The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety

It’s that time of year again…tax season! For many, this is the most dreaded and hated time of year. Financial pressures can mount and add to the already full plate of stressors that you may feel.

Whether it’s taxes, a deadline at work, a family conflict, dealing with an illness, school exams, or needing to make an important decision, it is safe to say that all of us have experienced stress in one form or another. In today’s fast-paced world, it is virtually impossible to avoid.

What is Stress? 

Contrary to popular belief, not all stress is bad. It is a part of normal living that helps us be productive and is reported by folks at all ages. And in fact, stress can actually be a positive that helps us learn things like:

  • Resilience
  • Problem solving
  • How to adapt to everyday challenges

Stress becomes a problem when it is intense, recurring, or remains unresolved over a period of time. At that point, stress takes a toll and can be very damaging.

It can affect the way we learn, our behavior, peace of mind, and ultimately, our health. By some estimates, as much as 80% of all disease and illness is initiated and aggravated by stress. Over the long term, it can increase your chances of developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, substance abuse, and anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Speaking of anxiety, many people use the terms “stress” and “anxiety” interchangeably in everyday conversation. But there is a difference.

Stress, unlike anxiety, is a response to the pressures we feel in life. These pressures, in turn, cause adrenaline to be released. Too much adrenaline sticking around for too long can lead to depression, a rise in blood pressure, and other negative effects.

One of these negative effects is anxiety. It is the process during which a person becomes scared and apprehensive of what lays ahead, and often manifests itself in physical problems like dizziness, pain, shortness of breath, and panic attacks.

In other words, stress is a response to an existing stress-causing factor (stressor). Anxiety is the continued experience of stress that is out of proportion to the stressor or that continues well after the stressor is gone. Though they are closely related, not all people who experience stress will experience anxiety. Properly managing your stress is a critical factor in preventing anxiety and the host of other problems that it can lead to. Make sure you educate yourself on the strategies to manage stress.