The Difference Between Worry, Stress and Anxiety

They’re not all the same, but we do have tips to help you deal with all of them.

Credit…Peter Gamlen

By Emma Pattee

  • Feb. 26, 2020

You probably experience worry, stress or anxiety at least once on any given day. Nearly 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Three out of four Americans reported feeling stressed in the last month, a 2017 study found. But in one of these moments, if asked which you were experiencing — worry, stress or anxiety — would you know the difference?

I reached out to two experts to help us identify — and cope with — all three.

Worry is what happens when your mind dwells on negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or things that could go wrong. “Worry tends to be repetitive, obsessive thoughts,” said Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, Calif., and the author of “The Stress-Proof Brain” (2017). “It’s the cognitive component of anxiety.” Simply put, worry happens only in your mind, not in your body.

Worry actually has an important function in our lives, according to Luana Marques, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. When we think about an uncertain or unpleasant situation — such as being unable to pay the rent, or doing badly on an exam — our brains become stimulated. When we worry, it calms our brains down. Worry is also likely to cause us to problem-solve or take action, both of which are positive things. “Worry is a way for your brain to handle problems in order to keep you safe,” Dr. Marques explained. “It’s only when we get stuck thinking about a problem that worry stops being functional.”

  • Give yourself a worry “budget,” an amount of time in which you allow yourself to worry about a problem. When that time is up (start with 20 minutes), consciously redirect your thoughts.
  • When you notice that you’re worried about something, push yourself to come up with a next step or to take action.
  • Write your worries down. Research has shown that just eight to 10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts.

Remember: Worry is helpful only if it leads to change, not if it turns into obsessive thoughts.

Stress is a physiological response connected to an external event. In order for the cycle of stress to begin, there must be a stressor. This is usually some kind of external circumstance, like a work deadline or a scary medical test. “Stress is defined as a reaction to environmental changes or forces that exceed the individual’s resources,” Dr. Greenberg said.

In prehistoric times, stress was a natural response to a threat, like hearing a predator in the bushes. Today, it still prompts a behavioral response, firing up your limbic system and releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which help activate your brain and body to deal with the threat, Dr. Greenberg explained. Symptoms of stress include a rapid heart rate, clammy palms and shallow breath. Stress might feel good at first, as the adrenaline and cortisol flood your body, Dr. Marques said. You might have experienced the benefits of stress as you raced through traffic to get to an appointment, or pulled together an important assignment in the final hour. That’s called “acute stress,” and the rush wore off when the situation was resolved (i.e. you turned in your assignment).

Chronic stress, on the other hand, is when your body stays in this fight-or-flight mode continuously (usually because the situation doesn’t resolve, as with financial stressors or a challenging boss). Chronic stress is linked to health concerns such as digestive issues, an increased risk of heart disease and a weakening of the immune system.

  • Get exercise. This is a way for your body to recover from the increase of adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Get clear on what you can and can’t control. Then focus your energy on what you can control and accept what you can’t.
  • Don’t compare your stress with anyone else’s stress. Different people respond differently to stressful situations.

Remember: Stress is a biological response that is a normal part of our lives.

If stress and worry are the symptoms, anxiety is the culmination. Anxiety has a cognitive element (worry) and a physiological response (stress), which means that we experience anxiety in both our mind and our body. “In some ways,” Dr. Marques said, “anxiety is what happens when you’re dealing with a lot of worry and a lot of stress.”

Remember how stress is a natural response to a threat? Well, anxiety is the same thing … except there is no threat.

“Anxiety in some ways is a response to a false alarm,” said Dr. Marques, describing a situation, for example, in which you show up at work and somebody gives you an off look. You start to have all the physiology of a stress response because you’re telling yourself that your boss is upset with you, or that your job might be at risk. The blood is flowing, the adrenaline is pumping, your body is in a state of fight or flight — but there is no predator in the bushes.

There is also a difference between feeling anxious (which can be a normal part of everyday life) and having an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a serious medical condition that may include stress or worry.

  • Limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake. Because anxiety is physiological, stimulants may have a significant impact.
  • Check in with your toes. How do they feel? Wiggle them. This kind of refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop.
  • When you’re in the middle of an anxiety episode, talking or thinking about it will not help you. Try to distract yourself with your senses: Listen to music, jump rope for five minutes, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet.

Remember: Anxiety happens in your mind and your body so trying to think your way out of it won’t help.

Here’s the takeaway: Worry happens in your mind, stress happens in your body, and anxiety happens in your mind and your body. In small doses, worry, stress and anxiety can be positive forces in our lives. But research shows that most of us are too worried, too stressed and too anxious. The good news, according to Dr. Marques, is that there are simple (not easy) first steps to help regulate your symptoms: Get enough sleep; eat regular, nutritious meals; and move your body.

Law Office of Bryan A. Chapman

Contact:

Bryan A. Chapman, Esquire

(202) 508-1499

bchapman@baclaw.com

http://www.baclaw.com

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Tips to Deal with Stress of Sexual Harassment


 

Sexual harassment is an uncomfortable and embarrassing experience for victims. Sometimes, they feel devastating after these incidents. Sexual harassment may increase anxiety and depression of a person because of shame. Remember, the sexual advances, physical or verbal conduct of sexual nature, sexual favors that implicitly or explicitly affects your job. These acts may increase the level of harassment. These events can interfere with your work performance or create an offensive or hostile work environment.

Law for Sexual Harassment

Civil Rights Act (Title VII) of 1964, a federal law, protects folks from discrimination because of sex. As per this law, it is illegal from employers to discriminate workers in firing and hiring. Sometimes, employers change terms and conditions for genders, such as raises, job opportunities, and promotions. Remember, sexual harassment is similar to sex discrimination that can increase the chances of violation of laws.

Sexual discrimination or sexual harassment under this law proves that the harasser targeted particular sex or displayed hostility to a gender. This behavior is unacceptable regardless of the gender of victim or harasser. A few states have a law for employee protection against sexual harassment. If you are a victim of sexual harassment or discrimination, immediately contact a reliable lawyer. An experienced lawyer will help you to file a report against harassment. If you are not sure what to do in this situation, a lawyer can guide you about appropriate actions.

Before reporting sexual harassment, you have to take particular steps for protection of your rights. For instance, the policy of your employer may require you to take essential steps. Sometimes, you have to submit a report of sexual harassment to managerial employees or human resources. The report should explain the details of a harasser. A lawyer can help you with the documentation. With his/her assistance, you can outline the description of harassing conduct. In the case of nervousness, you have to speak to a manager and HR. Confidently share relevant information calmly and clearly.

How can a lawyer help you?

A harassment attorney will not only help you to prepare a harassment report but also advise you to take essential steps for your protection. A few basic steps are as under:

  • Document the harassment and its related discussions with your boss.
  • Prepare you to deal with harassers (if these events continue).
  • Advise you to report future harassment to the employer.
  • Monitor response of employer to your complaint so that your boss should not retort against you.

To deal with workplace harassment, you have to respond immediately and clearly. A worker subjected to sexual harassment can be confused and emotionally drained. He/she may deal with different perspectives on his/her current circumstances to formulate an emotional response. An attorney can help you to take the right steps.

Investigation During Harassment

An employer is responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment. Your employer can’t take any negative step during an inquiry. An experienced attorney can monitor the process of investigation. The employer is responsible for proceeding with the inquiry by law.

Retaliation

Law prohibits employers from any retaliation against employees after receiving a complaint about sexual harassment. Retaliation may take numerous forms. It must not be limited to disciplinary termination or write-ups. These actions can be retaliation. If your boss removes you from a project or eliminates you from events, social outings, or meetings after reporting harassment, inform your sexual harassment lawyer. An attorney may analyze these actions to find out signs of retaliation.

Filing Charges

An attorney may define the formal measures that you may take to challenge events of sexual harassment. These may include filing discrimination charges against an employer with the anti-discrimination agency of your state.

The attorney will explain the merits and demerits of filing charges against your boss. If you are not satisfied with the response of your employer after a sexual harassment complaint, discuss this matter with your lawyer.

Understand Your Rights

Sexual harassment is a serious issue that is delimited by the law. A person can’t harass a person because of his/her sex. You can’t request sexual favors or sexual advance. It is not legal to touch a person inappropriately. If your colleague is making sexual remarks or sharing sexually offensive jokes, you can file a complaint against him/her. Remember, sexual bullying is not allowed. There is no need to work in a sexually hostile environment.

Sexual harassment can be common among male and female. The law doesn’t apply to offhand or teasing remarks. Sexual harassment occurs when adverse remarks produce a toxic environment at the office. Any kind of discrimination from an employer is unacceptable.

Impacts of Sexual Harassment on Victims

Keep it in mind that the reaction of each person for sexual harassment trauma can be different. A person may feel shocked and ultimately move to renunciation. These responses are natural because you are a victim of sexual harassment. You may feel low self-esteem. Moreover, you may find it challenging to function regularly. Try to address this issue or leave your workplace, if possible.

Victims of sexual harassment find it challenging to sleep. They don’t show interest in exercising, eating, and other tasks. Moreover, they don’t want to get up and get ready for their office. Other symptoms of sexual harassment include difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomach issues, elevated blood pressure, and forgetfulness. Victims may feel angry, betrayed, hopeless, out of control, and powerless. Sometimes, the victim experience anxiety, suicide thoughts, and depression.

Tips to Heal from Sexual Harassment

It can be difficult to move on after sexual harassment. The situation can be hopeless or complicated for you. Remember, your negative thoughts will make everything complicated. You can improve this situation with some counseling. Try to make sense and use your experience to heal from sexual harassment and move on. Here are some tips to decrease your depression and anxiety because of sexual harassment.

Accept the Situation

Try to validate your experience instead of minimizing the situation. There is no need to make excuses for the culprit. It is essential to turn your expertise into emotions. You should not bottle up your anger. Use healthy ways to express your feelings, such as stress-reducing activities, yoga, meditation, and prayer.

Share This Event with Someone

Try to talk to a safe person so that you can decrease your depression. This person should respect your feelings. You must not share your feelings with a person who will tell you that you are being emotion and overreacting. If you don’t have a trusted friend to share your feelings, you should select a support group or an attorney to share your opinions.

Journal About Experience

It is crucial to describe the effects of sexual harassment on you. Evaluate different emotions and write a letter to the harasser. Write everything that you want to tell him, but can’t. In this way, you can heal yourself. Journaling may help you to improve your situation. It is a safe way to write what is running on your mind.

Don’t Blame Yourself

Remember, sexual harassment is not your fault. There is no need to feel ashamed off because you can’t control others. You must not feel guilty after these incidents. A guilty person is a perpetrator because of sexual harassment. Completely control your response and share your displeasure with the harasser. Let this incident empower you instead of feeling confused.

Keep the past away from you and detach from possible trauma. Feel free to change your career or job for your mental satisfaction. If your identity is your work, pay attention to your work. Develop new interests and hobbies to change your workplace. Feel free to find healthy methods to deal with sexual harassment positively.

Help Others with Your Experience

After sexual harassment, you have to pay attention to your experience. Deal with this event in a better way to teach harasser a lesson. Try to help others with your experience by writing a blog. You should share your experience with readers. Build a website or support groups for victims. Speak to other people and help them to win the situation. In this way, you can turn a negative situation into positive. It will help you to build your resiliency.

Find a Reliable Counselor

A person may find it difficult to move on, so he/she will need a counselor. He/she specializes in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace. A counselor may specialize in sexual abuse or assault. It can be helpful for a victim. Moreover, you can get the mental health staff of your workplace or school after a harassment event at school or work.

Sometimes, a counselor can compromise your privacy by sharing your information with others. For this reason, you should select a reliable counselor to share your details. Try to find a counselor from a decent place. This person should have the ability to help you in this difficult time.

If your family or friends are dealing with the outcome of sexual harassment, you should help them in this situation. Ask them to meet a sexual harassment attorney to get the necessary support.


AUTHOR

Rachel Brooks

Rachel Brooks is a contributing writer for Attorney at Law Magazine and Real Estate Agent Magazine. She has written articles on various marketing and legal related topics as well as penned featured articles on legal and real estate professionals.

 

Law Office of Bryan A. Chapman

Contact:

Bryan A. Chapman, Esquire

(202) 508-1499

bchapman@baclaw.com

http://www.baclaw.com