3 words we have all experienced and have said throughout our lives, stress, worry and anxiety. These are also 3 words we often get mixed up without really recognising what they individually mean.
So which of these are actually the right words for what we are experiencing and feeling. In fact if we try to establish what exactly it is we are feeling, whether that be stress, worry or anxiety that in itself can create it’s own element of strain.
So to make things easier to at least identify here is some:
Stress is our body’s reaction/response to something we are worrying about. If we are feeling somewhat threatened or under pressure our body will put us under stress to help us get through it. If used in the correct way, it can certainly help you and almost act as a form of motivation. Think about the times you have needed to meet deadlines, demands at work or home that you felt “was non-negotiable” and had to be faced. The likelihood is, you proved to your mind and body that you could withstand the pressure by persevering longer than you thought you could. Indirectly welcoming and enduring that stress to alleviate the worry.
When we worry, we are referring to our thoughts that we are overly focusing on in our minds. These could be emotions, images or experiences that we are unable to control in that particular instance causing a level of distress, agitation and a feeling of an anticipated threat or consequence. This can sometimes be confused with anxiety, and for those of us who worry a lot can mistakenly confuse that with suffering with anxiety.
Anxiety is our bodies natural response to stress, and it actually a word that refers to a sustained mental health disorder that we experience through our bodies and heads. The feeling of fear, apprehension about a potential future event or experience can cause our bodies to respond to this. However, anxiety tends to cause a more severe distress and often feels less rationale than worry or general stress. The stress of a deadline, or the worry of not going to work to feed your children is likely more rationally understood than the symptoms of anxiety.
Types of anxiety
Now anxiety, is a much broader subject and there are many forms, that include (but are not exclusive too) [https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety]:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Where a person feels anxious on most days, worrying about numerous things, for an extended period of time
- Social anxiety. Where a person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.
- Specific phobias. Where a person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are numerous types of phobias.
- Panic disorder. Where a person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they’re said to have panic disorder.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) Where a person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g. war, assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month.
So, remember that getting these mixed up isn’t the end of the world. But it is important not to label yourself with anxiety if you are simply experiencing worry or stress. The last thing you want to do is go down the rabbit hole of dealing with a larger mental illness disorder. Especially when it could just be that you experienced some stress or worry. It is also important to note that, if you do suffer with stress, worry or anxiety that is okay too. These symptoms are not exclusive to any of us and 1,000,000s of people a day have to face these and overcome them. Finding your voice is about this.
For further information, be sure to check out the podcasts which are available on several platforms: www.findyourvoicepodcast.com/subscribe and designed to help you regain control of your life and find your voice.