Many people worry about something during their day. Common things people are worried about include health, job security, money, or a relationship. People can also worry about little things like what clothes they will wear tomorrow. Worrying is just part of the human experience and is a feeling that everyone can relate to. Feeling worried is completely normal. But anxiety is a little different.
Many people get confused about the difference between worry and anxiety. Sometimes people may think that because they’re worried about something, they have an anxiety disorder. We understand it can be confusing when it comes to worrying vs anxiety.
When it comes to defining worry vs anxiety, it is important to understand what makes them different. This is because it can help people struggling with anxiety realize what they’re feeling is more common and significant, which will hopefully lead them to seek help. In this blog, we’ll be going over the difference between worry and anxiety to give people a clear definition of each, and the different implications for health and well-being.
What is Worry?
Everyone knows what worrying is like. It’s an uneasy feeling of concern. People can get concerned about a specific situation or problem. But, worrying isn’t all bad. It can help a person improve their problem-solving ability, attention, motivation, and overall functioning. This is because worrying causes them to act on their concerns. Worrying is usually very specific, meaning the source of worry can be a certain problem or event. Worrying involves a person’s thoughts and is related to stress.
How to Reduce Excessive Worrying
Worrying less will make you feel more peaceful and content. There are a few things you can do to try and worry less in your life. Try practicing mindfulness by taking five to 10 minutes a day to focus on what you’re feeling in the moment. Then, take steps to decompress. You can also challenge yourself to think more positively. If something makes you uncomfortable, try to only expose yourself to it in small doses. Lastly, watch less news and spend less time on social media! The 24/7 news cycle and influx of information can increase feelings of stress and be overwhelming.
What is Anxiety?
There are many symptoms of anxiety. They can include agitation, feelings of panic, fear, doom, racing thoughts, dry mouth, dizziness, heart palpitations, muscle tension, shortness of breath, numbing or tingling, nausea, and stomach issues. These symptoms often make the body feel very tense and constantly tell the brain that danger is near, even when it isn’t. This makes the brain flood the body with hormones and chemicals, which makes the body feel more charged.
Worrying vs Anxiety
The main difference between worry and anxiety is how the brain reacts. Your brain is programmed to respond to threats in one of three ways. The brain will tell the body to fight, take flight, or freeze. This process happens very fast when you experience anxiety. The emotional part of your mind takes over and sends a message to the body that alerts it of the threat. This happens before the logical part can become engaged. Even if the threat is real or isn’t there anymore, anxiety still makes the mind perceive it. When it comes to worry vs anxiety, another important difference is how much they affect your body. Worry does not affect the whole body but anxiety does. This is an important difference to understand.
Let’s look at an example of worry vs anxiety:
Worry: Timmy doesn’t like squirrels. When he sees a squirrel out on his walk, he begins to feel stressed. This stress makes him take a different path. After getting out of sight of the squirrels, the stress and worry go away.
Anxiety: Timmy is constantly looking for squirrels every time he leaves his house. When he sees one, his heart begins to beat rapidly, he feels shortness of breath and begins to panic uncontrollably. These feelings continue even after the squirrel has run away. The feelings impair his ability to function.
Managing Worrying vs Anxiety
Now that you understand the difference between worry and anxiety, here are a few things you can do to reduce the feelings that accompany them.
- Breathe and focus: By taking long, slow breaths and focusing on the current moment, you can feel more grounded and less stressed.
- The “cooked noodle” exercise: Imagine all the stress and tension leaving your body and concentrate on that for 10 seconds. Do it as many times as it takes until your body is as loose and tension-free like a fully cooked noodle is.
- Turn off the news: As previously mentioned, the 24/7 news cycle can be a major contributor to worries and anxiety. Just learn the basics of what’s going on and get the facts rather than watching news on a loop.
- Grounding with 5 senses: To ground yourself in the moment and regain control of your mind and body, orient yourself with where you are using the five senses. Look in the area you’re in and identify four things you can see. Find four things you can touch and feel and think about their different textures. Listen to three different things. Focus on two things you can smell. Lastly, think of a certain taste that brings you comfort.
Worry and anxiety shouldn’t be your default mode. If you’re struggling with constant fears and concerns, talk to your doctor. Concerned about visiting the doctor? Bayless Integrated Healthcare offers video visits or other types of virtual care.