Worry Less, Sleep More Series: Solvable vs Unsolvable Worries

When it comes to getting a handle on worry, it is crucial to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries. But how do you do that?

Research has shown that while you are engaged in worry, you temporarily feel less anxious. That might sound strange, but worrying actually acts as a distraction from your emotions and makes you feel like you are making some progress and accomplishing something. But there are key differences between plain worrying and problem solving.

Problem solving revolves around assessing a situation, deciding on the next steps for dealing with it and then putting them into action. By comparison, worrying rarely leads to solutions. It doesn’t matter how long you spend thinking about worst-case scenarios, you’re no more prepared to deal with them if they do actually happen.


Solvable worries are those you can take steps to solve straight away. Worrying about these can be productive, for example if you’re worried about delivering a presentation in work, then you could take some public speaking classes.