Saturday, September 4, 2010


Only man clogs his happiness with care, destroying what is, with thoughts of what may be. John Dryden (1631-1700) British poet, dramatist and critic.

What is anxiety? How is it different from worry? Is there any difference? Are some people more prone to worrying? Is it outside our realm of control? Can I stop it? Would I really want to? Am I really stressing out about the nature of anxiety and worry?

There are few people in today’s world that don’t suffer from anxiety. How am I going to keep up with my job, where is my next meal coming from, or maybe even less importantly, what am I going to wear to my job? But there are others who are constantly plagued by it, who can’t seem to stop it. Is it an actual health condition?

For all practical purposes, anxiety and worry are basically the same. You will find the words often used interchangeably. Anxiety is a diagnosable condition of worrying, with several different varying classifications.

When we are anxious, we can be submerged into what Stuart Smalley calls, “stinkin’ thinkin’.” If only the solutions to my worries came as fast and expediently as do the actual fretful thoughts. I’m sure not only would I have solved the worries, but probably be the smartest person in the world. So what causes anxiety, a mix of factors seem to contribute.

Personality and life experiences are probably the first things we would point to as a cause. We would probably not be too surprised that a particularly high-strung person exhibits anxious traits. Nor would it be too much of a shocker that someone who has a bad life experience tend to worry and be anxious.

Heredity plays a huge role. If you have anxious parents, you also will tend to be anxious. But is that a result of conditioning, or genetics? Probably a bit of both.

The chemicals in the brain also play a large role. I know you are thinking like I was at first. Chemicals?! How can I possibly have any influence on that outside of drugs? Actually, we have more influence than we know; and it is very simple. Our thoughts are the biggest influence on our mood or mindset. But how can I control my thoughts?

The brain runs on automatic much of the time. Thoughts are like files that the brain will pull up. These thoughts will affect our mood.
You will have to manually control your thoughts. It is possible to build a “storage” of good thought files. It may take a while to train, but soon it will become habit.

But it does and will work.

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  1. Thanks for this post! It helps to know some of the sources of anxiety/worry. I think the hardest part about feeling anxious or worried is figuring out what might be causing it.

  2. thanks, kristen! i agree, half the battle is knowing what causes it. only then can we begin to know how to control it. ;)...b

  3. Great article, Brooke! Lots and lots of deep breathing...well, and Adam's yoga class. Then, I would say, what was I anxious about? :)

  4. thanks, christel! you are right, yoga definitely does help put things in perspective....b