Psychological Self-Help

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The complexity, confusion, and commonness of anxiety is reflected
in the many words in the English language for anticipated troubles:
tension, feeling on edge, up-tight, hassled, nervous, jittery, jumpy,
wound up, scared, terrified, insecure, pressured, alarmed, anxious,
worried, dreading what might happen, uncertain, vulnerable,
apprehensive, edgy, troubled, and many more. Anxiety is one of the
most common symptoms seen in a psychologist's or psychiatrist's
The broadest definitions of stress include the entire complex
sequence of events: (1) the event that requires some change (external
or mental; real or imaginary), (2) internal processes (perception,
interpretation of the event, learning, adaptation, or coping
mechanisms), (3) emotional reactions (our feelings) and (4) other
behavioral-bodily reactions (nervousness, sweating, stumbling over
words, high blood pressure, and all the medical conditions mentioned
below). In a more limited usage, stress is the upsetting situation and
strain is the mental and physical reactions. However, most of us use
the term stress loosely for both the threatening situation and the
anxious reaction. 
Stress may refer to meeting any "demand" made of us, even good,
reasonable, enjoyable ones. Thus, the experienced jogger meets the
demands of running five miles and thoroughly enjoys it. A person
given a promotion is delighted even though it means more
responsibility and work. Doing well in school involves the stress of
learning what you need to know to get high grades on tests. No one
could work and raise a family without stress. How could anyone strive
for a high, competitive goal or make sacrifices in order to live
according to his/her values without experiencing stress? And, surely,
stress is part of self-discovery, growth, and using all of one's potential,
because these efforts open us up to failure when we find our
limitations. Even the most wonderful events of life--loves, friendships,
family, sex, travels, holidays--add stress because these situations
require us to cope and adapt. So, some writers speak of "good" stress
and "bad" stress. We all have both. 
In everyday speech, however, we usually find other words, rather
than anxiety or fear, for the hard work, uncertainty, and tension
associated with doing a good job at work, in school, or in our
relationships. We may say, "it's a hard job but he/she is handling it,"
rather than "his/her job is making him/her highly anxious." When we
use the phrase "he is anxious" or "insecure" or "she is nervous" or
"jumpy," we usually mean things aren't going well, the person is close
to loosing control or threatened with failure. Therefore, words which
imply the amount of anxiety and stress being experienced become a
commonly accepted index--a barometer--of how well we are coping.
Indeed, very high anxiety is an aspect of most psychological
breakdowns or disorders. So, the stress-related words mentioned
above usually communicate to others that we are having serious
difficulty handling some situation. 
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