Worrying is something we all do. Those of us who have sent a teenage driver off with the family car for the first time know what it’s like to worry.
Will they meet someone on the road who is driving after drinking?
What if they pick up friends who distract them from driving carefully?
What if they speed or drive carelessly?
These are all reasonable things to think about or even to worry about. Most of us, most of the time can find ways to alleviate our worries. In the case above, we might ask our teen to check in by phone, or set an early curfew the first few times they drive.
But what if your worries are about bigger problems such as a serious illness or an abusive relationship? Perhaps someone close to you is having trouble with substance abuse. Those worries may not go away quite as easily.
Talking about the situation–and about your worries–can help. Trusted friends are a good resource. They can listen sympathetically and offer support. But they may not be able to listen as often or with the patience and skill that is called for. People with more serious worries can benefit from professional help. A trained therapist listens and helps guide the conversation with questions rather than giving advice. Sometimes there is no immediate solution to relieve the worry, but a therapist can assist in managing the worry.
How does one know they are dealing with anxiety rather than worry? Worry has a specific focus. The worry about a teen driver is a clear example. With worrying, you’ll notice a feeling of discomfort that happens once in awhile and is manageable day to day. Anxiety is more like worrying all the time. Anxiety is not focused and it is persistent. You may find yourself unable to get past what you’re worrying about, or focus on other tasks you need to complete.
If left untreated, anxiety can create health problems. It may contribute to poor sleep, digestive problems and it can impair the ability to concentrate. How can these problems be avoided? A professional can help. When someone shares their thoughts, worries and fears in conversation with a therapist, they have taken the first step in discovering the heart of the problem. Talking with a trained therapist can help a person understand what creates the anxiety; together they can explore strategies for relieving anxiety.
The science behind anxiety will be the subject of an upcoming article on the blog. Come back to read about the workings of the brain when stress and anxiety enter the picture. If you would like to alleviate your own patterns of stress, including stress and ongoing anxiety, give us a call.