It’s very normal for us to worry about various things throughout our day. Worrying is one of our brain’s most effective ways of protecting ourselves so that we can be prepared for whatever is coming next in our lives. Unfortunately, when worry becomes excessive, it can lead to anxiety.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world, with almost 40 million Americans experiencing some form of it throughout the year. It’s important to take steps to manage it if it’s something you struggle with. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when something is just normal worrying or if it’s a sign of a broader struggle with anxiety.
Here are the key differences between anxiety and worry, and steps you can take to manage anxiety if it’s something you struggle with.
Anxiety Vs. Worry
There are some key differences between anxiety and worry that are important to be aware of. Knowing the difference between these two states of mind is essential for managing them. Here’s what to keep in mind when thinking about the difference between these two states.
Worries are very specific, while anxiety tends to be more generalized. For example, if you have a work presentation coming up, you might be worried about what you’re doing to say or how clients will react. However, many people have a broader sense of social anxiety about work that feels more like an underlying dread, instead of being triggered by one specific situation.
Typically, anxiety comes with physical symptoms, while worrying is much more mental. When you feel anxious, you might experience things like a racing heart, tense muscles, or shortness of breath, for example. Anxiety can even lead to illness in its most extreme forms. However, when you worry, you’re only experiencing the thoughts in your head.
Anxiety is very difficult to control, while worrying is much simpler and easier to manage. For example, when you are feeling worried about something, you can often counteract that feeling by thinking logically about it. However, when you are feeling anxious about something, the feeling is much more intense, and it is difficult to stop once it starts – even if you know there’s nothing really threatening you. For people who have anxiety, this can be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming.
Anxious thoughts are often very unrealistic and blown out of proportion, while worries are much more relevant to your daily life. For example, if you are stressed about your partner breaking up with you because you had a fight, you’re experiencing worry, but if you are having similar thoughts without a fight or any other triggers, you’re feeling anxious.
Anxiety is ongoing and can affect our ability to be productive, while worry is temporary. Anxiety can also affect the way we interact with those around us, while worry is much less likely to.
Most people who have anxiety will struggle with it for the majority of their lives and need to take steps to manage it, while worrying is something very normal that everyone experiences from time to time, and is nothing to be concerned about.
Strategies to Manage Anxiety
If you struggle with anxiety, there are many strategies you can use to manage your symptoms so you can be happier and more productive on a regular basis. Here are some things you can do to mitigate anxiety.
Meditate. Meditation is an age-old strategy for clearing the mind and relaxing the body, and there are many different ways to do it. Regardless of which meditation strategy you choose, you will be observing and then releasing your negative thoughts, and you will also be releasing physical tension through deep breathing. You can meditate on your own, but if you aren’t comfortable doing that, you can also use guided meditation, or even take a yoga class, which often contains elements of meditation.
Use massage therapy to release physical tension. Anxiety isn’t just a mental condition – it’s also a physical one, and all of that stress can manifest itself as muscle tension over time. Massage therapy and other physical treatments are a great way to release some of the stress that you have been carrying with you physically. It’s also an effective way to prevent chronic pain and injury that can happen due to stress.
Find a form of exercise you enjoy and practice it regularly. Working out is one of the best ways to mitigate stress because it releases chemicals in your brain that help keep your mood balanced. If you don’t enjoy working out in a gym, don’t force yourself to– instead, try doing something outside or taking a class, so that working out can be a fun and positive experience.
For many people, a big source of anxiety is feeling like you aren’t in control of your life, or not knowing what’s coming next. A good way to prevent this feeling is to use an agenda or an online calendar to keep track of what’s coming up in your life and set reminders for yourself. Once you have a system for keeping everything together, things won’t seem so hectic. On the other hand, you might also benefit from journaling at the end of the day to get your thoughts out and clear your head. Writing down the things that are giving you anxiety is one of the best ways to manage it.
See a therapist or psychiatrist. Everyone’s anxiety is different, and a professional can give you the best strategies for managing it. A therapist can help you process your feelings and offer emotional support during difficult times, and a psychiatrist can prescribe you medication for your anxiety if you need it. This professional support can be extremely beneficial and even necessary during difficult times.
Differentiating feelings of worry from feelings of anxiety will help you better identify the appropriate steps to remedy the feeling. If you do struggle with anxiety, don’t be afraid to seek help. It’s one of the most common mental health conditions in the world, and there are so many resources out there that can help you live a happy and comfortable life despite the presence of anxiety.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Brent Wells is a professional Juneau chiropractor and founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab. Originally from California, he studied at Western States Chiropractic College in Oregon, before moving to Alaska to start his practice. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association.
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