Often, clients refer to stress as anxiety, as well as referring to anxiety as anxiety. But how do you know which is which and if it’s become a problem? Both anxiety and stress tend to have them same symptoms; lack of sleep, irritability, excessive worry, aches and pains, the list goes on.
First let’s define stress. Typically, stress is short-term experience caused by an external factor. An external factor could be an argument, deadline at work, traffic, financial issues, etc. Stress can be both beneficial and detrimental. Stress helps motivate us to get things done, without it we may let many things slip through the cracks. Like getting to work on time, hitting deadlines and keeping up with household chores. Stress becomes negative when you start to experience things like trouble sleeping, lack of concentration or you are having trouble managing your typical day to day tasks.
Anxiety is a long-term experience caused by an internal factor. An internal factor would be your reaction to stress, even if the situation is not actually threatening. Excessive stress can lead to anxiety, as well as genetic factors and past experiences. Anxiety will still be around once the stressful situation is over. Anxiety can impact many areas of your life like socializing, work and even physical health.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES FOR ANXIETY VS. STRESS
Stress: You are worried about traffic on your way to work so you leave 5 minutes early. You may continue to feel stressed the entire drive to work and attempt to speed or take a shorter route to make sure you get there on time. Once you arrive to work you are able to let the stress go and focus on getting your tasks done. You think “glad that’s over!”
Anxiety: You are worried about traffic on your way to work so you leave 5 minutes early. You continue to feel stressed the entire drive to work and attempt to speed or take a shorter route to make sure you get there on time. Once you arrive to work you continue to feel stressed. You may have trouble focusing on your tasks at work, you feel on edge most of the day and have trouble calming down. Once you do calm down you may find something else to be stressed about. You may think, “I made it work on time but that was intense, what if my boss noticed I was almost late.” Your mind will continue to find things to be stressed about. Typically those worries won’t be realistic or have any facts to back up what your worried about.
When to get help
If you feel like either stress or anxiety are starting to take over your life and you’re having trouble carrying out your normal daily routines then it’s time to get help. Seeking therapy can be beneficial in learning techniques to manage stress or anxiety.