The relationship between anxiety, fear, and worry
By Karen Fischer, M.S., Ed., LPC, BC-TMH, Christian Family Solutions Counseling Care & Services
The word “anxiety” is used often in conversation today. Many people are dealing with it. Even if your situation has not reached the clinical definition for anxiety, the term bounces around a lot as we discuss life situations with others.
Let’s clear up a few things about anxiety. First, it’s important to know that clinical anxiety is not an emotion. It is a condition.
The emotion related to anxiety is fear. And what we do with that emotion produces a number of things, one of which could be anxiety.
Worry is the action related to fear. It’s a thought process that says, “I’m going to take that fear and think about it.”
It’s OK to tend to fears when they arise. Fear is supposed to be there and God created it to help you be mindful and safe. Your brain is designed to look forward and backward and provide you with that information in hopes that it informs the now. While your brain may be doing its job, your it is not always doing you a favor in this. Be careful not to let fear run too far.
There are things we can do to address our fears and prevent them from growing into anxiety:
- Question whether your fear is reasonable. Discern which are normal, reasonable fears you should attend to, and which ones are starting to dominate your thoughts.
- Recognize what unchecked fear does to your body. Physical Symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, rapid heartbeat, tension in your muscles, shortness of breath. Then there are emotional symptoms, such as irritability, impatience, mood swings. Behavioral symptoms include becoming withdrawn, losing your temper, restlessness, over-sleeping, or avoidance.
- Use and practice skills that reduce those symptoms in the moment. Mindfulness exercises help you take control of your thoughts, either ahead of a situation or when you’re in the middle of a fear-inducing situation. (Find examples of these exercises in the full article linked here.)
- Take care of yourself. We know that God created us body, mind, and spirit, and these are all connected. Taking care of ourselves helps prevent anxiety.
If you (or someone you know) needs counseling services, please contact Christian Family Solutions at 800-438-1772 or visit ChristianFamilySolutions.org. CFS is a WELS parasynodical organization with more than 100 mental health clinicians who provide evidence-based care that is integrated with the healing power of the Gospel.
This is an excerpt from a longer article on the Christian Family Solutions website. Read the whole article here.
View a video: Karen Fischer talks with Pastor Bill Limmer about the relationship between Fear, Worry, and Anxiety.