Anxiety vs. Stress: How to Tell the Difference

stress and anxiety

Feelings of anxiety and stress are familiar experiences for many people in our fast-paced world. While we tend to use the terms interchangeably, anxiety and stress are distinct, each with separate causes, symptoms, and management strategies. At Amend Wellness, we believe in empowering our clients with knowledge to better understand and handle their mental health. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between stress and anxiety, along with practical tips for managing both.

What Is Stress?

Stress is a reaction to an external cause, such as a tight deadline at work or an argument with a friend, and usually subsides once the situation resolves. It’s your body’s immediate reaction to a challenge or demand, often characterized by a burst of energy meant to help you deal with the situation – commonly known as fight or flight.

Symptoms of stress include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased body tension
  • Upset stomach
  • Short-term emotional distress

What Is Anxiety?

Unlike stress, anxiety is a persistent, excessive worry that doesn’t go away, even in the absence of a stressor. Anxiety is about the anticipation of future threats, and people experiencing it often can’t pinpoint why they feel tense or upset.

Another distinction is that anxiety is a diagnosable mental health disorder whose criteria include various physical symptoms like muscle aches and gastrointestinal upset, in addition to irritability, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating.

How Do Stress and Anxiety Differ?

The primary differences between stress and anxiety are their cause and duration. Stress is typically short-term – it ends once the situation or problem resolves. Anxiety lingers, often without any obvious external trigger, and can become chronic, interfering with your daily life.

Use these tips to manage stress and mitigate anxiety symptoms.

  1. Recognize the signs: Be aware of how stress manifests in your body and look for signs of prolonged anxiety.
  2. Get regular physical activity: Exercise is a powerful stress reliever. It can improve your mood, boost your energy, and help you manage anxiety.
  3. Use mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can reduce stress and anxiety levels by calming your mind and reducing physical tension.
  4. Establish a routine: Having a structured schedule for meals, exercise, and sleep can reduce uncertainty, which is often a source of anxiety and stress.
  5. Limit stimulant intake: Reducing caffeine and sugar can decrease feelings of anxiety and stress, as these substances can heighten nervousness and agitation.
  6. Seek professional help: Consider getting counseling from a mental health professional if stress and anxiety cause you significant distress. A therapist can recommend strategies to manage stress and treat anxiety.

Restore Your Spirit at Amend Wellness

At Amend Wellness, we offer multiple services and amenities designed to address stress and anxiety. From emotional stabilization that explores the root causes of your worries to technology-based therapies that help you manage daily stress, we tailor our approach to meet your unique needs.

You must understand the distinction between stress and anxiety to manage them effectively. You can maintain your mental health and improve your quality of life by adopting healthy coping mechanisms and seeking appropriate support. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can support you on your quest for better mental wellness.