Is Health Affected By Worry and Regret?

Is Health Affected by Worry and Regret?


by Don Ingwerson

This blog, previously published May 7, 2012, reminded me that focusing on spiritual qualities like gratitude and happiness instead of worry and regret really brings health benefits. I hope you enjoy reading this blog again!

This morning as I prepared to go to work – work that I find exciting yet demanding – it was difficult to be enthusiastic or appreciative. I wanted to express more gratitude, but worry-laden thoughts would not leave me alone. When I arrived at work, an article by Sara Novak, “Living without Regret: The Key to Happiness Later in Life”  caught my attention. Actually it was not the article that caught my attention, but the second sentence of the article, which stated, “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it takes energy, but doesn’t get you anywhere.” This piqued my interest. How much time do we spend in this mental rocking chair with worry, what ifs, regrets, day dreaming, or just spacing out?

Charles Choi, LiveScience contributer, also backs up the idea that letting go of regrets may be the key to aging well. Choi presented a couple of studies that highlighted the effects of regret in “No Regrets: Why ‘Letting Go’ May Be Key To Happy Aging.” In one study, the participants were organized into 3 groups: a group of 25-year-olds, a group of depressed older adults, and a group of healthy older adults. The younger group and the older depressed group made riskier decisions during the study, while the older healthy group really did not change their behavior or strategy. Researcher Stefanie Brassen, a neuroscientist at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, explained, “Given that unsuccessfully aged people demonstrated a more ‘youthlike’ behavior, it seems to be essential for our emotional well-being to adapt to changing life-demands when we are older — that is, to not look back in anger and to focus on the positive.”

Simply put, regret leads to poor emotional health.

In her article, Novak provides a list of tips for living without regret. One I found very meaningful was to “set your own path; don’t live the path of others.” This speaks to individual accountability, thoughtfulness, responsibility, and trust. I have found that when I focus on expressing these qualities, it helps me avoid second-guessing and regrets. And when I acknowledge that my ability to do this comes from my relationship to a higher power, rather than from will power, it’s a kind of prayer.

Mary Baker Eddy, author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, was an early writer in the area of health and longevity. In her early research on health she wrote, “All conditions of the body are conditions of thought. When thought proceeds from divine Mind, the conditions manifested are Godlike.”

Early studies on aging and health, as well as current research, indicate that, “worrying is like the rocking chair, it takes energy, but doesn’t get you anywhere.”

At least not anywhere that you want to be.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

About the author

Don Ingwerson Don regularly blogs on health and spirituality and lives in Laguna Beach with his wife - both Christian Science practitioners. He brings his years serving the public in education to his work as a liaison of Christian Science, where he maintains contacts with the media and legislative offices.


  1. says

    Thanks, Don. It’s so beneficial to realize that bodily conditions do reflect one’s state of thinking. Regrets and reminiscences are not helpful, and we can be active in dismantling them.

  2. Tracy says

    Great post, as always, Don. I think some people fall into the trap of believing that if they AREN’T worrying, they are not being proactive. But this article proves that this couldn’t be further from the truth! We can always be moving forward in life, confident in God’s love for us.

  3. Evelyn Brookins says

    This is a post I am sharing with a number of people. Worry is one of our greatest foes – and accomplishes nothing. Thanks, Don.

  4. Anne says

    Just this morning I had a 10:00 appointment with someone I hadn’t yet met. Our initial phone contact was a bit rocky, so I was concerned about the situation.

    I prayed about it and gained a measure of dominion and peace. This Bible verse from the Book of Psalms was most helpful: “Teach me good judgment and knowledge:”

    Then by 10:30 AM, she still hadn’t arrived. With good will and a calm attitude, I called her. There was a mix-up, because she had been waiting for me to come to her office at 10:00, and my understanding was that she was coming to my home.

    It was all resoved quickly. She came right over, and our business was resolved in less than an hour. It was pleasant and productive, and her follow through was immediate.

    I was grateful I’d prepared my thought positively ahead of time. I didn’t allow worry as to what had happened create a lot of negative thoughts, and I didn’t regret that I’d called her in the first place. And the best thing is that my mental and physical health have been perfect all day!

    A good blog and well worth repeating. Thank you.

  5. Judy says

    These are most useful insights…thank you for sharing. I want to share this with several friends…

  6. Marc Thompson says

    Thank you Don. It was nice to be reminded of the rocking chair analogy. Thanks to all who responded also, I always enjoy reading what you have to say.