Knowing the difference between stress and anxiety is important for figuring out a treatment that works. In today’s unfathomably busy world, you are one of the few extremely lucky ones if you never, ever feel stressed about anything. Stress is something that arises from a hectic, time-pushed or super important occasion, and whilst it can be uncomfortable in the moment, it is also something that dissipates with the changing circumstances of your everyday life. It is important to note, that whilst stress is something that is completely inevitable, natural and temporary, anxiety is a disorder than can be much more damaging and long-lasting, and does not necessarily have to stem from any one reason or occasion. It is vital that we as a society treat stress and anxiety as two separate ailments because that is exactly what they are. Here is the difference between stress and anxiety.
1. Over Responding
Your response is probably the difference between stress and anxiety that is most obvious. When you do something like spill your coffee, you will be angry in the immediate and this is known as a small life stress; having to go through the hassle of cleaning up and making another cup. With anxiety, however, the uncomfortable feeling arises even before the coffee has been spilled - it is the worry that you might spill it even if you don’t. This is a much more chronic and unending set of emotions to feel.
With normal everyday stress, there is always a sense that although you are stretched at this particular moment, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a series of solutions and actions that can lead you to a much happier state of mind. With anxiety, most of this rational thinking goes out of the window and you are left feeling overwhelmingly hopeless about ever feeling better.
3. Constant Worry
Stress tends to arrive and disappear at the most important and busy moments of your life, leaving to then let you get on with calmer periods, but anxiety will linger in your mind and turn you into a constant worrier, even creating scenarios in your head that have no actual basis in the real world.
4. Your Stress Worries You
Rather than embracing your stress signals as a sign that you need to buckle down and get on with whatever task or occasion is causing you to feel this way, anxiety will arise when you find yourself stuck in a loop, unable to be proactive about what is stressing you out, and instead being trapped in an unfortunate cycle of worrying too much about the stress you feel when instead you should be trying to do things to alleviate it. So to put it as plainly as possible, stress is the body’s natural response to heightened and difficult times, whereas anxiety is the condition that arises when you spend more time worrying about having the stress than actually trying to complete the tasks that would get rid of it.
5. Life is Altered
If you have had to change the way that you live your life to accommodate your emotional state, then you can be certain that that is anxiety rather than stress. Anxiety will creep up on you and start to dictate how you live, when you go outside, where you are comfortable going, who with, to do what etc. Stress is a normal response to something upsetting, but it generally doesn’t debilitate a person to such extremes. The most chronic form of this way of life is certainly classed as anxiety and is something that needs more professional attention. Stress can motivate you but anxiety will always try to prevent you from progressing.