What is the difference between stress & anxiety?

Stress and anxiety are both perfectly normal human reactions to threatening or worrying situations. It is something everyone experiences at times.  

There is a difference though between stress & anxiety

Stress is a reaction to a situation where we feel angry, anxious, frustrated or in pain – usually a clear response to something.

Stress can be caused by lots of different factors, such as work-related pressures, relationship problems, financial difficulties, and health issues, among others.  It is actually a normal physical and psychological and is a response to a perceived threat or challenge, whether it is real or imagined.  

In response to stress, the body’s nervous system activates the “fight or flight” response, which triggers a series of physiological changes aimed at helping the body respond to the perceived threat.  These changes include increased heart rate, rapid breathing, high blood pressure, stomach problems.  These changes also release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

Although stress is a normal part of life and it can be helpful in motivating us to take action,  chronic or excessive stress can be harmful to both our physical and mental health.  Long-term stress can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

Anxiety on the other hand is not simple.  It is the “what if’s”.  It can invade the corners of our life that were once solid and clear and turn them muddy and inexplicable.   

Anxiety is also a natural response to stress or danger.  It can manifest as feelings of apprehension, worry, fear, or unease.  Like stress, it is a normal human emotion that helps us to respond to potentially dangerous or stressful situations.  However, it can become intense and bring out chronic anxiety or fear in situations that are not actually dangerous.  And then this is when anxiety can begin to interfere with our daily life.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.  All these conditions can cause significant distress and can affect a person’s ability to function normally on a day by day basis.

Symptoms of anxiety can include both physical and psychological.  Physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, racing heartbeat, churning stomachs and shortness of breath.  Psychological symptoms such as excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating and avoiding certain situations.

How can you manage your stress & anxiety

Managing both stress & anxiety is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health.  Here are some effective ways to manage both stress & anxiety:

  1. Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce stress & anxiety by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals
  2. Relaxation & mindfulness techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga can help reduce stress by promoting relaxation and reducing tension.  It also helps us to be aware of living in the moment 
  3. Time management: Effective time management can help reduce stress by allowing you to prioritize tasks, manage your workload and avoid over-committing yourself
  4. Social support: Connecting with friends, family, and colleagues can help reduce stress by providing a sense of social support and fostering a sense of community
  5. Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing both stress & anxiety.  Sleep helps to recharge the body and mind, reducing tension and promoting relaxation
  6. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms: Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, and overeating can actually increase stress and anxiety in the long run
  7. Hobbies: Engaging in hobbies and leisure activities that you enjoy can help reduce stress by promoting relaxation and providing a sense of accomplishment
  8. Self-care: Engaging in self-care activities such as time for yourself, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that you enjoy

Solution focused hypnotherapy is also a very effective way to help with stress & anxiety by:

  • changing unhelpful thought patterns
  • helping you to relax
  • enabling you to move forward positively by focusing on the positives in your life
  • helping you to sleep better
  • and making sure you have tools & techniques that you need to manage stress & anxiety

Remember that everyone experiences stress & anxiety differently, so it’s important to find the mechanisms that work best for you.