Stress and anxiety are two different things. Stress can be described as the way that your body responds to a threat or situation. Your body starts up it’s natural ‘fight-or-flight’ response to deal with that threat or situation. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a feeling of extreme worry and/or fear. It is often accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness, sensitivity to heat, nausea, frequent use of the bathroom, etc.
The difference between them is that stress is external or physical, and anxiety is internal or mental.
If there is one thing that still frightens me today about anxiety, it’s how powerful anxiety can be when it’s happening. I’m not just talking about symptoms here. I’m talking about the way that it changes your perspective of yourself. Your self-confidence, attitude, and mood are all affected. It doesn’t matter how positive or happy of a person you are normally. When anxiety arrives for a visit, you are consumed by it. It’s scary. An intense battle of internal conflict against yourself.
It can be more scary when you think about the fact that anxiety can strike when you least expect it. Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter if what you’re currently doing invokes stress or not. Most anxiety attacks that I encounter, when brought on by something I’m nervous about, typically lasts anywhere from 1-3 minutes (however, they feel like an eternity). In those moments, my mind is quickly clouded with worry and fear. Aside from my usual experience of symptoms I’ve described in my previous post, my mental state is attacked. My self-confidence drops to near 0. Sometimes, feelings of depression can form, where all your life’s problems suddenly seem too great to deal with.
It’s an intense battle of internal conflict with yourself. Your conscience versus self-conscience. How do you convince yourself that your worry or fear is unnecessary? 99% of the time, I know this to be true. But that other side of brain isn’t convinced. How crazy is that? It sounds insane, but that’s what it’s like.
One of the keys to fighting the power that anxiety brings to the table is something that you will hear often here, but it’s because it’s so important. You need to be able to vent your problems, issues, worries, etc. to someone willing to listen. Until you express your concerns with someone, it’s all mixing together in your sub-conscience with only it’s own thoughts and opinions to apply to it. And we humans aren’t always the most naturally positive thinkers believe it or not. I know it’s not an easy solution for everyone. Anxiety is capable of turning the most outgoing person into a person that can’t talk to anybody. But taking that step out of the darkness and reaching out… When you feel the sense of weight lifting off your shoulders, that sense of relief that comes from knowing that you are no longer alone in your struggle, it will make reaching out easier the next time. Trust me.