Do you know the Difference Between Stress And Anxiety?
If you use the phrases, “I’m under so much stress” and “I have so much anxiety” interchangeably, you may not be distinguishing between stress and anxiety. The fact is, there IS a difference. Let’s take a look.
This is a response to an identifiable situation where there is pressure and you feel upset, nervous or overly worried. Most of us experience stress on a daily basis. Some examples of stress are getting stuck in traffic, forgetting to stop at the store for milk, being late for work, and so forth. You feel this stress for a period of time and then it goes away. If the feelings you’re having seem to fall into the “this too shall pass” category, then you’re probably under a bit of stress. Again, stress is something that has a cause and goes away after some period of time – perhaps in a minute, a few hours, or a day or week. Stress and stressors should go away in a short time. If Stress lingers, it is no longer stress but anxiety and leads to medical illnesses and mental illnesses. Lets look at the affects of stress leading to anxiety below.
This is a response to a perceived danger to yourself or to being under so much stress that you feel like you are in danger of losing control or unable to cope . Anxiety takes place when you worry (become anxious) about what might happen. For example, if you worry about the traffic, or stopping at the store, or that you might not get to work on time, that’s anxiety. This is about the perception, not the event itself.
Actual anxiety is not something that comes and goes; it is something that persists for months or even years. When you are fearful or apprehensive – and that feeling persists – you may be suffering from anxiety. The condition of anxiety is a true mental health issue because when stress passes over into anxiety it manifests itself in Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety and more.
WHAT CAN YOU DO:
Only a professional can evaluate you and decide if you have everyday worries or a confirmed diagnosis of anxiety. However, there are some things you can do to help get a handle on what you are feeling before you call a health care professional.
First, managing your reaction to stressful events is your best coping mechanism. In the moment you are experiencing either stress or anxiety, you need to stop and take a deep breath to clear your head and relax. Then, ask yourself how the event impacts you and your life. Honestly. Not perceived, but truthfully. If you are stuck in traffic, and you forget the milk, and you are late for work, what will actually happen to you. Ask yourself what’s the worse that could happen, and you are typically going to realize that you are going to be okay.
Next, you’ll want to take a moment and focus just on the feelings you’re having. Really listen to your inner monologue and hear what your mind and body are telling you. As you listen to your body, try to work through the situation and calm yourself so it doesn’t feel like you’re having a crisis.
Finally, pay attention to what happened to bring on the stress or anxiety. For example, if you truly did get stuck in a traffic jam, as soon as traffic begins flowing again, ask yourself if the feelings subside or did they become worse? If they subside, that’s probably just a brief moment of stress. If they continue or become worse, such as a panic attack, you may be experiencing true anxiety. Identifying the source of your stress or anxiety is definitely helpful in working through the feelings as well as preventing a recurrence.
With that said, if you experience severe physical symptoms (shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating, pain in the chest or neck, chocking, etc.) you need to seek medical help. Don’t assume you are having a panic attack. See your doctor and let him/her be the judge. We will be looking more at anxiety and how to manage it in future posts.
*Disclaimer: Please note every effort has been made to include accurate information, but further research and the advice of a physician is highly recommended before starting any of the anxiety management ideas listed.