Worry is a protracted or recurrent act of the mind, which always fails to result in a constructive solution of the question and usually ends in confusion, fatigue, and emotional instability. You can concern yourself about an important problem, if this means merely a careful consideration in an orderly manner, leading eventually to an acceptable conclusion. Even when the conclusion happens to be contrary to your wishes, it may be accepted as a conclusion and thus worry can be avoided. Such an effort is constructive, whereas worry is always destructive.
The ordinary dictionaries describe worry as feeling or expressing a great deal of care and anxiety, manifesting unrest or pain, fretting, chafing, being anxious or fearful. Since all of these reactions are undesirable from the point of view of their effects on the body, worry is a most undesirable characteristic.
Many people insist that they never worry. These are the people who have learned to reason themselves out of anxiety over situations in which they find themselves. The process is known as “rationalizing.” Other people develop mental tranquillity or peace of mind by accepting a belief which eliminates from consideration anything displeasing to them. Such a process is not rationalizing, but may achieve the same effect if the person can shut out completely any problem that disturbs him.
Most people find peace of mind necessary if they are to accomplish their responsibilities in the business world or in the home. If one does not have such peace of mind there is a constant feeling of insecurity, a constant fear of a threat to life itself or to the life situation of the person concerned. As a result, energy is squandered and the reserve of the nervous system is exhausted, so that the person becomes tired, worn, distressed and may have what is commonly called a nervous breakdown.
When worry appears to this extent, the effects manifest themselves on different portions of the body. If the worry is related to the heart the person feels palpitations, extra and light beats of the heart, and similar manifestations; such a person may focus attention unduly on the pulse or the blood pressure or some other factor related to the circulation. If the nervous condition brings the focus of attention on the stomach and bowels there may be constipation, diarrhea, or other manifestations even more serious.
Many a person endeavors to escape from worry by fleeing into an addiction to drink, to drugs, to sedatives, to gambling, or to other practices that are known to be against the best interests of humanity. The escape is only temporary, and the trouble returns just as soon as the liquor or the drugs have worn off. There is no doubt that a restful night’s sleep, a vacation, indulgence in outdoor sports, or even the theater or the movies may be utilized to better advantage as means of escape from the reality of worry.