Anxious vs Nervous: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to describing our emotional state, many of us tend to use words like ‘anxious’ and ‘nervous’ interchangeably. But while they may seem similar, they actually have very different meanings. Understanding the difference between anxious and nervous can help us to better identify and manage our emotions.

What Does it Mean to be Anxious?

Anxiety is an emotion that is characterized by feelings of fear, uneasiness, and worry. It is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. For example, it can help us to stay alert and focused when facing a difficult task.

However, when anxiety becomes so intense and persistent that it interferes with our daily activities, it can be classified as an anxiety disorder. Common symptoms of an anxiety disorder include excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and irritability.

What Does it Mean to be Nervous?

Nervousness is an emotion that is characterized by feelings of apprehension, tension, and unease. It is usually caused by an upcoming event or situation that we perceive as threatening or uncertain.

Unlike anxiety, which is a long-term emotional state, nervousness is usually short-lived and fades once the situation is resolved or the event has passed. It can also be beneficial in some cases, as it can help us to stay alert and focused in a challenging situation.

The Difference Between Anxious and Nervous

The main difference between anxious and nervous is the duration of the emotion. Anxiousness is a long-term emotional state that can interfere with daily activities, while nervousness is a short-term emotion that usually fades once the situation is resolved.

Another key difference is the cause of the emotion. Anxiety is caused by stressful or uncertain situations, while nervousness is caused by an upcoming event or situation that we perceive as threatening or uncertain.

Managing Anxious and Nervous Feelings

Both anxious and nervous feelings can be managed with the help of relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness can help to reduce anxiety and nervousness. Regular exercise and getting enough sleep can also help to reduce anxiety and nervousness.

It is also important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional if the feelings become too intense or interfere with daily activities. They can provide advice and support to help manage the feelings.

Conclusion

Anxious and nervous are two emotions that are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. Anxiousness is a long-term emotional state that can interfere with daily activities, while nervousness is a short-term emotion that usually fades once the situation is resolved.

Both anxious and nervous feelings can be managed with the help of relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes. If the feelings become too intense or interfere with daily activities, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional for advice and support.

FAQs

What is the difference between anxious and nervous?

Anxious and nervous are both terms used to describe a feeling of unease or worry. Anxious is a more intense feeling than nervous, and can be associated with a sense of dread or anticipation of something bad happening.

What are some common causes of feeling anxious or nervous?

Common causes of feeling anxious or nervous include fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of change, stress, and anticipation of a future event.

How can I manage my anxious or nervous feelings?

Managing anxious or nervous feelings can be done through relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness, and journaling. It is also important to practice self-care and make sure to get enough rest, exercise, and healthy meals. Additionally, talking to a trusted friend or loved one can help to alleviate anxious or nervous feelings.


References

Fresco, D. M., Coles, M. E., Heimberg, R. G., Liebowitz, M. R., & Hami, S. (2001). The factor structure of social phobia: Comparison of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale and the Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory in a clinical sample. Psychological Assessment, 13(3), 471-481.

Kroenke, K., Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. W. (2001). The PHQ-9: Validity of a brief depression severity measure. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 16(9), 606-613.

Barlow, D. H. (2002). Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.