In order to learn how to reduce stress and anxiety, we need to understand the difference between thinking, stress and anxiety. If we want to be happy, we need to understand our emotions well, and how to manage them.
In this post, we are addressing an important question-is there a difference between thinking, stress and anxiety?
This is 2020. We are living in one of the most difficult years the humanity has faced and it’s important to understand the difference between things that go through our minds. It is important for our collective and individual mental health.
I want to start with a disclaimer- I am not a mental health professional, but I am a human being who tends to observe his thoughts quite closely.
With that said, let us get started.
Thinking is good for you.
Stress and anxiety are not.
Let us look at one at a time.
What is thinking?
Thinking is the activity of breaking down a problem into parts and making progress in finding a solution. It helps you in making sense of the world about you, in understanding yourself. You think about your past, your present, and your future.
Thinking is important and human. To think is to break reality and make sense of it. You and I learn to think through our education system, through various subjects and form opinions of the world about us.
We are thinking all the time
On a given day, we think about so many things. Right now, as I write this, I am thinking about what thinking means and what is its impact in our lives. You are thinking as you read this, what this means to you.
It’s a good thing. Thinking doesn’t tax your mind. It improves your mind and quality of life. You should think about something every day. Your work and your job involves thinking through problems that you face. You need to think about problems in your personal life and how to keep your partner away from thinking that you are about to kill them.
A lot of people don’t think for themselves and as a consequence, they do not have opinions of their own. They rely on other people to do the thinking for them, and they just end up borrowing opinions from people who do the thinking.
In the context of mental health, thinking is a positive activity. In fact, I would highly recommend original thinking. Come up with your own ideas, and try to implement them.
Thinking makes you a better person and an evolved professional, who is intelligent and smart.
Think it through.
What is stress?
If thinking is a good thing, what the hell is stress? Is stress good for bad?
Stress is experiencing negative thoughts about a situation. It causes worry, which is disturbing thoughts. Stress is generally a situation which is caused by a circumstance in your life.
For example, in a situation like COVID, where a lot of people have lost their jobs, people who do have jobs have been stressed about losing their jobs. It has caused them worry about their status of employment.
Performing artists have been stressed about the future of their careers since the performing venues aren’t opening anytime soon. Although they have opened in some cases, but people are stressed about safety.
Therefore, stress is negative exertion in your mind
There is a lot one can do to deal with stress, but that is not the focus on this article. Some of the things one can do is to either try to change/accept the situation that’s causing you stress while keeping your physical and mental health intact.
Therefore, stress is a negative thing and it causes a lot of damage to lives if it is not handled. What you need to do about stress is to acknowledge it, and then see what you can do about it. The causes of stress can either be attacked or they need to be accepted.
For example, if you are worried about a family member who is dealing with cancer, what you can do is to ensure that the treatment goes according to medical advice. At the same time, the overall outcome of the treatment may not be in your control and therefore, you need to let go of the stress at an intellectual level.
What is anxiety?
Now, let us talk about anxiety. Anxiety, as per dictionary is distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.
Now, unlike stress, you may not be able to connect to the exact source of anxiety. Anxiety is a prolonged problem for many people, it is an outcome of years of suppressed pain, pain that wasn’t addressed or found closure.
Anxiety could cause lifestyle problems like insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension and irritability. In case you feel anxious on a regular basis, you may need to see a mental health professional like a psychologist, psychiatrist or a counsellor, depending on the intensity of your problems.
However, in many cases, a chat with an understanding friend, partner or colleague could help. People who go through severely traumatic experiences are likely to face anxiety and worries about what the future holds.
Anxiety is difficult to manage, than stress, which is an everyday problem and is easier to manage.
We looked at the definitions of thinking, stress and anxiety in this piece. Thinking leads to happiness. On the other hand, we need to fight stress and anxiety for our days to be happier.
Our mind is a complicated machine and we need to watch it every day. When things are good, it’s highly likely not to face stress and anxiety, but it is important to understand that they are a part of our lives.
I don’t think there is anyone who lived a life and never experiences stress/anxiety or both. We all know what it feels like, and it is not pretty.
However, thinking is not stress or anxiety. Thinking is probably the most important activity we do on an everyday basis and it makes our lives better. The process of thinking is the process of arriving at solutions for the problems we face and hence it makes us happier.
Think by all means and do whatever you need to do to keep stress and anxiety at bay.
Thank you for reading.
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I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.
If you liked this post, you may enjoy reading this post about stress.