Stress vs. Anxiety
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Stress vs. Anxiety

Published on May 19, 2022 and last reviewed on Dec 18, 2022   -  4 min read


Physical signs of stress and anxiety are very similar, making it difficult to distinguish between them. Read the article and learn how to differentiate them.

What Is Stress?

Stress is a natural human emotion that affects everyone at some point in their lives. In truth, the human body is built to recognize and respond to stress. Your body develops physical and mental reactions in response to changes or difficulties. That is what stress is. Our body's stress responses assist it in adapting to new surroundings. Stress can be beneficial as it keeps us attentive, motivated, and prepared to avoid danger. A stress reaction, for example, may allow the body to work harder and stay awake longer if there is an important test coming up. When stressors persist without reprieve or moments of relaxation, it becomes a problem.

Stress is not always a negative thing. When stress helps one escape an accident, fulfill a tight deadline, or have their wits about themself in the midst of mayhem, it can be beneficial. We all experience stress from time to time, but what one person feels unpleasant may be totally different from what another finds stressful. Public speaking is an example of this. Some people enjoy the rush, while others grow numb at the mere thought of it. However, stress should only be experienced for a short period of time. The pulse rate and respiration should slow down, and the muscles should relax once the fight-or-flight stage passes. The body should revert to its natural form in a short period of time, with no long-term consequences. Severe, regular, or long-term stress can be damaging to one's mental and physical health.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is experiencing a feeling of fear, worry, and restlessness. It can make one restless, sweaty, and tense and cause their heart to race. It possibly could be a natural reaction to stress. When confronted with a challenging situation at work or before taking a major decision, one could feel apprehensive. It may assist in coping. Anxiety may offer a jolt of energy or assist someone in concentrating. However, for a person who suffers from anxiety disorders, the worry is persistent and can be overwhelming at times. Our body's normal response to stress is anxiety. It is a sense of dreading over what is to come. Most people are afraid and frightened on the first day of their job, starting a new school, or giving a speech. However, one may have an anxiety disorder if the anxiety is severe, lasts more than six months, and interferes with daily life.

How to Differentiate Between Stress and Anxiety?

Anxiety and stress are frequently used interchangeably, and there is some overlap between the two. Anxiety and stress have the same fight, flight, or freeze reaction, and the physical sensations felt in both cases can be extremely similar. However, the causes of stress and anxiety are frequently distinct. Stress is mostly concerned with external demands that we are unable to cope with. We likely understand what we are stressed about, and the signs of stress usually go away after the stressful circumstance is finished.

Anxiety, on the other side, is not usually straightforward to diagnose. Anxiety is concerned with concerns or fears about things that would not go away even if the stressor is absent. Both stress and anxiety are natural parts of being human, but they can become problematic if they stay for an extended time period or have an adverse effect on our health or daily lives.

What Are the Symptoms of Stress?

When somebody is stressed, they may have the following symptoms:

What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

Signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety include:

  • Restlessness or a feeling of being tensed or agitated.

  • Exhaustion.

  • Tension in the muscles.

  • Disturbance of sleep.

  • Difficulty in controlling worry.

  • Symptoms of psychosomatic conditions such as stomachaches, dizziness, and headaches.

  • Physical signs and symptoms include racing heartbeat, profuse perspiration, breathlessness, and chest pain.

How to Cope With Stress?

It may take a little practice to figure out how to deal with stress. It is possible that what works for someone else does not work for you. It is critical to create a personal stress-reduction strategy to cope when stress strikes.

  • Deep breathing is the single most important thing one can do to relax when they are stressed.

  • Disconnecting from the digital world and reconnecting with the natural surroundings for a period of time each day can be helpful. Practice mindfulness, and take a walk outside.

  • Keeping exercise in the daily routine will help in avoiding having negative reactions to stressful situations.

  • Engaging in a creative hobby allows the mind to unwind.

  • Listening to mellow, relaxing music reduces stress levels.

  • Keeping a journal will help shift through the challenges and concentrate on what went well in the day.

How to Deal With Anxiety?

Psychotherapy and medicine are the two most common therapies for anxiety, and many patients benefit from a combination of these two.

  • Medications: Antidepressants have some minor side effects, but they can help ease anxiety symptoms and can be taken for a long time. The healthcare professional should explain about the medications to the patient in detail. Any negative effects should be immediately reported. Do not discontinue these medications without consulting the healthcare practitioner.

  • Psychotherapy: Therapy is beneficial in assisting patients in identifying, processing, and coping with their anxiety triggers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a very successful, short-term treatment that teaches people how to address their triggers using specialized skill sets.

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Before starting any medication, there are a few things one may do at home. Home cures for anxiety symptoms include daily exercise, proper sleep hygiene, healthy nutrition, and avoiding coffee and alcohol.


Though stress and anxiety are two distinct concepts, they are intertwined. Anxiety can be triggered by stress in some instances. Worries and anxiety are to be expected in life. Every stress or anxiety should not be viewed as a cause for alarm. Therefore, it is critical to understand when such feelings are having negative implications on our life. A mental health expert can assist in developing new coping skills if the stress and anxiety are becoming unbearable.

Last reviewed at:
18 Dec 2022  -  4 min read




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