You’re running behind at work – which worries you, understandably. You’re having to bring work home, which is interfering with your family life – and that worries you, of course. Your kids, who are teenagers now, are behaving like teenagers – and that really worries you. Plus your plumbing is acting up, your car needs repair, there’s something wrong with your back tooth, you’ve having trouble sleeping, your digestion isn’t up to par, and you've been getting a lot of headaches lately – all of which worry you. You’re so tired of worrying, you’re even worrying about worrying!

As well you should! Worrying isn’t good for your health. You see, scientists have discovered that what you think and what you feel has direct impact on how well your body works – or doesn’t. There is literally an information highway in our bodies that connects your mind (what you think and feel) to all of your bodily systems – your brain, your nervous system, your hormonal system, your gastrointestinal system, your immune system, all of your bodily systems are set up to communicate with one another.

Chemicals, in the form of neuropeptides and others, are released in your brain as a direct result of what you think and feel, and then travel throughout your body, attaching themselves to the appropriate receptor sites on your cells, giving instructions to your body on how to function. Worry interferes with the smooth flow of the very chemicals your body needs to function healthily and happily. Not only that, but constant worry, which is a form of chronic low grade anxiety, puts stress on your body and your bodily systems, which further gets in the way of your natural well-being!

“Well,” you cry, frustrated, “What am I supposed to do, Dr. Noelle? How am I supposed NOT to worry?!”

Use worry as it was meant to be used – as a warning, a signaling message, an attention getter. “You’re running behind at work,” or “I’m getting headaches” are situations to be dealt with, not worried about. Worrying doesn’t resolve them, it just taxes your health. Once you’ve paid attention to the situation, you’ve fulfilled your worry’s purpose. You can then let go of the worry and move on to the problem-solving stage, which is what your worry is trying to get you to do in the first place.

Value problem-solving more than you do worrying! Practice problem solving regularly until you get really good at it, even better than you are at worrying – which you’ve probably already practiced enough for your entire lifetime. . .

Every time you resolve a problem, every time an issue becomes a non-issue, congratulate yourself! Be pleased with yourself, value your achievement. Give yourself the wonderful health benefits of positive strokes, in addition to the mental and emotional feel-goods that come with getting stuff off your worry plate.

Worry is not a bad thing. Worry, like all our emotions, has a legitimate and valuable place in our lives. Use it as the “Hey, over here!” attention-getter it was meant to be, and you’ll get all the value of worry without its damaging impact on your health.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., known as "Dr. Noelle" to her clients, is a respected psychologist, consultant and author. Her most recent books is "The Power of Appreciation: The Key to a Vibrant Life" (with co-author, Jeannine LeMare Calaba, Psy.D.; Beyond Words, 2003). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives with her "compassionate psychotherapy." Dr. Noelle welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Noelle anytime at