Worry has been a constant companion in my life. My range of things to worry about has included the small and inconsequential as in, "What did that person really mean when they said such and such?" to worries of a grand scale such as worry over health and financial problems. Sometimes I even worry about global issues such as terrorism, climate change, and whether or not my future grandchildren will get to see a tiger as predictions say they could be extinct in as little as twelve years from now. As a chronic worrier, I seem to have no problem discovering new things to fuel my worry machine.
But then I got to wondering, "What do other people worry about?"
It seems the answer to this question is dependent upon who you are and which scientific survey or study you are currently reviewing. I did a little informal investigating on my own using a simple Google search using various queries such as the question stated above or variations of the phrase, "most common worries." What I discovered is quite intriguing.
Here is a sampling of what I found:
- A whole lot of people are worried about their financial situation. In one of my recent posts about job anxiety, I cited research from a Harvard Institute of Politics poll where they found that many young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have worries about whether or not they can find a job once they are out of college or if they have a job, they worry that they will lose it. A similar study conducted with young adults from London found that this population worried more about finances than even love or romance.
- In addition to financial worries, many people are losing sleep over job related stress. There are many studies which show that bringing work to bed can adversely affect your sleep patterns such as the 2005 study reported in the journal Sleep where a high level of stress at work was linked to insomnia.
- While some people are worried about finances some people in the world are fearful of natural disasters. If you live in China, it is reported that you are currently worried about earthquakes. Another worry for those who live in China is the danger of unsafe food ingredients.
Americans are also worried about contamination of the food supply according to a national survey conducted for NPR by Thomson Reuters. According to this report 61% of respondents are worried about food supply contamination and 51% worry most about meat.
It seems that Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) as well as Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are a worried bunch. A simple Google search brings up dozens of articles on their worries which may include the rising cost of fuel to attracting and retaining quality workers. Some CEOs even devote blog posts to lists of potential worries.
- The state of being pregnant sends many people into a worry fest as indicated by the many websites devoted to pregnancy and labor fears. Once the baby is born there is no rest for the weary and worried. The role of new parent has generated many top ten worry lists on the Internet. Entire books are devoted to addressing parental worries such as this one detailing fifty concerns of parents. If you are a parent who worries that you have forgotten something to worry about I am sure you will find it on the Internet.
- If you are a teen-age girl living in London, it seems that you may be more worried about your looks than getting good grades in school. According to one research study, one in three girls polled felt that their appearance was more important than anything else. A fourth of the respondents believed that good looks would get them further in life than doing well on exams. This gives parents a new worry that their teen-age daughter will rely on appearance instead of hard work in order to succeed.
- If you are a patient you may be worried about trusting your doctor. A Consumer Reports survey found that more than three-fourths of respondents worried that the advice or treatment of their doctor would be suspect if the doctor were accepting payments from pharmaceutical companies. To see if your doctor is on the Pharma's Top Paid List see the Dollars for Docs page from PROPublica.
- Senior citizens are not without their worries. One report lists the top concerns of this population which may include: Sexual problems, loss of energy, loss of friends and/or spouse, illness, financial loss, and death as the major worries for those who are in their golden years.
It seems there is no shortage of things to ruminate or worry about. In any corner of the world right now, someone is losing sleep due to worrying. Some worries we all share as part of being human. Some are unique to our age, geographic area or life circumstance. But one thing is certain, anxiety, stress, and worry all take a toll on our overall well being. Whatever the focus of your worry, if it becomes excessive and interferes with your physical or mental health, it is time to get some help. See your doctor or therapist if worry and anxiety has impaired your quality of life and functioning.
Now it is your turn. What sorts of things do you worry about the most? Do you find that your worries change over time or have they remained fairly consistent? What helps you the most in managing your anxiety and to decrease the time you spend worrying. Let us know what you are thinking. We love to hear from you.