Our busy lifestyles and schedules can leave most of us feeling stressed. Every emotional experience can make us feel anxious. What is the difference between stress and having anxiety? While both are emotional feelings as a reaction to something uncertain or negative, they are different.
Stress can be a result of any frustrating situation, and it can make you feel nervous and angry. Extreme levels of stress trigger anxiety. Anxiety is an outcome of the stress, and it triggers feelings of fear and adds to the distress. It is important to identify what you are dealing with – stress or anxiety.
Here are a few differences between the two that will help you figure it out.
1. Stress Can Physically Tire You
When you have stress, you start experiencing physical strain like headaches, drop in stamina, body aches, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, diarrhea, etc. However, anxiety will leave you feeling nervous, restless, and tensed. Gradually, stress, along with anxiety, drains you of energy, and you start feeling weak.
2. Anxiety Comes From Fear
If you aren’t too stressed about something, it will eventually pass. But when you start worrying too much about something, you feel exhausted and overwhelmed with the stress. The ball of stress turns into fear and develops into anxiety. Therefore, anxiety is a result of extreme stress. People with anxiety often get panic attacks, hyperventilate, or pass out from too much worry or uneasiness. Due to the fear, there is a lack of focus on anything apart from the pressure.
3. You Can Deal With Stress
It’s true that stress can be dealt with if you have a peaceful approach. There are practical ways to reduce the stress. For example, if you have a difficult test in a few days, and it is stressing you out, the solution to tackle the stress is by preparing yourself well. However, to deal with anxiety, you might require external help. You may need medication, counseling, or professional support to manage anxiety since it can make you feel helpless.
4. Anxiety Leaves You Clueless
When you are anxious, you can’t focus on anything. You become less aware of the cause of the worry, and start worrying more instead. With stress, you are still mindful of what is bothering you. Hence, you try to find a solution to deal with it. But with anxiety, you can never stop being anxious about that particular situation.
5. Stress Comes From Outside
Anxiety is internal while stress is often triggered by an external source. It could be a pending deadline at work, peers pressurizing you to do something you object to, or societal pressures. Stress comes from time to time, but anxiety is always within you, and it can be provoked with too much stress.
6. Stress Leaves, Anxiety Stays
Stress leaves when the problem is solved, but anxiety is always around. Though it starts with stress, once you get anxious about an issue, it is now difficult to stop feeling anxious.
Experts say that anxiety is stress that is still around after the stressor has left. Coping with anxiety is no cake-walk. Unlike stress, finding a solution for anxiety is difficult, and people always avoid dealing with it, which only makes it worse.
7. Anxiety Makes Less Sense
In other words, those with anxiety sometimes feel anxious even in situations that are not a threat. Since you lose track of what made you anxious, it leads to a vicious circle of worry. But in the case of stress, there is a proper trigger that can evoke it. It is not just blind worry but a peace-threatening situation that keeps you worried. Anxiety could be a gut feeling without knowing the threatening situation.
It’s common to mix up stress and anxiety since they are similar. But once you are able to determine if you are facing stress or anxiety, you will be able to tackle it better with appropriate treatment. If your day to day life is associated with pressure and frustrating tasks, it is better to find ways to calm yourself and avoid stress. When you get a hold of dealing with stress, you can keep anxiety at bay.