Worry Resource - Page 4

Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty
What triggers worry and anxiety?
Anything can be a trigger for worry. Even when things go right, you might manage
to think to yourself "but what if it all falls apart?". There are particular situations where
worry becomes even more common, though. Strong triggers for worry are situations
that are:
• Ambiguous – open to different interpretations.
• Novel and new – so we don’t have any experience to fall back on.
• Unpredictable – unclear how things will turn out.
Does any of this sound familiar at the moment? The current worldwide health situation
ticks all of these boxes, and so it makes sense that people are experiencing a lot of worry.
It is an unusual situation with much uncertainty, which can naturally lead us to worry
and feel anxious.
Are there different types of worry?
Worry can be helpful or unhelpful, and psychologists often distinguish between worries
concerning ‘real problems’ vs. ‘hypothetical problems’.
• Real problem worries are about actual problems that need solutions right now. For
example, given the very real concern about the virus at the moment, there are helpful
solutions which include regular handwashing, social distancing, and physical isolation
if you have symptoms.
• Hypothetical worries about the current health crisis might include thinking about
worst-case scenarios (what we might call catastrophising). For example, imagining
worst case scenarios such as most people dying.
Real problem worries
are about actual problems
that are affecting you right now.
“My children are off
school and I need help
looking after them”
Hypothetical worries
are about things that do not currently exist,
but which might happen in the future.
“What will I do if I lose
my job and end up
“I don’t have enough food in
the house to last more
than a few days”
“I’m young and healthy
but what if I end up on a
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