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What is the difference between Stress and Anxiety?

In today’s fast-paced world, the pressures of complex interpersonal relationships and conforming to the unrealistic expectations set by the society can make the strongest of minds crumble at times. It’s not surprising that stress and anxiety have become as common as cough and cold in the current state of affairs.

The words stress and anxiety often mean the same to us. Although they share a similar kind of emotional and physical symptoms like tension, uneasiness, headaches, sleeplessness, and high blood pressure, they are actually triggered from different origins.

The cause of stress and anxiety are usually different. Stress occurs majorly due to external pressures on us that we have trouble coping with. We usually know the reason for our stress and once the stressful situation is over the symptoms of stress disappear too. For example, an impending appraisal at work can put a person through stress regarding the results associated with it. Once the appraisal is through, and the results turn out favorable, the associated stress vanishes.

On the other hand, anxiety is an individual’s specific reaction to stress. Anxiety normally originates internally. A nagging fear or apprehension in situations that are not particularly threatening is what anxiety is characterized by. While stress normally dissipates with the situation that caused it, anxiety can persist even after the concern has subsided. In this case, as stated in the example characterizing stress, if the individual about to be appraised has been stressed about his performance at work for a long time and doubts his capabilities he could be anxious all through the appraisal and even after the appraisal ends.

Sometimes anxiety can escalate severely into an anxiety disorder which happens to be one of the most common mental health issues these days. It’s not always easy to figure out anxiety. It is characterized by worries or feelings of dread about things that could appear threatening to us, as well as anxiety about the anxiety itself. Anxiety disorders are categorized in different ways. Generalized anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some of them.

Both, stress and anxiety are normal human reactions, and can be lingering problems if they keep reoccurring for an extended time, resulting in long-term impacts on our overall well-being and routine life.

Learning to identify and differentiating signs of stress and anxiety is crucial. Most commonly anxiety is triggered by stress. Early identification of symptoms of anxiety can prevent it from snowballing into an anxiety disorder.

Clinical counseling sessions can help identify and treat the issues that cause stress and anxiety to a person. Alternatively, there are also some specialized therapies that can address stress and anxiety in a creative manner. For example, Art Therapy is a process that facilitates an individual to connect with his feelings and emotions through self-expression using art as a medium. A lot of deep-rooted problems can be addressed and healed through this procedure.

A healthy mind is as vital as a healthy body. Do not ignore or neglect any signs of stress or anxiety that you or a loved one is undergoing for an extended period of time. Reach out for one of the many holistic healing facilities available around you.

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