Why Being Anxious Isn’t Just ‘Being Anxious’

When someone says that they’re experiencing anxiety, do you know what they mean?

In a joking manner, you may have heard the phrase, “oh my god I get such anxiety over that!” Let me be one of the first (perhaps) to tell you that they really don’t mean they’re experiencing anxiety. They may very well be nervous… unless they’re experiencing the following symptoms (according to Mayo Clinic):

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

If someone just doesn’t “like to idea of something” or is “annoyed” by something, they’re probably not actually experiencing anxiety.

I’ll also mention that being “anxious” is not the same as being “worried” about something.

Every mother “worries” about her kids. She’s concerned about their well-being, but is she sweating over them? Losing sleep over them? Are the kids such a constant thought in her mind that it’s actually impossible to think about anything else? If so, she’s suffering from anxiety. If she simply “wants what’s best for her kids,” then that’s another feeling and discussion entirely.

Just to provide example, I’ll explain how I feel physically and mentally when I enter a grocery store. I actually have irrational fears that tell me someone will knock me down to get their groceries because I’m smaller than them. Sometimes folks can be that rude! I’ll sweat at that thought. I’ll have heart palpitations. My breathing will become heavier with every arm that reaches around me (I call it “inspector gadgeting”) for some product. It’s very hard to not become hyper-aware of my surroundings. That is anxiety.

To cope with this, my husband and I try to go to the store when its less busy and make sure our grocery trips are short.

It’s my hope that you’ll treat those who express these emotions, and manifest them physically, with sincerity and care. Please do know, there is a difference.

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