In today’s world where life is so busy and demanding most people experience stress and anxiety at some point in their lives. From the outer perspective, it is difficult to spot the difference between stress and anxiety as both share many similar emotional and physical symptoms like a sleepless night, lack of focus, irritability, feeling exhausted, rapid heart rate, headaches, and muscle tension to name a few. However, their origin is totally different and there is no visible symptom which can differ one from others making it more difficult to decide when just deep breathing will help than seeking professional help or vice versa.
Generally speaking, stress is a reaction to an external cause or a threat in any given situation. It is a response to the pressure we face in life such as a tight deadline at the workplace or having an argument with a close friend or spouse. It results in poor concentration and impaired ability to do the day to day activities. However, stress subsides once the situation has been resolved and is usually a short term experience. The stress symptoms can be managed and reduced by the following ways
– Physical activity
– Practicing relaxation breathing like deep breathing
– Taking out time to connect with people and talk to them
– Disconnect from the digital world and take a walk outside in the natural surroundings
– Listen to the soothing and relaxing music
All of the above-mentioned ways are just a guideline and it requires trial and error to conclude on what works best for you to cope up with stress. What works for your friend may not work for you or someone else. It is very important that you build your own stress reduction toolkit by practicing multiple strategies and come up with the best which works for you when stress kicks in.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is one of the negative effects of stress and its origin is internal. It is a sustained mental health disorder which isn’t easy to figure out and usually triggered by stress. Most of the anxiety symptoms are similar to stress symptoms from trouble sleeping and poor concentration to irritability or impaired ability. However, there is one symptom which only signals anxiety and that is a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread. Having anxious thoughts including excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening is the most common anxiety symptom in all anxiety disorders. Unlike stress, it persists even after the concern has passed and stays for months and requires medical attention from a licensed mental health professional. In severe cases anxiety leads to mental health disorders also known as anxiety disorders. Some anxiety disorders are phobias, panic attacks, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OSD).
It is important to identify anxiety symptoms earlier in order to prevent the development of an anxiety disorder. The person should always notice the sign of distress like panic attacks which is a symptom of anxiety and not stress. In case if you seem to suffer from anxiety seek anxiety treatment as early as possible. The main treatments for anxiety include:
Psychotherapy: It is a type of talk therapy where the mental health professional talks to the person suffering from anxiety to understand the trigger points in order to help them to cope with it.
Medication: Antidepressants can be prescribed to help alleviate some symptoms of anxiety.
Change in Lifestyle: Daily workout, healthy eating, and good sleep may help in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Some situations in life can be overwhelming. It is the way how you cope up with them matters. Though stress can be dealt with in a practical manner, anxiety may require professional counseling, medication, or other psychological treatment.
Be safe and never hesitate to seek help when it comes to your health!