When "what if" runs your life

. 2 min read
The All Mental Health Team

What if I never feel that same rush of adrenaline?
What if I don't know what to do with my days?
What if I never feel that sense of community I had with my team?
What if I could have done something different so I'd still be playing today?
What if I never feel like I have a sense of purpose again?
What if I can't connect with anyone now that I don't feel like myself?

With such a huge life transition, we often spend hours having a kind of internal conversation with ourselves. The conversation is almost always about something bad that might happen.

We’ll see something or hear something or even just remember something, and it starts the what if spiral.

What if I never find meaning in anything? Then, I'll always be reminiscing about sports, the "good old days", my life before... And then I’ll have to spend all my time doing some boring job I don't care about. And…

You get the idea. All these what ifs are the tools of a worried mind.

But why? Why do we do spend so much of our time worrying?

Well, for people who struggle with anxiety, sometimes we think that worry is actually helping us.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to you?

  1. If I worry, it means I care "Worrying about the future means I had something great in the past."

  2. Worrying helps prepare me for when something bad happens "Worrying about how miserable I might be means it won't take me by surprise."

  3. Worrying motivates me to do something about a problem "Worrying about what I do next means I won't slack off and stay home on the couch."

  4. Worrying helps me feel better when the bad thing eventually happens "If I worry about being lonely after sports, and then I am, it doesn't hurt as much."

  5. Worrying about something means it can't happen exactly like that. "If I worry about my life now being as bad as possible, it won't be quite as bad as I imagine."

Familiar? The thing is, most of the time, these just aren't true. When worry becomes excessive, and a part of your daily way of life, it's more likely it's harming you than helping you.

Some signs that your worry is hurtful, not helpful:

  • You worry about things that aren't immediate threats
  • You're more often anxious than relaxed
  • You have difficulty enjoying yourself because of how much you worry
  • Your worries get in the way of you living your life

If these feel familiar to you, you're not alone. 2 out of 5 people worry at least once a day. And excessive worry is one of the most common signs of anxiety. So, what can you do to change your worried ways?

Well, we've got a few ideas to get you started. Why don't you try out planning your worry sessions?

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