Checking in on Anxiety
Anxiety and fear are different.
According to author Max Lucado, fear sees a threat, while anxiety imagines one. Fear screams “Get out!” Anxiety ponders “What if?” Fear is an emotional response to a known threat.
Anxiety is a more vague sensation and is often a response to an unknown threat. Although different, they are interrelated. Fear can cause anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear. Anxiety is often thought of as bad, but some anxiety might be called “good stress,” keeping us motivated and excited about life. Research has shown that students and athletes who experienced some anxiety actually performed better on tests and in competitive sports. One of my Professors used to say: “Butterflies mean you’re ready.”
Anxiety can be viewed as a hard-wired warning system that helps us to react faster to an emergency. For example, I was recently driving on the Interstate at night when I realized there were cars urgently changing lanes with brake lights on and slowing down ahead of me. My heart rate picked up, I tuned out the music playing in the background and began to focus more intently on what was going on ahead of me. These feelings of anxiety kicking in helped me to become more aware of a situation ahead that might require a change in my driving.
The next time you’re feeling like you’re moving from calm to a sensation of anxiety, take a look inside and get to know your visitor. Ask: “Have you come to assist in some way, and if so how do I pay attention to you?” If you’re not getting good information you may need to check back in: “You’ve been around awhile Mr. Anxiety, and I’m just not sure of your purpose, so I’ll wish you a good day and move on.” Is your anxiety a helpful short-term guest, or a lingering stranger who wants to prolong an unhealthy stay?
If you feel the need for additional support during these stressful times, you don’t have to walk this road alone. Reach out to us at 615-591-5262.
Blog written by Refuge Center Masters Level Intern, Kevin Virden
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The Refuge Center for Counseling is a 501c3 nonprofit organization (20-3831943). We are also a United Way of Williamson County Partner Organization.