What is Stress? and What is anxiety?
At a primary school where I was doing my MORE than MINDFULNESS program I asked a group of Year 4 children (9 years olds) what stress was and they said:
“Stress means feeling worried, frustrated, annoyed, under pressure or angry or sad or upset in some way”.
It is worth pausing for a moment and deciding for yourself what does stress mean to you?
This is how the dictionary defines stress:
Stress is ‘a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances’.
Stress can be described as a feeling of being overloaded or overwhelmed. We can feel tense, worried or uptight. Everyone experiences stress sometimes. Stress is normal. Stress can be brief and happens because we have pressure around a particular situation for example we have a deadline at work.
Stress can come in a cluster of stressful moments, where several stressful things happen one after the other. For example, we have stress at work and then we get sick and then something happens to our child or partner that causes stress to them and we feel stressed each time something else happens. Each one adds to a cumulative sense of pressure.
Stress can come and go, but can also become chronic when pressures and demands seem to go on and on with no relief.
Sometimes intermittent stress can be fine and just spur us on to complete things. However, too much stress or stress that isn’t dealt with over time is detrimental to our health.
Stress can cause us to:
- Get headaches,
- Lose sleep,
- Have an upset stomach
- Be angry, teary or moody
- Feel depressed or overwhelmed
- Have issues with our blood pressure, heart or immune system
- Become chronically anxious.
What is Anxiety?
If you are depressed
you are living in the past
If you are anxious
you are living in the future,
If you are at peace,
you are living in the present
Stress, particularly if it persists and isn’t dealt with, can sometimes lead to anxiety.
‘A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome’.
Worry is a form of anxiety and, strangely enough, comes from the English word strangle. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=worry Worry is when we feel anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems.
Research and evidence
Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety tells us:
‘Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried’. ‘Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t subside – when they’re ongoing and exist without any particular reason or cause’.
Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in Australia affecting one in four of us at some time in our lives, according to Beyond Blue.
“With children with anxiety, early intervention is critical – building emotional health in childhood sets the stage for a healthy and productive life”. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety
Early intervention for children, by teaching them simple and proven techniques and practices that can help them deal with stress, anxiety and worry, is exactly what the MtM Program aims to do. It ‘builds emotional health’. It teaches children ways to look after themselves when they feel they are getting stressed.