September 16, 2022
How to Handle Feelings of Worry, Stress, and Anxiety
When discussing one’s mental health, they may terms like worry, stress, and anxiety somewhat interchangeably, but they are three very different things. And by defining them, there are strategies to try and cope with each of the three sensations.
Experts say the difference between worry and anxiety is that worry exists only in the mind—it doesn’t lead to any symptoms in the body.
Worrying can actually be a positive because it allows us to calm our brains down over an unpleasant situation or scenario. Ways to turn worrying into something productive include writing down your worries, come up with a next step or action item over a worrisome situation, and only allow yourself to be worried about a problem for a certain amount of time (say, 20 minutes). After that time, redirect your thoughts to something else.
Stress is a behavioral response stemming from an external circumstance like a work deadline or medical test (aka a stressor). Stress can become a problem when it’s chronic—when we’re constantly in a state of heightened awareness from extra adrenaline or cortisol that create a rapid heart rate, clammy palms, and digestive issues.
Making sure we’re getting exercise to expend physical energy is a good way to manage stress. You can also focus your energy on controlling what you can control and accept what you cannot.
Anxiety can be a combination of worry and stress, as it can affect both the mind and body. It can be considered the end result when you’re dealing with a lot of worry and stress. Anxiety can also occur when there is no actual threat like what causes worry or stress. Just a perceived threat can be enough to trigger symptoms of anxiety.
Stimulants have a big part of a body’s anxious response, so cutting back on caffeine and sugar can really help with symptoms. Meditating can also help keep the brain calm, and if you are in the middle of an anxiety episode, try to distract yourself with a pleasing activity like listening to music.