is some validity to at times just telling yourself to stop it. I have some other ideas to help you deal with fear and worry if you keep reading.
One of the commodities that I do trade in is happiness! I am really skilled at generating my own happiness, which I wrote about recently in my blog post titled How to Generate Your Own Happiness & Why It’s the Skill to Learn, February 13, 2020. The more your mind is filled with fears and worries the less room there is to be happy in my humble opinion.
Dealing with Fears
I don’t happen to believe that we have too much facility in the area of fear and dealing with our fears. That’s an opinion not a fact but I do believe that there’s enough evidence to support that statement. I am a firm believer that fear is a powerful emotion that stops us dead in our tracks unless or until we deal with whatever the fear is. So how do you deal with fear?
My reaction to fear is to identify what I am afraid of and get a solid mental picture in my mind. Then I go through the possible outcomes if the worst-case scenario happened. Could I live with and deal with the worst case happening? The answer is most always yes. It takes a conscious mind to deal with fear. Often times fear lurks around unidentified and unnamed. It’s just there in the unspoken. That’s not helpful.
While I have not counted it myself, I understand that the sources on the internet state that the Bible says some form of “be not afraid” about 365 times. So, if you happen to be religious then you can take the stance that God does not want you to worry or be afraid. God wants you to trust in HIM. And for some people that is not enough. I understand.
What is it that you are afraid of? What do you fear? Getting a handle on what you fear would be enormously helpful because then you can pull your fears apart like taffy and discover what is at the base of your fear. I assert that dealing with fear is a completely mental process that can be done. It might mean that you have to have a few conversations with friends, family or a good therapist. It might mean that you have to confront some belief system or attitude. It could mean a lot of things. Fear is what holds us back from many things. It holds us back from applying for a job you would love, from asking someone to join you for coffee, from moving, from ending a bad relationship, from starting a new relationship, from being your best self. Fear stops all of us from so many things.
It just doesn’t have to be that way if you are willing to do the work to distinguish what you are afraid of and deal with the fear. Although I have not read it in over a decade or more, I recall that Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich
, first published in 1937 and still in print today, had an entire chapter devoted to fear. If you have never read that book and are struggling with fear(s) I would suggest that might be a great book. It’s an excellent book in general.
Sometimes fears are just not rationale. It would be powerful to determine if you had a fear that was not rationale. Having conversations about your fears could be a complete game changer in helping you sort it all out. It could be. It depends. While I wouldn’t say that I am fearless, I tend to go do whatever I want in spite of my fears or in the face of my fears. Why? Because I want what I want. I have always had goals and a vision for my life even if some of those goals and visions were thwarted by circumstances. I believe that the more you take on creating your life the way that you want it to go and take the actions that align with that created life – the less fear will stop you. But that’s just my opinion. Often fears show up when it comes to taking risks in life so let’s briefly look at taking risks.
“Do one thing that scares you every day.” –
I just love that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. What would life look like if you did that? It’s hard to imagine! Some people are more wired to take risks. In thinking about this post, I thought of how businesses are wired to categorize and deal with risk of all kinds. While there are many, many types of risk, here are 4 types of general risk management:
- Avoidance (eliminate, withdraw from or not become involved)
- Reduction (optimize -mitigate)
- Sharing (transfer – outsource or insure)
- Retention (accept and budget)
In the business categories you can find strategic risk, compliance risk, operational risk, financial risk, and reputational risk. There are even scholarly articles about calculating risks. And in the financial investment world there are even more categories for risk.
Here’s the question for you: how bad do you want X, Y, or Z? What would happen if you failed? Do you really care that much about what people think of you? What is holding you back? What is the benefit if you succeed? Which matters more – taking a risk or staying right where you are?
In college an amazing group of women and I started working to get a chapter of an International sorority on our campus. In the process the campus newspaper wanted to interview some of the girls who were planning on being in the sorority – if the sorority was ever approved by the Panhellenic Council. None of the women I was working with were willing to be interviewed by the newspaper, so I did the interview. As a result of my name being in the paper as associated with the group trying to start this new sorority, people started talking and laughing about me little did I know. Oh, no. I found out rather quickly when a waitress that I worked with at the Deli started talking to me while we were sweeping the floors – ABOUT ME! She started talking to me – about me!
I stopped her right away and told her that my last name was Lundy, to which she laughed and said no way. I insisted and she thought I was joking. Ultimately, she followed me to the time card machine where I pulled out my time card, which clearly read “Lisa Lundy”. No, I don’t know what she was about to say, but I am pretty clear it was not good. I later heard from a man on campus that everybody was laughing at me (okay my name was the only one in the paper so who else would they be laughing at) – until he said – you were successful then we stopped laughing.
Back in the day when I was a sales representative for Bausch & Lomb I had gotten a new sales manager and we had a travel day scheduled. On the appointed travel day I took him to my largest customer whose business I had grown enormously. The customer raved to my manager about how much more business they were transitioning over to Bausch & Lomb and how much she loved me. I mean this customer raved about me and the work I had done to win them over from the competition. My manager and I went to lunch with me pretty pleased with the sales call. My manager, however, proceeded to tear me to pieces. He was extremely unhappy, which was a mismatch for the sales call we had just experienced. Then it dawned on me – he didn’t like me OR he just didn’t want me in my job.
So, I took a risk – a reasonably big risk – and point blank asked him if he wanted me in my job. He said no that I was not well suited for the position and I would be better off somewhere else. Wow! Just wow! I had watched a former manager at Xerox Corporation get bruised and bloodied by a manager who didn’t want him in the position he had – even though he was a superior manager so I knew how things would progress. When I got home that evening I put in a few phone calls to headhunters and got my resignation letter ready. I had a new job very shortly after my two weeks notice was up.
After the word got around to my teammates that I had resigned I received a phone call from a co-worker who asked what had happened because he knew that I was doing very well in the company and he was shocked. I told him what had happened and that I was unwilling to work for a sales manager who didn’t want me in the job. Then this sales representative told me that this particular sales manager picked one sales rep per year to get rid of and that they had all lived in fear year after year about who was going to get it this year. Wow. I was shocked because I didn’t know that about this manager. Can you imagine year after year being worried about whether your neck will be on the chopping block by such a manager? No. I just don’t do life like that.
Sometime later I found out that my actions had a ripple effect and other sales reps working for this manager left the company as well. You have to be prepared for the consequences if you take a risk. In this case I was well aware of the consequences of asking a direct question just as much as I was aware of the consequences of being in a political battle with a manager who didn’t want me in the job. No thanks. I like to go where I am wanted.
I like to think about taking risk as taking calculated
risks. I like to look at the pros and cons of all of the different outcomes of a risk I am taking. I am taking a risk doing what I am doing right now. It might work out or it might not. Believer as I am in the self-fulfilling prophecy, I am confident that it will work out very well for me. And I have a plan B. I am not throwing all caution to the wind and risking everything. You can’t get huge rewards without taking some risks.
There is power and freedom in being able to be able to live your life without being held back by what other people think of you. I remember Dr. Phil saying on one of his shows to a guest – if you knew how little time other people spent thinking about you – you wouldn’t really care what they thought of you. There’s a fine line or a boundary. I am not talking about disregarding people who really love you and care about you expressing a concern. I am talking about not giving up on actions that support the life you are creating. Calculating the risk versus return on investment (ROI).
It’s just my belief that anything worthwhile – anything of value has inherent risk involved. That is clearly true in the business world. I say it is also true in the area of love and friendships. You can get burned in a friendship or in a love relationship. That’s a fact. You can also experience deep connectedness, love, companionship, laughter, and beautiful moments. I just happen to believe that LOVE is worth it. Love is worth the risk. I say that having been burned in a pretty huge way actually more than one time. Huge is not enough to cover it. But I believe LOVE always wins. It is the emotion that lights me up and calls me to be. It is what life is about in the world according to me.
It seems to me that to be able to take some level of risk you have to be able to calm your fears and worries. Here are some ideas to get you moving out of the world of fear and worry and into the world of taking risks and moving your life forward.
15 Ways to Overpower Fear & Worry & Start Taking Risks
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worry once and for all.”
- Name and own any worries or fears that you have. Be specific. Have no shame in having them. Just own up to them.
- Have a plan you are actively executing to move your life forward.
- Be present! Live in the NOW.
- What action(s) can be taken to address the worry or fear? Make a list. Take the action(s) appropriate to deal with the situation.
- Employ the habits and practices to use your time very well so you are doing what you love and want to be doing and don’t have time to worry or be afraid.
- Make yourself signs or reminders if you need to. They can be very effective.
- Discuss your worry and fears with close friends or family. Get supported.
- Remember the self-fulfilling prophecy: Write out your beautiful outcome and story – on paper. Be specific and think big. After all, it’s your story.
- Read success stories to inspire yourself.
- See your success in your mind – visualize it like professional athletes do. See yourself crossing the finish line of your story.
- If you catch yourself having a worrisome or fearful thought then take an immediate action to counterbalance the worrisome or fearful thought. That could be an action that moves your life powerfully forward. It could be a phone call to a friend for support. Counterbalance any negative thoughts immediately.
- Make sure you are getting the proper amount of sleep and good quality sleep as that is helpful to the body, mind and spirit.
- Boost your nutrition while you are working to stomp out worry and fear as that can be confronting like most change is. Any positive change in your nutrition will be helpful.
- When you are working on personal growth and development, which can be confronting, try going for a walk or getting some exercise as that will help relieve any stress. While exercise is very good for the body at any given time, it’s especially helpful when you are working on mental challenges.
- Growth and development! Of course, this makes the list because the rewards are so extensive. See my past post titled: Top 45 Ways that Personal Growth & Development Will Help You Have a Life You Love, November 29, 2019. Work on yourself because that will help you in so many ways!
Worrying and having fears can have an extremely negative impact on your health. Some people are more prone to worrying and being fearful than others. Regardless if you have a propensity to worry or not, there are habits and practices that will help you stop worrying and being afraid. One of the best practices it to have a plan for your life and be actively engaged in forwarding your life. That puts you in the driver’s seat and you won’t be sitting around worrying or having doubts and fears because you are actively engaged in creating your life.
If you are not used to actively creating your life then it might feel a bit foreign or awkward but those feelings will pass as you start doing what it takes to have a life that you love. How can I help you have a life that you LOVE? How can I help you have a life that you wake up to every day and say – really? I get to live THIS Life? I want you to be happy and healthy and enjoying every day. How can I support you in your journey? Let me know!