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The Difference between stress and anxiety

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

When you feel like your bucket is empty and you are about to spill your last drop. Take a step back and examine your situation. Are you stressed or anxious?

Here is a breakdown on the differences between stress and anxiety and how to differentiate between the two.

When you have a deadline, presentation or meeting your partners parents, you might be familiar with “pit in your stomach” feeling. This feeling is associated with stress that can be both good and bad. According to the “Yerkes-Dodson law” moderate levels of ‘arousal’ (stress) can motivate you to stay alert and act for peak performance – ‘getting in the zone’. While too little stress can bring your performance down – and too much… Can send you into a needless “fight-or-flight” scenario.

Here are the key questions to consider when recognizing yourself as being stressed.

- Is there an external stressor (i.e., deadline, presentation, meeting) present?

- Do the feelings (irritable, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles and difficulty sleeping) coincide with the duration of the stressor?

If your answer to the above questions is yes and the feeling does not affect your day-to-day activities – you can classify yourself as being stressed.

Considering that the effects affect your day-to-day operations. Ask these questions then to establish whether the stress you experience might be a form of anxiety.

- Is the feeling of apprehension or dread persistent?

- Do you experience insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension and irritability, even in the absence of a stressor?

If your answer to the second set of questions is yes, you can consider yourself to be anxious.

Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering, receive treatment. (ADAA 2020)

Now the question on everyone’s lips is: “What can I do to cope?”

Do some physical activity – Be it a walk around the block, a hike or a 5min workout getting active will benefit you. Physical activity helps with blood circulation in the body, increasing the amount of oxygen in your cells. Thus, making you feel more energetic. It also releases dopamine (a natural “feel-good” hormone). Eat healthy foods – “You are what you eat” is not a statement to be taken lightly. What we eat feeds our body with nutrients, vitamins, and necessary building blocks to obtain a healthy body and a healthy mind. It is therefor important to consider what exactly it is that you are feeding the body that has to take care of your whole being. Eating a healthy diet minimizes gut problems, high blood pressure and the tendency for heart problems. Start with recipes to reduce anxiety here. Reach out – As humans we are social creatures, and we need each other to maintain a healthy balance in life. “No man is an island”- John Donne. Reach out to loved ones to check in how they are doing and shift your focus. This often helps to put some perspective on your current situation and to take a step back and evaluate your situation with a new set of eyes. If you do not feel like talking about your current state – write it down. This is also proven to help people ‘blow off some steam’ and get perspective.

Take a supplement – There are natural supplements (like Serobrine) on the market designed to aid with daily stresses and anxiety. They offer a ‘fast relieve’ for the moment and can aid to turn your everyday into a happier day.

There are many support groups and therapists who are trained to help people that struggle with anxiety.

Don’t let your bucket run dry. Get the necessary help if you need more support.


National Institute of Mental Health

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

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