If you had a break over the festive period, I hope you came back feeling relaxed. But now that you’ve been back at work for a few weeks, you’re probably already starting to feel stressed (=worried and nervous). Of course you are – we’re all stressed (or stressed out), and we never tire of talking about it! So let’s look at some other ways to express it.
If you are tense, anxious or on edge, you are nervous and not able to relax: I felt so tense, waiting for the interview to start./You seem a little on edge this morning. Both tense and anxious are also used to describe situations that cause feelings of worry or nervousness, such as sports games: There were some tense/anxious moments in the second half of the game.
Are you stressed about something you are going to do? If so, you might describe yourself as apprehensive: I’m a bit apprehensive about tomorrow’s meeting. If you are so apprehensive that you have an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach, you might say you have butterflies (in your stomach): I had terrible butterflies before I gave that talk in Venice. You might also talk about the pit of your stomach to express this feeling: I’ve had a knot in the pit of my stomach all morning, thinking about the meeting. Another idiom that describes a feeling of worry about something that is going to happen is on tenterhooks, though this phrase has the additional sense of waiting anxiously for something: We’re on tenterhooks, waiting to see whether we’ve won the award.
Some words describe a stressed state that is caused by having too much to do. Someone who seems a little anxious or confused because they are dealing with too many things at once might be described as harassed or flustered: harassed looking mothers with young children/I didn’t like to ask Jo for help as she seemed a bit flustered.
Other words express extreme stress and worry. Someone who is frantic is almost out of control with worry: Where have you been? We’ve been frantic with worry! Fraught is similar, describing someone who is extremely worried. It is also used to describe situations that cause extreme stress and worry: The whole meeting was fraught and I was glad when it was over. Someone who is tearing their hair out over a problem is worrying a lot: Leigh has been tearing her hair out over the last chapter of her novel.
If you are bothered, you are worried about a particular thing: I think Dan’s a bit bothered about his work situation./She didn’t seem at all bothered that he was late.
The idioms have something on your mind and prey on your mind also mean this: I’m sorry I’ve been a bit grumpy – I have a lot on my mind at the moment./I had an argument with Julia last week and it’s been preying on my mind. The adjectives preoccupied and distracted also mean ‘worried about a particular thing’ but they also suggest that the person who worrying about one matter is unable to direct their attention to other matters: I don’t know if Sally understood what I meant. She seemed a little preoccupied.
That’s all for now, so whatever you’re doing, try to take it easy!