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21 Feb 2019
Anxious or Stressed
Anxiety is one of those words, that has made it into the common psyche, we used to talk about being ‘stressed’, and now we often talk about being ‘anxious’.
If you ask the average person if they are more or less anxious, than they were say five years ago, or ten years ago, the chances are they would answer with an emphatic ‘yes – more anxious’. That’s not totally surprising, the world has got quite a bit scarier in recent years, with us all more aware of terrorism, politics, economics and more… Alongside that the world is generally a more complicated place for most of us, there are now so many opportunities, but with that comes an element of stress caused through many choices and decisions that have to be made.
So, what is the difference between stress and anxiety? Well, all of us at some point will experience stress. We may have a difficult day, an accumulation of things piling on top of us from getting up late, to traffic, to a difficult client/boss, to poorly children – you name it. You may also experience stressful periods in your life – think the big events like moving house, getting married, having a baby, getting divorced, caring for relatives and more… But anxiety really comes into play, when your situation has become unbearable. We can all tolerate a level of stress in our lives, and at times it can even be useful, but when it has become unmanageable and constantly painful, when all of your thinking is ‘disaster style’, and you are constantly waiting for the next bad thing to happen – then that is anxiety.
Many people continue to function in life, while experiencing anxiety, you may experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart, dizziness, irritability, restlessness, insomnia and difficulties in concentrating is common, this is not an exhaustive list, but just some common indicators. But alongside this may be a feeling that life is passing you by, that you are in it – but not really living it.
Women are more likely to suffer with anxiety than men, and many will not seek help – preferring to soldier on, or rationalising why they are feeling like this – being busy, caring for everyone else and so on.
Going to your GP is a good first point of call, they may discuss with you a range of options, including medication if appropriate:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – is a useful short-term approach, which is good for dealing with more recent examples of anxious behaviour.
Psychotherapy – is more suited to when the anxiety is deep rooted, or perhaps connected to a past trauma.
- One of the reasons that therapy is so good for dealing with anxiety, is the practise of feelings that have been put into words – expressed for someone else to hear, lose their power, they somehow become much less toxic and the process can be very healing.
Alongside seeking professional help, you may find it useful to try some self-help therapies to manage your levels of anxiety, for example:
Certain foods and drinks we consume like those containing caffeine or alcohol can increase our stress levels and make anxious feelings worse.
Whilst you may not feel like exercising, there are health benefits to doing so, exercising assists the body to metabolise adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones), which can make your mind and body feel much calmer.
You may not feel like socialising, but being with other people and interacting can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Interrupted and poor sleep only adds to increasing our stress levels, so if at all possible, try everything you can to improve your sleep quantity and quality.
Practises like meditation can also be useful in quietening the mind, and reducing cortisol levels in the body.Tweet