Anxiety is one of the most common health conditions across the world.
Everyone experiences stress. But, the two aren’t exactly the same.
Understanding the differences between stress and anxiety, as well as where they intersect, can help you make more positive choices when it comes to managing your symptoms and seeking help if needed.
Unfortunately, when you’re in the throes of either one, it can be difficult to know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Educating yourself as much as possible about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can make a big difference.
So, what is the difference between stress and anxiety, and how can you handle both?
Stress is External
It’s important to note that stress and anxiety can look the same on the surface. Understanding where they come from is what really matters.
When you’re dealing with stress, you’re also typically dealing with external triggers.
Stress triggers can include anything from a fight with your partner to budget cuts at work. It might not even be something inherently negative. Maybe you have a big project coming up or you’re stressed about a party you’re throwing.
Short-term stress can raise your blood pressure, make you feel dizzy, and lead to stomach issues and muscle tension.
Long-term stress, on the other hand, often has greater consequences. It can cause muscle pain, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.
Anxiety is Internal
While people with anxiety are often “triggered” by certain things, it’s largely a condition that starts from within.
Everyone experiences worry from time to time. But, anxiety refers to a persistent worry that won’t go away and often takes over nearly every aspect of life.
The symptoms of anxiety are extremely similar to those experienced under stress. You might deal with fatigue, muscle aches, a racing heart, and even nausea.
The long-term effects of anxiety can increase your risk of heart disease and gastrointestinal issues. It can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
Anxiety can impact more than just your physical well-being. It can damage relationships, your career, and almost everything you may have once enjoyed about life— all because of fear.
Treating Both Conditions
So, how can you treat and/or manage both stress and anxiety?
Because the two are so similar, the management techniques are nearly identical.
On your own, there are many things you can do to deal with both stress and anxiety. Self-care is a huge part of symptom management. Things like exercise, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep are crucial. Techniques like meditation and mindfulness can also help, especially in moments when you’re really struggling.
Most importantly, though, you should consider speaking with a mental health professional.
Anxiety rarely goes away on its own. Working with a therapist is often the best way to not only deal with your symptoms but what’s causing them, to begin with. A therapist will help you discover the root cause of your anxiety and work forward from there so you can take control of your life again.
If you’re dealing with stress, the same principles apply. Finding the source of your stress is the first step in managing it. Sometimes, it takes an outside perspective to make that easier.
Whether you’re dealing with anxiety, stress, or both conditions, you don’t have to manage them on your own.
Feel free to contact me to learn more about these two conditions. No matter what you’re dealing with, help is available. Set up an appointment, and we can get to the bottom of your stress and anxiety. More importantly, we’ll work on ways to put you back in the driver’s seat, so neither condition has such a strong hold on you anymore.