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Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


Feeling Worried: A Guide to Your Emotions

PUBLISHED Dec 23rd, 2020 & UPDATED ON Jan 26th, 2023

Feeling worried? Don’t know what that is, never heard of that, never tasted that, never felt that…

 Just kidding. If ONLY that were the case! So many of us worry about things on a daily basis. Little things, big things, alllll the things! It can be overwhelming when you’re filled with this sense of something about to go wrong.

If the word “worry” could be summarized in a sensation, it might be the feeling of a pit sitting at the bottom of your stomach, or your heart falling out of your butt. You might even end up pacing around the room when you’re worried, trying to run through every possible scenario, and preparing yourself for the absolute worst thing to happen. Exhausting, right?

As you read this, you might think that this sounds kind of similar to anxiety. Well, yes and no. Worry is a bit different from anxiety because when we worry, we fret mostly about things that we CAN control. We can worry about the mark we are going to get on a test or how our performance review with our employer will go.

For the most part, worrying can be fixed with problem-solving, and your nervous little heart can then get back to its normal rhythm.

A Deeper Look at Worry

So, what causes worry? Like we said, it’s not quite anxiety, but you still feel shitty about the situation you’re facing. Worry is a part of anxiety (if you didn’t worry at all, you wouldn’t have anxiety), but what is it exactly?

Our trusty Merriam Webster defines worry as ”mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated: ANXIETY.” Even the dictionary says that worry is related to anxiety! It’s a really common feeling because so many of us have things that come up in our lives that cause major or minor stress to us.

The Difference Between Worry and Anxiety

Ok, this is going to sound a bit weird, but stay with us for a second. Worry is mostly a feeling contained in our minds. According to Psychology Today, this is because worry is mostly centred around our thoughts and how we think about specific situations. This could be thinking about anything from getting a text back to worrying about how a job interview is going to go. In contrast, anxiety evokes a strong physical response because we think about what will happen, we imagine it in our mind’s eye, and we create a dialogue about the situation to go with what we “see.” 

Soooo, it basically feels like we’re there, and our body responds to that. With worry, we don’t necessarily have the same issue. This is because worry can be considered mostly “verbal” in nature. We talk about our worries, but we don’t go to the same imaginative extent that we do with anxiety.

 Having worries is a totally normal thing. It’s a natural human response to situations and shit that we need to address. It doesn’t impact how we go about our lives and affects how we function like anxiety might. This is because it’s temporary. It’s controlled.

 Once your stressful situation is over, so is your feeling of worry. How great is that?! It’s not supposed to be a thing that hangs around forever. You’re just tense for a bit, and then *poof! * It’s like it was never there once you’ve solved the problem you were facing.

How Worry Shows Up Mentally

Even though you’ve probably had a worry or two in your life, we’re still going to tell you what worry looks and sounds like anyway. Like we said, worry can be about the little or big things, but we can usually work through this feeling with logic and problem-solving.

1. Stress

There’s a bar in Bergen, Norway called No Stress and it’s the best bar in the world because there is literally No Stress to be found. Unfortunately, if you’re worried, you definitely have stress, especially if you’re in university or school. You’ll definitely know what it feels like to stress over a test!

 I’m going to fail this exam. Omg, I just KNOW it! Why did you take French? You live in Alberta, Canada. No one speaks French around you. This is going to be disastrous. How do you even conjugate avoir again?

2. Fear 

When you’re worried, chances are that you’re afraid of a possible outcome. That’s totally expected! When you’re faced with something stressful, you’re probably worried about a negative result.

Omg, I’m so scared for this job interview… What happens if I don’t get it? What if they don’t like me? I need this job so badly and I don’t want to have to go back to what I did before. Sigh…

3. Doubt 

You could feel doubtful about a lot of things. The situation, your skill set, someone else’s skill set, a number of things! But the underlying feeling of this all is that you aren’t totally convinced it’s all going to work out in the end.

Ugh, my heart is beating out of my chest. First dates are always so fucking scary. What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t like them? Ahh!

How Feeling Worried Shows Up Physically

For the most part, worry doesn’t cause long term physical distress. The feeling of worry doesn’t usually last for extended periods of time, so what you’re feeling should be temporary. 

You might feel some emotional distress and some tense feelings in your body, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re short of breath or truly panicking. Just that pit in the stomach/heart dropping through your butt that we mentioned before.

Sometimes when you get stressed and worried, your breathing changes. You might not notice it at first but it totally does happen! It’s your body’s way of responding and trying to calm you down enough to tackle the problem at hand. 

Worrying can increase your heart rate! When you worry, stress hormones are released because you feel an impending sense of doom and danger nearby. Your heart starts working harder so that you’re able to run away from the danger. Fortunately, the stress you’re facing these days is being worried about a first date and not a dangerous animal.

 If you worry too much, your immune system might even be affected and you won’t really be able to fight off bugs and flus like you normally could! 

You’re also probably familiar with the feeling of butterflies. Sometimes these butterflies can be the result of excited anticipation! Sometimes butterflies can happen because you’re just so stoked to get on the rollercoaster at the amusement park…and other times they appear in your tummy because you’re scared as fuuuck.

5 Ways to Cope with Worry

When you’re worried, you might not know what next steps to take. It’s scary and sometimes overwhelming. Well, don’t worry (ha!), because we have some tips to help you DiveThru it!

1. Practice Deep Breathing

If you were already worried, chances are that you were doing this already like we mentioned–except this time, be more mindful about it. Count to four as you breathe in, then exhale for four again. Keep doing this to help yourself calm down and shift your mindset to one that’s more calming.

2. Journal 

If you know anything about us, you know that we looooove journaling. When you’re worried, take time to write out your worries on a piece of paper. Can you do anything to combat them right now? If you can, what kind of steps can you take? If you also don’t feel like solving your problem or don’t feel like you can, writing down your feelings always helps! Sometimes it’s just nice to vent and organize your thoughts somewhere.

3. Meditate 

You know that mindfulness breathing that we talked about? Combine that shit with this shit! Meditating can be a really great way to centre yourself and your mind when you’re worried. If you don’t know how to meditate or don’t have a regular meditation practice, hop on YouTube and find a free guided meditation to play. You don’t have to meditate for an hour right off the bat! That’s a long time to sit when you’re just starting out. If you want, try it for just 5 or 10 minutes at first!

4. Comfort Yourself 

Do it as you would expect a parent or friend to do. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a moment and the kind of support that you need from others. What do you need? A hug? Wrap your arms around yourself right now and tell yourself that you’re doing the best with what you’ve got. Give yourself a little love.

5. Reach Out for Support 

Sometimes, you can’t handle all your worries on your own! You’re not always meant to bear the emotional burden all by yourself. Talk to a friend or even reach out to your therapist if you have one. There’s no shame in lightening your own mental load by talking to others and asking for help.

Are you still worried? We hope not! If you are, you’ve got this. We know that you’re one tough cookie who can DiveThru anything!

Read More: Online Therapy 101, How to Get the Most Value From Your Therapy Appointments,