Overthink & Worry Too Much? You’re Probably Way More Creative Because Of It

Overthink & Worry Too Much? You’re Probably Way More Creative Because Of It ©iStock/wundervisuals

Quit worrying so much” is a phrase you probably hear on a daily basis, but it’s so tough to shut that trait off — and hey, who says it’s a bad thing? Turns out, worriers are scientifically proven to be way more creative than non-worriers, at least according to researched performed at King’s College in London. Here are just a few ways creativity and anxiety are linked:

  1. Worried thoughts lead to a heightened sense of imagination.  Fear you’ve left the oven on? Are you imagining your house burning down at this very minute? First, take a deep breath — things are probably fine. But imagining the worst case scenario will help you navigate the situation at hand. Before you know it, you’ll have a plan mapped out on how to live successfully in your car with just the clothes on your back. If you’re a writer, these panicked visions will only enhance your art. You’re able to pretty much dream up any situation possible.
  2. Overthinkers always think outside the box. There are never just two choices — it never boils down to just a yes or a no. For the overthinker, there’s always some leeway in regards to decision making.  Outside the box thinkers are notoriously creative and always add something extra to the table.
  3. Worry is the mother of invention. It’s an amazing quote, but I’m not the one who thought it up — it actually came from Dr. Adam Perkins of King’s College, who was interviewed heavily about the study. “When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs through the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death,” Perkins said. He’s absolutely right — most of our technological changes wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for a few solid worriers.
  4. Neurotic people are better at problem solving. The term “neurotic” often seems a little derogatory, but in this positive light, it’s just fine. Neurotic individuals have more “self-generated thoughts” that are often linked to the ability to plan. Perkins stated that “Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person.” So true.
  5. Many creative geniuses of our time were worriers. Think back to every emo song you ever heard back in the day. Our beloved singers talked about pain, heartbreak and exploring the unknown. We related to them since we felt as if these musical artists knew everything about us. Like us, they worried and expressed their feelings through their lyrics. One of the best of the best, John Lennon, was once asked about being a genius and responded with, “Genius is a form of madness and we’re all that way… Genius is pain, too.”
  6. Worriers have helped us evolve. This one sounds like it’s a little mean, but think of it — worrying gets you out of jams. Worrying helped us survive through many natural disasters of our time. Humans are still thriving because someone was worried enough to take action and solve a crisis. Obviously this says something about the creativity of a worrier, as well. They think ahead, have strong ideas for improvement, and care strongly about the people they love. A study by Alexander Penney and a few of his colleagues called “Intelligence and emotional disorders: Is the worrying and ruminating mind a more intelligent mind?” goes into this thought process a bit more.
  7. Worried overthinkers always have a backup plan. They’re the type of people who don’t just quit their job to pursue a career in painting — they know that they’ll always need a steady source of income to support their creative hobbies, and that nothing in life is guaranteed. They’re able to balance their passions with their 9 to 5, and never put all of their eggs in one basket. And, you know what? Aside from creativity, that makes them incredibly well-rounded, intelligent individuals. That’s a category I’m proud to fit into.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.