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Productive Vs. Unproductive Worry

Unproductive Worry Quote

As we learned in the last activity, we have a fight or flight response for a reason. Our anxiety is meant to create a problem solving reaction to help us stay safe in a threatening situation.


Productive worry helps keep us safe, and helps us manage difficult situations in our lives.


Unproductive worry continues on and on, growing and consuming our thoughts even when there is not a real threat present. This type of worry can be overwhelming and interrupt your enjoyment of life. When you are experiencing unproductive worry, you are not actually doing anything that prevents a perceived threat from becoming reality.

Reasons We Worry

Some Reasons We Worry


"If I worry, I'll never have something bad take me by surprise."

It's impossible to avoid bad things happening, sometimes unexpectedly. When there is nothing you can do, that is unproductive worry. It causes you to suffer unnecessarily.


"I only worry because I care so much."

While it is wonderful to care, the real problem is if you actually believe the reverse. What you are really thinking may be, "If I DON'T worry, it would mean I don't care." That is simply not true.


"Worrying helps me to solve problems."

Actually, extreme worry interferes with problem solving. Our brain just keeps spinning its wheels and gets fatigued.

Yoga is movement and breathing practice, both of which help anxiety

Things that can help (if you missed it, read the previous activity: Teenage Anxiety)


Mindfulness, healthy food, breathing practices, exercise, muscle relaxation, grounding

Challenge Your Thoughts

Journal Activity


1. Divide a page of your SEL journal in half vertically.

2. On the left, label the column "Worries."

3. On the right, label the column "Unproductive vs. Productive."

4. Write some of your common worries on left. Think about if each one is unproductive or productive.

5. If it is a productive worry, write a "P" on the right side and also how it is productive.

6. If it an unproductive worry, write a "U" on the right side. Choose one strategy to help overcome the worry, and write it down as well.

7. As worries pop up, come back and visit this page often to help you sort them out

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