Anxiety and stress exist along a spectrum of intensity, from simply a subtle inability to be relaxed to anxiety/panic attacks.
Stress and anxiety are actually different, however they can accentuate each other. Stress is usually associated by external influences such as work, financial problems and relationship disharmony to name a few. While anxiety is caused by internal influences or unconscious beliefs.
They are both a reflection of what is going on inside us. So we are really talking about how we personally interpret our environment: For example what stresses one person may not stress another.
Not all stress is undesirable or negative however, for example positive stress can occur when we get excited, play a game, or are anticipating or doing something challenging or pleasurable.
Anxiety as opposed to stress is due to internal forces. Simplistically put, it can be viewed as a state of internal/unconscious expectation of some future threat (which is not always real). This can be a constant process which the sufferer is not always aware of.
Anxiety and stress can interfere negatively with life in terms of:
- Stopping achievements.
- Health – mental and physical problems.
- Preventing peace of mind.
- Causing tensions in relationships, family life and career.
- Unstable emotional states – angry outbursts or shutting down.
- Withdrawing from life and avoiding social situations.
- The inability to sleep well.
- The inability to judge which can affect actions.
- Addiction to food, alcohol, television, sex, drugs and other distractions to numb or escape from the usually unrecognised pain.
- Causing fatigue.
- Feeling of dread and apprehension.
These feelings can lead to or be combined with low self-esteem and low self-worth possibly leading to isolation and depression.
As with other issues, responses to stress and states of anxiety may have roots in early life negative (including traumatic) experiences which were through later experiences.
Counselling helps to develop awareness of the anxiety as it fluctuates and to recognise the triggers or situations which make it worse. By creating a safe and none judgemental environment and if the client is comfortable, counselling can explore beyond the symptoms to the deeper underlying reasons (unconscious beliefs and memories) bringing about the anxiety.
Then there is opportunity for healing and release from the issue and realise more peace in life.