Why Worrying Is Good For You
Studies show women fret a lot more than men. If you’re a worry wart, you’re probably not surprised. But here’s the good news: Worrying helps us to make the right decisions – especially about our health and our wallets. Think about it. Without a certain amount of fretting about our health, would we really make our annual appointment for a mammogram, go to the gym or wear a seat belt?
"Good worry is like a smoke detector that nature has built into our brains," explains psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, MD, author of Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition. Worry alerts us to danger. It also helps solve problems. If you're worried about bouncing checks, you'll be more likely to set up a cash reserve.
That’s probably why we're actually wired for "good worry" thanks to a part of the brain called the anterior insula, which helps us predict, and thus avoid, danger. So, when you're about to buy an entire case of warehouse-store cookies because they're on sale and that little voice inside your head says, Don't do it, you'll just eat them all, it's probably a good idea to listen.
But while good worry has its benefits, fretting over future problems -- your spouse’s car might crash, your college age son might get seriously ill -- is most often a complete waste of energy. Eighty-five percent of the time people's worst fears never materialize, according to a study published in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy.