Ep 64 The Difference Between Worry, Stress, Anxiety, and Overwhelm and How To Regulate Them

Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
Ep 64 The Difference Between Worry, Stress, Anxiety, and Overwhelm and How To Regulate Them

Do you know that the amount of stress you feel and the intensity of the emotions you feel along with it are based on your beliefs about your ability to handle the situation? The amount of stress you feel comes from your thoughts rather than the situation.  That means stress can be reduced by gaining the skills you need to handle the situation and being intentional with how you think about it.  Otherwise, you get stuck worrying, not learning the skills you need and you increase your stress instead of regulating it.  When you understand the difference between worry, stress, anxiety, and overwhelm and understand where they happen in your body and how they affect you, you are no longer at the effect of them.  Understanding these nuances creates emotional intelligence.  This helps you relieve stress, diffuse conflict, and overcome challenges when you’re living with your child’s addiction.


Episodes to Listen to next:

EP 16 The Self Coaching Model

EP 10 How To Create Authority Over Your Anxiety


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Resources From Heather Ross Coaching

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This transcript has not been formatted or edited.


I’m Heather after many wasted years, trying outdated, approaches to my daughter’s addiction, that felt wrong to me harmed.

Our relationship and didn’t help my daughter.

I finally found an effective evidence-based approach.


That repair my relationship with her helped me.

Create my own peace of mind and made me an ally in my daughter’s recovery.

I teach you a loving and compassionate approach to help you encourage change.

Create connection addiction impacts the entire family system.


Family recovery is the answer.

Hey, everybody feels like a long time since I’ve talked to you, it’s been a couple of weeks maybe even close to a month.

I just got back from vacation.


I went to knowing New Hampshire, the White Mountains of Franconia, New Hampshire with my niece and some friends and it was such an incredible trip.

I haven’t been up north to see the leaves and the fall and it was peak season up there.


I haven’t been up there in, probably like ten years.

So I was really Excited to get to spend a whole week outside and then get to go to my niece’s for a few days and see her kids and also just to get away and I was excited to get a little bit of cold weather and I packed for it to be absolutely freezing there because that’s what the forecast said.


And then when we got there, of course, it was warmer and I didn’t have the right clothes for that.

So I had to borrow some stuff.

But now here I’ve been sitting outside all day.

It’s only 72 degrees which I say only 72 degrees.

I think that’s great.


It feels amazing.

Like, I’ve Been Loved sitting outside today, honey.

And I have been out there working and she’s been laying in the Sun.

Also, of course, she’s dead sat there and stared at me for a while until I gave her a blanket because she wanted to be on my lap, but I had my computer sitting on my lap while I was typing.


So I had to go get her a blanket and whoever says that dogs can’t talk, I don’t think they’ve spent much time with dogs because my dogs are Very good at telling me what they want.

So, today’s episode was inspired by a New York Times article that I read.


And I use the book Atlas of the Heart, by brene, Brown to help me.

Explain it in more detail than was what in the Artic, what was in the article?

So really the article just gave me the idea about the difference between stress, I worry anxiety and overwhelm and all my podcasts are inspired by something, but there wasn’t much time between me seeing the article and then working on this podcast.


So I was able to tell you exactly where the information came from this time.

And if you have not read brene, Brown’s book, Atlas of the heart, I highly recommend it because it’s just so detailed when it comes to feelings and Sending them and what they mean.


And it’s so important to have a really robust vocabulary about your feelings and really even understanding the difference between feelings and thoughts and Sensations in your body.


Like having that big emotional vocabulary, makes it easier for you to solve for and support those emotions.

It also, So, you know, as I Was preparing for this episode, it reminded me of episode number 55 where I interviewed dr.


Joan Rosenberg about her book, 90 seconds to a life, you love.

I think that episodes really powerful.

I’m going to put it in the show notes for you to listen to click on and listen to, because I think it goes really well with this episode, but it was about understanding and feeling your emotions.


We talked about how one of the reasons anxiety is so Thing is because it’s too vague so you can’t solve for something so vague and then you feel really powerless over it.

And what I loved about the New York Times article is the way it differentiates between worry, Stress and Anxiety and then I added in overwhelm with my research, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a blog post or a podcast or anything that really Explains the difference.


Between worry, stress, anxiety and overwhelm and where they happen, whether that’s in your mind or your body.

And it’s so important to understand that.

So, you can intellectualize what’s happening and understand it, like what worry stress anxiety and overwhelm or trying to signal to you, because they’re trying to tell you something, trying to tell you of your needs.


Our body is always He’s trying to tell us what we need, and I think we’re a really good.

Of course, understanding Sensations, but not feelings.

So when we’re thirsty, we know.

We need water or something else to drink when we’re hungry.


We know we need food when we’re tired.

We know, we need sleep.

We know how to answer those signals from our body.

We know those Sensations really well, but when it comes to thoughts feelings, Logical responses.


We tend to ignore them or avoid them because we were never really taught to understand them or find solutions for them.

In some cases, I’d say that.

We’re even taught to ignore them because especially with emotions, right?


They’re messy.

They make people feel uncomfortable.

You get the constant.

Oh, it don’t cry.

It’s okay, right.

Ignore your emotions.

That’s basically what people They’re saying and we can let through life without understanding these processes until a major event, like a child’s addiction happens.


And then suddenly understanding these signals that our body is sending to us becomes imperative if you want relief.

And if you want to be able to go through that process intact and able to support your child.


So I’m going to tell you the main difference is between stress, worry, anxiety, and overwhelm.

So you can understand what’s happening when you experience them.

And then you can support yourself through those experiences.


And you can also model that regulation in those areas for your child and then be able to support them through their experiences.

As well.

And what I really want you to understand what’s really important here is that your perspective impacts worry Stress and Anxiety.


And I want you to understand why it’s crucial to be really intentional with your thoughts about your life because as I’m going to share a perspective, has a huge impact.

On how you experience.


Worry stress, anxiety, and overwhelmed.

So, let’s start with worry.

Worry happens in your mind and not in your body.

So worried is not a feeling, it’s happening.

In your thoughts, it’s happening in your brain.


It is not the feeling that you experience in your body.

Stress is a biological response to external events.

It happens in your body is a result of your thoughts.


So we feel stressed not as an emotion but is an overall condition in our body.

These chemicals that are being released to help us get through the stressful event.

We feel stress.

And we listen to this is key.


We feel stressed when we think the demand of the external event exceeds our ability to cope with it successfully, right?

So it totally makes sense why we feel super stressed about our kids addiction until we think we have the ability to cope with it.


So worried thoughts cause stress worries happening in your brain, then you feel stress about it in your body releases.

All these chemicals that get you prepared to handle this stressful situation, then your thoughts about your ability, to handle the stress, create the feelings that go with the stress.


So, depending on what you think it’s going to To create easier or more challenging feelings.

So, one of those feelings that can be created by worry and stress is anxiety.


Now, that is a feeling and it happens as a result of a lot of worry and stress.

So outside of generalized anxiety disorder, which is beyond the scope of this podcast episode.


Side of that anxiety.

Comes from your thoughts and anxiety.

Either leads to more worrying, thoughts or avoidance.

And since our mind and body are in constant contact, checking in with each other, to see if everything is okay or not.


It’s easy to see how this can quickly escalate into the a constant state of being.

And it looks like this.

So there’s a circumstance in your life and that circumstance, is that your child’s misusing substances and then you have worried thoughts about that circumstance.


And then you feel stressed because of the worried thoughts in since you know that you don’t have the skills that you need to help your child.

Then you have more worrying thoughts and they lead to feelings like anxiety.


Because those whirring thoughts are about all the things that can possibly go wrong in the future.

So, now, we have thoughts, feelings, and biological responses happening to this outside circumstance.


And then your body checks in, with your mind and says, how we doing and then find right?

I sound like, Joey from Friends when I said that and then the body checks in with the mind and says, It’s bad.

Really, really bad.


We cannot handle this.

We don’t know what to do, nothing.

And no one is safe.

We’re all in grave danger, nobody can help us.

Nothing can help us.


Now that produces more worried thoughts and stress in your body and more anxiety.

And if you don’t intervene in this process, the next thing, you know, overwhelm joins the party overwhelm comes from an extreme level of stress to the point that you can’t even function.


So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, then you’re just like paralyzed with fear.

This overwhelm reinforces the belief that you can’t handle the situation that’s causing the whirring, thoughts and stress.


So it’s like a train picking up speed, going faster and faster.

And the next thing, you know, it’s speeding out of control and unless you’re able to intervene and engage your prefrontal cortex, which is the thinking and feeling Part of your brain and get out of the survival autopilot, part of your brain, your child’s addiction starts to take over your life to, and then you’re no longer in a place to help or support them.


So, your emotions are high and your brain is giving it even more attention, because attention, because that’s what we’re hardwired to do for survival.

Our brains are meant to I pay more attention to really emotional events because they must be really important.


This can easily become our new state of being.

If you don’t know how to interrupt the cycle and override it, this is because when we’re overwhelmed, we struggle to process information accurately which then can add confusion to the mix as well.


So now we’ve added overwhelm and confusion, See how this just gets completely debilitating fast.

So, I hope that on one hand, you find this helpful.

On the other hand, you also find it validating if you’ve experienced this, that this is just how it works.


So, if we aren’t processing our feelings, then we can’t make good decisions.

We have to focus on our feelings and enough to get clarity, understand them, and untangle, the mess that we’ve created with.


Our thoughts, right?

So if we don’t do this, it leads to breakdowns in relationships, right?

You can’t show up intentionally and the way you want to, when you’re highly emotional, it has an effect on your health.

You don’t enjoy things that you use to enjoy and then even maybe you’re even struggling to focus and show up to work.


And if this goes on long enough it actually reprograms your brain and becomes your go.

To state of being, instead of being triggered situation by situation.

You start to interpret everything is disastrous.


That’s why awareness and understanding of this process is so important.

That’s why when I saw this article, I was like I have to explain this in depth so that listeners can understand what’s happening to them and how to stop it because if you don’t understand what’s happening, Inning in your mind and body and you believe it and you don’t stop to question it.


Then it seems like your current response is appropriate in the only possible response it, but that’s not true.

I’ve seen a huge difference in clients in literally one week.

Even though nothing has changed in their circumstance.


Their child is still doing all the same things still using Stan says, but my client is now using their tools to regulate they’re looking at their thoughts and feelings and what it’s creating their come.


They’re open to the thinking and reasoning part of their brain and so they’re able to feel more in control of the situation, they’re able to see it differently.

They have a different perspective.


They’re being very intentional with their thoughts, so they’re having a more peaceful experience.

So nothing outside of them has changed.

They have just changed and regulated on the inside and completely change their experience of the same circumstance.


And that’s why my programs called the Peace of Mind program because the skills you need to create your own piece of mind.

No matter what your child is doing.

Are the foundation of the program.

Like we need to be able to create our own Peace of Mind.


Anytime wherever focused on somebody else to do it for us, it’s going to be really painful and it’s going to be a feel very powerless and that’s how that odd of control speeding train happens.

But once you start questioning your thoughts and being really intentional new options and solutions open up otherwise.


Eyes, your only options are more worry, stress, anxiety overwhelm, and then confusion or avoidance, but both keep you in a vicious cycle.


And avoidance looks like scrolling through Facebook.

Drinking alcohol, overeating binging on Netflix.

Shopping, buying things that you don’t need sleeping more than normal.


Anything that you’re trying to do to change how you feel that has a net, negative consequence and doesn’t actually really fix anything.

So worried and avoidance, both make things worse, and come with a lot of negative consequences.


In something that I hear parents say a lot that I want to caution you about is When they say, I can’t do this anymore or I can’t handle this anymore, and sometimes parents say it for years.

They keep saying, I can’t do this and then that causes more stress.


Because remember that, the emotions that come from stress are based on beliefs about our ability to handle the situation.

So if you never stop and say, what can I not do, any more like be really specific about it?


What exactly is it that you can’t do anymore?

Don’t let it be General because if it’s just generally, I can’t do this and I’m are quoting around the word.

This we don’t know what this is, It’s just referring to this huge situation.


Then you’re not going to be able to solve for that.

So if you never stop, And look into what you’re saying and you go on handling it for years all the while saying that you can’t handle it and causing yourself more worry, stress anxiety, overwhelming confusion.


Then you’re just making the situation worse for yourself.

The answer to that is asking yourself, really high-quality questions?

Not just, Just to the, I can’t do this anymore, but to that whole cycle, I just described to you.


The answer to that is asking yourself really high-quality questions and creating intentional thoughts that lead to feelings like, hope acceptance confidence and motivation in those feelings.


They’ll fuel problem, solving actions instead of overwhelming and confusing, thoughts and feelings.

So, you need to fact, check your brain, your thoughts are just thoughts, they aren’t always true.


That’s why it’s crucial to question.

Those thoughts and be really intentional with them.

Another part of this is life is full of uncertainty, but when it comes to your child substance, use you pay really close attention and maybe even get hyper focused on that uncertainty around it.


Because you’re worrying about all the things that can go wrong.

You’ve also got to build up your uncertainty tolerance muscle.

And one way that I do that for myself, is I think about all the everyday uncertainties that I choose to ignore like car accidents as a big one people die and sustained life-threatening injuries and car accidents every day.


But I don’t think about the uncertainty of what will happen.

Every time I get into my car, if I did, I probably wouldn’t even drive anywhere.


I’ll just be like panicked about what all the things that could go wrong.

So just reminding myself about that.


Reminding myself, that anything can go wrong at any time, actually helps me build up my tolerance to uncertainty, so you can do the same thing.

Think about what uncertainties you face every day that you don’t?


That slow you down and you can use them to help you build your uncertainty tolerance muscle as well.

And another thing is I mentioned earlier about how a major component of stress is your thoughts about if you can handle the situation or not.


So, it’s really important for you to educate yourself.

And this case, I’ve been using a dictionary Ian or substance use as an example through this whole episode.

So, it’s really important to be confident in your skills, get more skills, whatever it is, you feel that you’re missing, so that you can have more thoughts about your ability that you can handle the situation, right?


That you have the skills that you need.

So if you feel like you don’t have the skills to handle the situation, Then the solution for that is to be really intentional about getting the skills that you feel like you need.

So here’s a really quick recap of everything that I just shared with you perspective or the quality of your thoughts.


Impacts worry, Stress and Anxiety can lead to overwhelm and confusion as well and that’s why I always say.

It’s in crucial All to be intentional with your thoughts, about your life, worry happens in your mind and not in your body, worry is thoughts happening in your brain, not the feelings, you experience in your body.


Stress is a biological response to external revengeance and it happens in your body as a result of your thoughts.

And again, we feel more stressed.

When we think the demand of the External event like our child’s addiction exceeds, our ability to cope with it successfully.


So worried thoughts cause stress than our thoughts, about our ability to handle it or not.

Create the feelings that go with the stress anxiety is one of the feelings that can happen as a result of a lot of worry, and stress learning how to use the self coaching model that, I teach to my clients will help you manage this as well.


Well, which if you’ve worked with me, you recognize a lot of what I was just talking about, but I also have an episode about the self coaching model is Episode number. 16, I’m going to put a link to that episode in the show notes and probably the one from dr.


Joan Rosenberg that I talked about in the beginning of this episode and also, I have an episode that’s focused strictly on solving for anxiety.

That’s really Full as well and it’s some of the earlier episodes.


So I’ll put links to those in the show notes.

And if you want one-on-one help with this and you want support learning more about craft creating connection with your child building, those skills that I was talking about having the confidence in yourself that you have the ability to support your child through their substance use, or maybe you need help with your feelings or perspective about the situation.


And I will put a link in the show notes to sign up for a call with me because I have openings in my schedule right now I can start working with some new people.

I do a introductory call, that’s 45 minutes.


It’s on Zoom, it’s a seventeen dollar call and it’s just a judgment-free Zone and a chance for us to get to talk about what you are going through.

And how I can help you with that.


So that’s all for this episode.

I hope that you are having as wonderful a day as I am today and I will talk to you soon.

Thank you for listening to this episode.

If you want to learn more about my work, go to Heather.


Ross coaching.com if you want to help other parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction, you can do it two different ways.

First, you can share the podcast with them directly.

Directly or you can share it on your social media second, you can leave a review, talk to you next week.