What’s a Normal Level of Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety are connected but also different. Stress is related to feeling overwhelmed and incapable of managing the things that you have to do. Productive stress motivates you to get stuff done; poisonous stress contributes to worry and anxiety. You can’t get things accomplished to feel a sense of satisfaction. Stress can also be related to life circumstances such as poverty, illness and racism that cause you distress but have not clear resolution in sight.

Anxiety is a natural physiological and psychological response related to fears and worries. Panic, irrational thinking, reactivity, increased heart rate, perspiration, shortness of breath or insomnia are all signs of anxiety. Anxiety is about safety and security. Anxiety arises because people want to make uncomfortable feelings and uncertainty go away immediately–whether these concerns are based in reality or distorted and based on negative expectancy. Anxiety disorders often have a negative impact on several areas of someone’s functioning simultaneously.

It’s common for people to experience some type of anxiety seen as worry, dread, fear or distress. Some nervousness in a new situation or worry about chronic stress is expected. If these concerns fail to go away once you’ve learned how to manage the worry or stress and you experience persistent anxiety that is interfering with daily living, healthy choices, mood stability, or functioning at work, anxiety has become problematic and needs treatment. If your anxiety is higher than normal, first consult with your doctor to rule out any medical causes. Then, you’ve got to learn some tools to manage it. Meditation, yoga, daily exercise, therapy and medication can be extremely useful in reducing anxiety. You’ll benefit from learning how to soothe yourself and confront anxious, distorted thoughts to reduce their intensity. Don’t try to remove anxiety from your life: it doesn’t work because we need some anxiety to function, protect and aid us in dangerous or challenging situations. Instead, focus on anxiety reduction so that you feel like you have more control over it. The goal is teaching yourself how to manage the volume button on your anxiety rather than having blast you at full volume with its fears and worries.

Read more about Anxiety, depression and more