• Kristina Cherep

Anxiety Or Stress?

I actually had no idea that anxiety and stress were two completely different things until I was in my outpatient program. The two are somewhat similar in the sense that it is this feeling of nervousness. However, the difference in the two are the reason for the feeling. If you have a big deadline or have to give a huge speech and feel nervous then that is stress. If you are feeling nervous for no reason then that is anxiety. Of course, people with an anxiety disorder have deadlines and speeches to feel stressed about. It's when this nervous feeling is present when it doesn't need to be and has no reason to be there.

Some people who are feeling stressed out may take a break to relieve the stress and it works. People with anxiety might take the same kind of break, but feel no sense of relief. Talking to a friend can also help to relieve stress. A person with anxiety will sometimes not enjoy talking to friends because they will be over analyzing every thing. This over analyzing will lead to coming to the worst conclusion possible... people with anxiety are good at that.

Since anxiety and stress are two different things. Relieving the nervous feeling takes different techniques. Obviously, every one is different so what relieves one person may not help everyone. Think about what you do to help relieve stress. It may be to watch tv, text your friends, eat food, or even check your social media. Unfortunately, these activities will most likely not help someone with an anxiety disorder having anxiety. The key word for people with anxiety disorders is MINDFULNESS. In my outpatient anxiety program, we started each day with a different mindfulness activity. I will make a different post to share all the different techniques that I learned.

I would like to share with you my favorite one. It is called 5 4 3 2 1. The first time my therapist asked me to do this, I felt stupid. It actually gave me more anxiety because I felt like he was treating me like a baby. The next day I was driving to my program and was feeling anxiety. I was scared because I didn't want to get into an accident (yes, I did find the worst conclusion possible). I was thinking about all the different mindfulness techniques I could try. 5 4 3 2 1 is what I thought of.

5 4 3 2 1 asks you to use all five of your senses. It's supposed to make you feel more grounded and focus on your surroundings instead of being stuck in your negative thoughts. You can do the senses in any order you want depending on the circumstances. I usually do 5 things I can see, 4 things I can hear, 3 things I can feel, 2 things I can smell, and 1 thing I can taste. However, if I am feeling anxiety laying in bed or eating I switch up the senses order.

This might sound silly to you, but it actually is my go to technique. I use this technique several times a week. When my husband notices my anxiety wave approaching its peak, he immediately asks "What are five things you can see?" You can do this technique in your head or even aloud depending on the circumstances. I usually do this in my head unless my husband is prompting me.