Kenya Foy
May 01, 2017 1:04 pm
NordWood Themes/Unsplash

When’s the last time someone told you that it was *totally* fine to be worried about something? We know: Our brows are furrowed in deep thought at that notion, too. However, a new study cites actual benefits associated with worrying, and we’re somewhat relieved.

Honestly, we didn’t expect for the weight of our worries to be completely alleviated by these findings, but it does help knowing that stressing over the unknown isn’t wholly debilitating.

According to research conducted by psychology professor Kate Sweeny and University of California, Riverside student Mike Dooley, there’s an actual upside to worrying, so let’s all give ourselves permission to exhale a huge sigh of relief, shall we?

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Now, that we’ve taken a load off, let’s dig into the reasons why being a worrywart may not be the bane of our existence after all.

During the research, Sweeny and Dooley primarily focused on worrying as a motivator and as a buffer. The pair found that worrying helps us recognize the severity of a situation and the need for action. Additionally, worrying about something means it’s “at the front of one’s mind and provides frequent and continual cues to action.”

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Finally, worrying motivates us to do something about the issue in order to escape its associated unpleasant feelings.

Of the findings, Dooley said,

Well, that makes sense. We’ve all come to that point where we’re *so* sick and tired of stressing out over something that we’re left with no choice but to alleviate the source of our worries.

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The second benefit of worrying is its use as an emotional buffer, which cushions us against negative outcomes. According to the study, when people find that their worst outcomes don’t actually happen, they feel much better than if they had a more positive outlook in the first place.

In addition to acknowledging that worrying too much about everything comes with negative effects, Sweeny and Dooley have some words of encouragement for those of us who find ourselves perpetually brooding.

“Worry is a natural experience that our culture has progressively shunned. Instead, we should recognize that worry has benefits, and positivity alone may not be ideal.”

Phew! We feel better already.

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