Stress and anxiety are two different issues that we all face at some stage in our lives. Initially, it can be difficult to tell the difference between stress and anxiety. Yet stress and anxiety are very different from each other. But both can lead to a variety of health issues, such as:
- Loss of concentration
- Excessive anxiety
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle pain
Stress is a short-term change in the body that causes any danger caused by a situation. And anxiety is a major mental health condition that can be caused by excessive stress. So if you’re feeling both of them and you’re not able to identify the difference between stress and anxiety, we will help you out with the differences between stress and anxiety.
What’s the stress?
Stress is an entirely normal reaction of the body to some change, demand, or danger. The response may have a physical, emotional, or mental aspect. Everyone has a certain level of stress in their life. Each person can respond differently to stressors, some responding more intensely or more frequently than others.
Potential stressors, which can be one-time or continuous, include:
- The burden of responsibilities at home, at work, or school
- Economic difficulties
- To be busy
- Major or unexpected change, such as divorce, death, or work loss;
- A painful incident, such as abuse or a car accident;
Stress may be both good and bad. Good stress motivates you to do tasks, do them well, and focus on the activities. Overwhelming and chronic stress is not great for physical or mental health. When stress continues, it can induce depression, physical pain, difficulties sleeping, digestive problems, loneliness, changes in food and weight, and even heart disease.
Anxiety is normal, too. It’s a feeling of fear, concern, or nervousness. You may be anxious about a major test, for instance, that you’re not going to do well. Stress and anxiety also go together with stressful activities or experiences that cause feelings of anxiety.
When anxiety becomes serious, it is out of control and has a significant negative effect on your life. Excessive anxiety can cause problems similar to chronic stress: emotional distress and physical symptoms. High anxiety or an anxiety disorder can prevent you from doing things, such as meeting friends, going to work, or trying something different.
Am I Experiencing Stress or Anxiety?
Chances are you’re probably experiencing a little bit of both of them, but one may be more overwhelming. Here are some signs that can help you with the difference between stress and anxiety:
- Stress is usually external. However, you may cause stress, negative self-talk, a depressive outlook, or a sense of perfection. Too many responsibilities or a high-level job project are causing a stress response. On the other hand, anxiety is much more internal. It’s how you’re reacting to stressors. If you remove those stressors and then feel depressed and distressed, you’re likely to be dealing with anxiety.
- Anxiety is an unwanted reaction to a situation. Many stressful situations can be for anyone, like dealing with arrangements for a loved one’s death. Anxiety is something like an outsize reaction. Suppose the anxiety and distress you feel in a given situation are abnormal, extreme, or go way above other individuals’ reactions.
In that case, it could be anxiety rather than stress.
- Anxiety can make you unable to function. Many stressful situations are hard to overcome but ultimately manageable. Anxiety disorders can leave you totally unable to manage everyday tasks. If you feel so upset that you cannot work or have a panic attack, an anxiety condition may be the underlying problem.
- Anxiety causes feelings of fear of things that have not happened or that do not exist. Stress is the reaction to something going on or the pressure you experience. Anxiety should be completely internal, not a response to anything that exists. E.g., with an anxiety disorder, you can have a general sense of apprehension, panic, and concern, even though there is nothing that might cause you to worry about.
- Specific symptoms may indicate an anxiety disorder. If you have some specific signs, they can indicate that you have an anxiety disorder or that the concern is beyond simple stress. Panic attacks, for example, are characteristic of panic disorder, a form of anxiety disorder. High levels of stress and anxiety in social situations may signify a social anxiety disorder.
Stress, Anxiety, Whatever: Do I Need Professional Help?
While stress and anxiety are normal feelings and reactions, they may become exaggerated. If stress or worry overwhelms you, takes over your life, and stops you from working, you can benefit from professional counseling and treatment. Here are a few more clear signs that anxiety or stress is out of control in your life:
- Stress or anxiety interferes with important aspects of your life, including relationships, jobs, school, and duties.
- The reactions and emotions you feel are overwhelming, causing you significant distress or difficult or impossible to manage and lessen.
- You may have physical health issues that could be related to stress and anxiety.
- Other mental health problems arise, either caused or simply happening at the same time as stress or worry. These may include depression, drug abuse, or anything else that worries you.
- You have experienced something painful, either in the past or in the past or recently.
- The stress or anxiety leads to feelings of self-harm, hopelessness, or suicide.
Treatment and management
People can treat or control stress and anxiety in a variety of ways, including:
1. Relaxation strategy
Relaxation strategies can help people deal with stress and anxiety.
They shall include:
- Breathing exercise
- Concentrate on a soothing phrase, such as ‘peace’ or ‘calm.’
- Visualizing a peaceful scene, such as a beach or a meadow
- The practice of yoga
- The practice of ta chi
- Slowly count to 10
Physical exercise can help people combat difficult conditions. This could be a quick walk, a cycle, or a run. Fluid motions in activities such as yoga and qi gong will also make people feel calm.
3. Talking about this
Talking about their problems, whether they are face-to-face, on the phone, or on the Internet, will help people to relieve their stress. People might prefer to speak to a friend, girlfriend, family member, or co-worker if they trust someone.
The Bottom Line
Stress and anxiety are entirely normal human reactions to threatening or worrying situations. They are part of the fight or flight response that keeps us safe by preparing the body to deal with the threat.
Stress is the body’s response to a threat, while anxiety is the body’s response to stress.
People may control their stress and anxiety with calming strategies, such as breathing exercises, physical activity, and talking about their problems.
Sometimes, stress and anxiety can overwhelm people. When that occurs, it may lead to chronic stress or anxiety disorder. Anyone who feels that stress or anxiety interferes with their daily lives may need to talk to a doctor.