Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress are among the most common challenges that people face today. In fact, anxiety is the most prevalent mental health issue in America. Nearly one in five Americans deal with anxiety. Therefore, even though you might feel like you’re alone with this condition, you’re not alone at all. Many other people understand exactly what you’re going through.

Hopefully you can find a little bit of comfort in that, not just knowing you’re not alone but realizing that as distressing as anxiety is, it’s actually fairly normal. Moreover, there are ways to deal with it, and you can look to the many people who overcome it as beacons of hope that you can overcome it as well.

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Are You Experiencing Anxiety or Stress?

Anxiety is a mental health condition. Even though it’s become normal in our society, it’s not a normal state of being for the human body. In contrast, stress is normal, at least to some extent. Every animal can experience stress, and humans are definitely no exception. However, this can make things very confusing. You might feel like you’re just under normal stress when you’re actually trying to power through anxiety.

First of all, it’s important to understand that anxiety and stress can look very similar. More than that, if you undergo stress for too long, it can turn into anxiety. Therefore, it’s not surprising if you don’t know the difference. Some people feel embarrassed to go to a therapist and say, “I have anxiety,” because they think that maybe it’s just stress. Both conditions can be distressing, and you can rightfully seek help for either of them. Your therapist can help you identify whether you have anxiety or stress and help you utilize your inner strength to get past either one.

Generally speaking, stress is a reaction to a specific event or set of events. Stress can come about as a result of bad things but also from good things.

For example, many people are thrilled and excited about their upcoming wedding, but they also get stressed by it. Travel, children, and new jobs are other potential sources of positive stress. Stress can stack up; when too many challenging things happen at once and life gets overwhelming, you might feel stress. As a general guideline, stress is a short-term thing. You can usually look at your life and identify a pretty clear cause for the stress.

In contrast, anxiety doesn’t necessarily have a source. Sure, certain things can trigger anxiety. However, the feeling tends to be persistent, long-lasting, and present regardless of changes in circumstance. For example, the wedding is over, but you can’t stop obsessing about that one stupid mistake you made in your vows. The stressor (the wedding) is done and it’s your anxiety that’s causing you to mentally keep obsessing.

Learning to Cope with Anxiety

Whether you have stress or anxiety, you can learn to cope with your symptoms. In fact, if you learn to cope with stress, it can go a long way towards also helping you cope with anxiety. There will always be stress in life, so your quality of life vastly improves when you find better ways of dealing with it. As for anxiety, it’s a mental health condition that can cause great distress in your life, so learning to cope with it can provide the relief that you’ve been seeking.

It’s important to understand that you have a lot of strengths, skills, and abilities that can help you cope with anxiety and stress. When you’re dealing with either of these conditions, you’re not at your best. You might beat yourself up and start to feel like you’re incapable of being a great, successful, happy person. Anxiety, in particular, sends you a lot of mental messages about how worthless you are. It’s not true, though.

You are an amazing, skilled, and very normal human being. You can cope with anxiety using basic things that you probably already know how to do.

For example, you know how to breathe, but if you’re struggling with anxiety, then you might be underestimating this important tool. Anxiety frequently causes a tightness in the chest. You may find that you take shallow breaths, from your throat and chest rather than from your belly. You are completely in charge of changing this! You can practice slow, deep belly breaths. This is one quick, automatic way to reduce stress in your body. It also helps you cope with anxiety, including panic attacks. While your mind is busy lying to you about how hard it is to breathe, your body can take control and breathe deeply and calmly.

Therapy Can Help Alleviate Your Stress

Of course, just because you can reduce anxiety and stress on your own doesn’t mean that you have to go it alone. There are many well-researched methods of treatment that can help you get a grip on either of these conditions. Whether you simply need support during a particularly stressful time in life or you want to work through the more long-term challenge of overcoming anxiety, therapy can help.

First of all, just talking about the problem can be healing. When you’re stressed, a million thoughts go through your mind all day long. If you don’t get them out, they just keep reverberating in there. You can use journaling and talking to friends to get some of those thoughts out. However, you need to both get the thoughts out and then figure out what to do with them!

There’s nothing like the unbiased, open-minded, non-judgmental listening ear of a therapist to help you get the thoughts out, clarify them, make meaning of them, and then use that understanding to then take the steps out of your stress and anxiety.

Of course, those are just a few of the benefits of therapy. Therapy can help you find and improve upon the tools you already have to help you get through these challenges. Plus, we can provide you with new tools, additional skills, and the support necessary to put stress and anxiety behind you. Stress, in particular, might return again later in life but you’ll be well-prepared to deal with it head on. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to find out more about how we can help with anxiety treatment and stress treatment.

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