About Stress, Tension and Anxiety


What Are Stress, Tension And Anxiety?

Most of you will experience stress, tension or anxiety during your lifetime. If you are not able to cope with it straight away and intentionally, it could overwhelm you and prevent you from efficiently performing tasks that you have to do. When in a state of stress, tension or anxiety you can be said to be in a state of dis-ease. The terms stress, tension and anxiety are closely related and are often used to mean the same thing but they actually describe different states. What these three states have in common is that you experience excessive feelings of uneasiness. You worry about perceived excessive or dangerous demands that are made of you on an interpersonal level. These stressed, anxious or tense states could result in the impairment of your functioning: either in a socially, occupationally, physically or other important area of your life. You experience an excessive sensitivity to the opinions, attitudes and demands of other people.

What Is Stress?

Stress refers to an effort or a demand placed upon your physical, mental or emotional energy. This state of stress is usually linked to specific experiences, situations, things or people that you fear, such as an exam or a person in a superior position. This state of stress produces the same feelings as a state of anxiety but stress usually manifests in physiological damage.

What Is Tension?

Tension refers to mental strain or excitement, a strained state or relationship. Tension places pressure on you but usually enables you to create focus and action. The line between tension and stress is narrow and it may not take much pressure to turn your tension into stress.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety refers to a state of being worried about significant danger and being excessively concerned about uncertain outcomes in the future, whether it has an actual foundation or is merely perceived. However, this state of anxiety is not usually linked to specific experiences, situations, things or people. It is usually a vague, undefined, feeling of dread which appears difficult for you to manage.

What Other Terms Are Used Instead Of Stress, Tension Or Anxiety?

There is often some confusion as to what is actually meant because other terms are used instead of stress, tension or anxiety, such as: agitation, apprehension, concern, consternation, difficulty, disquiet, distress, edginess, fearfulness, foreboding, fretfulness, grief, hassle, nervousness, tension, stress, misgiving, nervousness, pain, perturbation, pressure, strain, suffering, suspense, trauma, trepidation, trouble, uneasiness, worry, etc.; or expressions like: butterflies in the stomach, the collywobbles, the heebie-jeebies, the jitters, the jumps, the shakes, twitchiness, the willies, the yips, etc. In circumstances where physical symptoms are experienced acutely and there is a rapid build-up of overwhelming physical sensations, this is referred to as a panic attack. For more information and help regarding anxiety and panic attacks please visit Mind.

How Do I Get Stressed?

The term stress is often used to describe feelings you have when you have demands made upon you that are greater than your capacity to cope. When this happens you can feel overwhelmed, under a great deal of pressure and be highly sensitive or emotional. Stress can affect anyone, be you young or old and is a normal reaction experienced now and then when you come across situations that cause you to feel under pressure. Feeling stressed is considered a two-step process:
  • Firstly, it depends on whether or not you consider a situation you find yourself in to cause you to feel anxiety.
  • Secondly, it depends on how your body reacts to your individual thought processes. This second stage is an instinctive stress response you have to unexpected events. It is termed the "fight or flight" stress response which is a hard-wired reaction or physiological response.

What Is The "Fight or Flight" Stress Response?

The "fight or flight" response is a hard-wired reaction or physiological response to stressful situations, which quickly releases hormones that help you to survive, such as run faster and fight harder. The opposite response to this is the “relaxation response.”

What Happens During The "Fight or Flight" Stress Response?

During the “fight or flight” stress response, hormones cause a number of things happen:
  • Faster heart rate with an increased blood pressure delivers more oxygen and blood sugar to power major muscles;
  • Breathing is faster to supply more oxygen for conversion to energy;
  • Sweating increases to try to cool the major muscles and help them remain efficient;
  • Blood is diverted away from the skin to the core of the body to minimise blood loss if there is an injury;
  • Immune system is activated to be ready to tend to any injuries;
  • Attention and vision become acute and highly focused on the threat to the exclusion of all other things;
  • Sense of pain is reduced as the body releases analgesic hormones.
No matter which response you choose, “fight” or “flight”, your body will use a great deal of energy which in turn avoids the build-up of stress related to the response.


About Relaxation

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