Stress vs. Anxiety: Knowing the Difference
Both stress and anxiety are known to have similar symptoms, however they are very different in terms of treatment and diagnosis. Knowing and understanding the difference between the two is crucial if you are trying to improve your life and your health.
What is Stress?
Stress is basically the body’s normal response to any change, whether it be a positive or negative one. If we are experiencing stress, we are probably feeling like we don’t have enough control of a situation. When that happens, our “fight or flight response” kicks in, and our bodies are able to successfully react to a stressful situation. This is our natural stress response, meaning it’s a healthy one. However, if this natural and healthy response occurs over a prolonged period of time, there can certainly be physical and emotional consequences on our bodies. Common signs of stress can include tiredness, difficulty sleeping, headaches, change in appetite, muscle tension, and more.
There are countless ways to learn how to manage your stressors and live a happy and healthy life. Some of the recommendations for managing stress include maintaining a positive attitude, practicing healthy sleeping habits, exercising, being assertive, making time for play and creativity, practicing mindfulness, and practicing gratitude.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a result of prolonged stress, possibly combined with depression or panic attacks. It can develop over time due to genetics, personality, temperament, and a person’s environment. Anxiety is normal in dangerous or fear-inducing situations, however a generalized anxiety in one’s daily experience may be signs of a disorder. Common signs of generalized anxiety disorder are restlessness, feeling on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.
There are effective ways to treat anxiety including talk therapy, medication, and behavioral techniques. Ideally a combination of all three will help you “rewire your brain” and feel less anxious.
Having anxiety about a particular event or experience in our lives is normal. However, if it becomes a constant in your life and interferes with your every day; if you become irrational with fear and worry that causes you to avoid certain people, places or situations, the best remedy is seeking evaluation from a doctor or counselor to assess your needs and help you through what you’re experiencing.
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