Worried About the World?

In our worry feature, we identified six types of worriers and asked experts, including a Buddhist psychotherapist and a social-science researcher, to show us how each type can get a handle on their hand-wringing. Is this one you?

Worry Profile: Worldwide Worrier
You're concerned about the fate of the planet at large, and burdened with thoughts of war, hunger, and greenhouse-gas emissions. You feel it's your duty to keep these issues on your worry radar, and that, by doing so, you are somehow helping improve the situation.

Similar to the Existentialist, the Worldwide Worrier concerns herself with the big issues -- minus the metaphysical slant. We should all be concerned with others' safety and well-being and the health of our environment. But when these concerns overshadow all else, you create no end of guilt ("How can I worry about replacing the washer/dryer when there's a war going on, the planet's heating up, and sea levels are rising?"). It's time to pull back on the reins a bit. Although your vision and compassion are admirable, they're also getting in the way of your ability to do your best on any front.

Coping Strategy
Align Actions with Values
Support the causes you hold dear -- without committing to a life fraught wit unproductive worry. Rather than exert energy on worrying about the problem, transform those unproductive frets into actions that support the causes close to your heart. If you're concerned with climate change (and who isn't?), devise a plan for making a difference -- whether it's by changing your buying habits, writing to your mayor, or participating in local activist groups. Worrying alone is not enough to save the planet, prevent disease, or feed hungry children. Actions, even small ones, are the worry antidote

Other Types of Worriers: Which One Are You?
The Generalist
The Control Freak
The Fortune-Teller
The Existentialist
The Rehasher

Psychotherapist and yoga expert Stephen Cope, author of "The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living"; Dr. Robert Leahy, cognitive psychologist and author of "The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You."

Text by Terri Trespicio; illustrations by Laura Levine

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