Anxiety and Stress
In general, anxiety, in and of itself, is natural and adaptive; it is a normal reaction to stress, and it has its place as an essential signal for our safety. For example, it can motivate us to accomplish tasks like studying for an exam, or it can inform us to flee when we encounter a dangerous situation. Anxiety can, however, start to harm you rather than help you. If you are always feeling anxious, worried and avoid regular activities, school, work or social engagements this may be a sign that you need to step back and evaluate the extent that anxiety is playing in your life.
Stress plays a crucial role in anxiety. Negative events such as relationship difficulties, work troubles, or financial worries are stressful. Positive events such as purchasing a home, beginning a new job, or having a child can be stressful too. Everyone responds differently to stress, and what is stressful for one person may be of little concern to another. Stress is anything which pushes us out of our comfort zone. We are not equipped to handle overwhelming long-term stress which will eventually lead to negative consequences impacting both our physical and mental health.
The symptoms of stress can affect our emotional, physical, cognitive and behavioural functioning. Recognising the signs of stress can help us identify when it is becoming too much.
- Emotional symptoms include being easily agitated, sadness, frustrated and moody, feelings of overwhelm and loss of control.
- Physical symptoms can include low energy, headaches, tense muscles, nausea, insomnia, chest pain, frequent colds and digestive problems.
- Cognitive symptoms include constant worry, difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, forgetfulness, disorganisation, poor judgment and pessimism.
- Behavioural symptoms include changes in appetite, procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities, social withdrawal, increased use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.
Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you manage it. Stress and anxiety are treatable conditions, and there are many resources, strategies and treatments that can help.
|Symptoms||Anxiety attack||Panic attack|
|emotional||apprehension and worry||✓|
|fear of dying or losing control||✓|
|a sense of detachment from the world (derealization) or oneself (depersonalization)||✓|
|physical||heart palpitations or an accelerated heartrate||✓||✓|
|shortness of breath||✓||✓|
|tightness in the throat or feeling like you’re choking||✓||✓|
|chills or hot flashes||✓||✓|
|trembling or shaking||✓||✓|
|numbness or tingling (paresthesia)||✓||✓|
|nausea, abdominal pain, or upset stomach||✓||✓|
|feeling faint or dizzy||✓||✓|
Jodi Kunz, MC, is a trained EMDR therapist and is experienced in working with trauma, plus many more. For more information on Jodi and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.