Stress Vs Anxiety: Difference, Symptoms, and Management

2022-05-26 4 mins

Life is always stressful— sometimes you feel stressed about your performance in school, the workload at your job, traumatic events, or a significant change in life. Everyone, from younger to the elder, feels stress at some point in their life.

Stress is the physical as well as the mental response of the body to external factors that can be threatening or unexpected for a person. These external factors are called stressors that can be short-term occurrences or happen repeatedly for a long time.

The most common stressors of every age are loneliness, overly restrictive rules or regulations, illness, the death of a loved one, and poor time management.

Anxiety, simply put, is the reaction of your body to stress. It is a feeling of apprehension about the future that might make you feel restless and tense.

Anxiety if not treated can interfere with your daily life which can affect your physical and mental health.  This may increase the chance of getting some psychological disorders or experiencing some other health problems.

Difference between anxiety and stress:

Stress is a response of your body to some harmful situations such as losing a job or chronic illness while anxiety is internal. It is simply your body’s reaction to psychological stress.

Anxiety involves a persistent fear of the future that doesn’t quickly disappear and ultimately interferes with one’s lifestyle. Stress, however, quickly goes away once the problem is resolved.

Stress can either be positive or negative. It may either motivate you to achieve your goals or cause you to lose your sleep.

Similarities between stress and anxiety:

Both stress and anxiety negatively influence your mental and physical health. The common symptoms of stress and anxiety are:

  • Excessive worry and uneasiness
  • Muscle Tension
  • Hypertension
  • Disturbed sleep schedule
  • Body aches and pain

Managing stress is very important. If symptoms of stress impair your life and you can’t handle it, there is a chance that you might develop some anxiety disorder.

Coping strategies for anxiety and stress:

Complete information about stressors and coping techniques can help you reduce stress and improve your daily life. Not a single strategy can work for everyone so it may take repeated analysis to discover what works best for you. Both mild stress and mild anxiety can be managed with similar coping strategies.

Following are some strategies that can help you cope with stress and anxiety:

  • Keep a diary and write your worries.
  • Download a verified app that provides some relaxation exercises or tips for meditation
  • Exercise daily and follow a healthy diet plan
  • Get sufficient night's sleep
  • Avoid coffee and tea
  • Fight against your demotivating or self-obstructive thoughts.
  • Reach out to your loved ones who understand you and can help you deal with difficult situations.

When to seek professional help:

Coping with stress or anxiety may drain away all your energy, so it is suggested to immediately consult a mental health professional. Medication and psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling, are effective treatments for stress and anxiety.

Many mental health clinics offer online counseling that can help you deal with your mental condition. Through virtual counseling, psychotherapists track down all your daily activities and give some professional advice regarding changes you should make in life to become mentally fit.

One of the most effective and widely used types of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is a type of mental health treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change the disturbing thoughts that have a negative effect on their lives.

The bottom line:

Both stress and anxiety are two major mental health problems that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. If symptoms of these problems are left untreated, they can interfere with your lifestyle and make you physically ill. So one should try some coping strategies or talk to a psychotherapist for effective treatment.

All information in this article is written based on the publication of The National Institute of Mental Health, a U.S based federal agency that researches mental disorders. The experts of NIMH provide information on mental health problems and the latest mental health research.