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How to cope with worry, stress, and anxiety - what's the difference?


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Also see: 

Ways to cope with daily anxiety

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms




This topic is based on an article in the New York Times: 


The online article is free of charge but may require the reader to sign in/create an account to gain access. 


I appreciate how the information is presented in a clear and simple way, with practical tips for non-drug coping strategies. 

The subject matter seems relevant to SA members (of course we should still keep in mind that our brains and nervous systems are sensitized/destabilized, and we may have paradoxical/unexpected reactions).


An edited version of the article appears below. Omitted sections are marked in the text with ( . . . . )



The Difference Between Worry, Stress and Anxiety 

By Emma Pattee

Feb. 26, 2020


( . . . . )


What is worry?

Worry is what happens when your mind dwells on negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or things that could go wrong. “Worry tends to be repetitive, obsessive thoughts,” said Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, Calif., and the author of “The Stress-Proof Brain” (2017). “It’s the cognitive component of anxiety.” Simply put, worry happens only in your mind, not in your body.


( . . . . )


Three things to help your worries:

- Give yourself a worry “budget,” an amount of time in which you allow yourself to worry about a problem. When that time is up (start with 20 minutes), consciously redirect your thoughts.

- When you notice that you’re worried about something, push yourself to come up with a next step or to take action.

- Write your worries down. Research has shown that just eight to 10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts.


( . . . . )


What is stress?

Stress is a physiological response connected to an external event. In order for the cycle of stress to begin, there must be a stressor. This is usually some kind of external circumstance, like a work deadline or a scary medical test. “Stress is defined as a reaction to environmental changes or forces that exceed the individual’s resources,” Dr. Greenberg said.


Three things to help your stress

- Get exercise. This is a way for your body to recover from the increase of adrenaline and cortisol.

- Get clear on what you can and can’t control. Then focus your energy on what you can control and accept what you can’t.

- Don’t compare your stress with anyone else’s stress. Different people respond differently to stressful situations.


( . . . . )


What is anxiety?

If stress and worry are the symptoms, anxiety is the culmination. Anxiety has a cognitive element (worry) and a physiological response (stress), which means that we experience anxiety in both our mind and our body. “In some ways,” Dr. Marques said, “anxiety is what happens when you’re dealing with a lot of worry and a lot of stress.”


( . . . . )


Three things to help your anxiety

- Limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake. Because anxiety is physiological, stimulants may have a significant impact.

- Check in with your toes. How do they feel? Wiggle them. This kind of refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop.

- When you’re in the middle of an anxiety episode, talking or thinking about it will not help you. Try to distract yourself with your senses: Listen to music, jump rope for five minutes, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet.


( . . . . )


Here’s the takeaway:

Worry happens in your mind, stress happens in your body, and anxiety happens in your mind and your body. ( . . . . )


The good news

( . . . . ) there are simple (not easy) first steps to help regulate your symptoms: Get enough sleep; eat regular, nutritious meals; and move your body.



Edited by Ariel
added admin note and links

1996-2018 - misc. polypharmacy, incl. SSRIs, SNRIs, neuroleptics, lithium, benzos, stimulants, antihistamines, etc. (approx. 30+ drugs)

2012-2018 - 10mg lexapro/escitalopram (20mg?)    Jan. 2018 - 10mg -> 5mg, then from 5mg -> 2.5mg, then 0mg  -->  July 2018 - 0mg

2017(?)-2020 - vyvanse/lisdexamfetamine 60-70mg    2020-2021 - 70mg down to 0mg  -->  July 2021 - 0mg

March-April 2021 - vortioxetine 5-10mg (approx. 7 weeks total; CT)  -->  April 28th, 2021 - 0mg

August 2021 - 2mg melatonin   August 1, 2022 - 1mg melatonin   March 31, 2023 - 0mg melatonin

2024 supplements update: electrolyte blend in water sipped throughout the day; 1 tsp fish oil blend w/ morning meal (incl. vit. A+D+E); calcium; vitamin C+zinc


Courage is fear that has said its prayers.  - Karle Wilson Baker

love and justice are not two. without inner change, there can be no outer change; without collective change, no change matters.  - Rev. angel Kyodo williams

Holding multiple truths. Knowing that everyone has their own accurate view of the way things are.  - text on homemade banner at Afiya house


I am not a medical professional; this is not medical advice. 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to How to cope with worry, stress, and anxiety - what's the difference?
  • 1 year later...
  • Mentor

A great video explaining this also. 
she also has other good videos. 
Therapy in a nutshell 





2000-2013 Paxil - 1 year fast taper

2013-2018 merry go round
zoloft, cymbalta, lamictal, Prozac.

 Nov. 2018 lexapro 15 mgs, Dec. 2019 to Mar. 2020 taper to 10mg. Jul 2020 to October 2020 taper to 8.5 ml.
Oct 2020 reinstated to 9 ml.
Apr 2021 to Jul  taper to 7ml. Oct 2021 to Jan 2022 taper to 5.9ml, Mar 5 2022 5.8 ml, Mar 12 5.7ml, Mar 20 5.6ml, Mar 27 5.5ml, April 23 5.4ml, April 30 5.3ml, May 7 5.2ml,  Jul 9 2022 5.4ml, 

Klonopin prn, Allegra 180 for 3 seasons, aspirin 81 mg, plavix , nitroglycerin 0.4 mg prn, 2k mg  turmeric Qunol, 4- Trader Joe’s omega 3 -2400 mg, Pepcid 20mg,  Prilosec 40 mg, Tylenol arthritis 4 tablets daily, 350mg calm magnesium citrate, melatonin 2.5- 5mg as needed to sleep. Saline spray as needed. 

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