Stress and Anxiety Difference: Symptoms + Solutions

Stress and Anxiety Difference: Symptoms + Solutions


Are you looking to learn about stress and anxiety differences in order to better understand yourself? In this article, we’ll look closer at the symptoms of both stress and anxiety to learn which treatment options are available to you.


Stress vs. Anxiety

There is a fine line between stress and anxiety. Despite the fact that both are emotional reactions, stress is typically the result of an outside factor. A discussion with a loved one or a job deadline are examples of short-term triggers. Long-term triggers include prejudice, chronic sickness, and an inability to work. Stress may cause various emotional and physical symptoms, including weariness, irritation, rage, muscular soreness, digestive problems, and trouble falling asleep.

On the other hand, excessive, ongoing anxiety that remains even in the absence of the stressors mentioned is what characterizes anxiety. Anxiety causes almost the same symptoms as stress, including restlessness, headaches, lethargy, tense muscles, and irritability.

Talking to a mental health professional can help you understand what you are going through and give you more coping mechanisms if your stress or anxiety does not go away or if you feel like your stress or anxiety is interfering with your daily life or your mood.


Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety

Most people will get confused about differentiating stress from anxiety because they have similar symptoms. However, there are still certain differences that can help you understand whether you might have anxiety or stress.

These are common stress symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain or tension
  • Digestive issues
  • Sleeping issues
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Sweating 
  • Feeling overwhelmed or drained
  • Restlessness
  • Appetite changes
  • Increased heart rate


When it comes to anxiety, these are the common symptoms that most people experience:

  • Faster heartbeat and breathing
  • Feeling of unease
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling nervous or tense


Stress and Anxiety Triggers

Anxiety and stress differ mostly in the presence of the body’s stress response or the fear of the trigger itself. In other words, stress is typically connected to a certain situation or event, and once that situation or event is done, the stress is gone as well. Yet, with anxiety, you continue to anticipate or fear the triggering event. 

Perhaps you’re nervous about a difficult exam you have coming up, or you’re trying to balance working from home because of your three young children. However, both of these situations trigger your stress, and once they are resolved, your stress will disappear as well. 

This is not to say that stress has no long-term effects. Chronic stress is a result of long-term stress caused by continuous strain, such as demanding work or family obligations, and it can have a significant negative impact on your general health. 

On the other hand, anxiety isn’t usually associated with a single stressor. In some cases, stress might even lead to anxiety. Stressful events that occur throughout childhood, adolescence, or maturity are frequently the cause of anxiety disorders. Early-life stress and trauma are likely to have a particularly significant effect.


How to Tell If You Have Stress or Anxiety

Not sure if your symptoms are the result of stress or anxiety? Take a step back and consider your current circumstances. What problems or issues do you often worry about? Would you characterize these worries as threats or unpleasant events? 

If you can pinpoint a particular trigger for your emotions, stress is probably to blame. However, if you’re not sure what is causing you to feel this way, it could be that you’re actually experiencing anxiety and not stress. 


How to Manage Stress and Anxiety

While experiencing stress and worry occasionally is normal, there are techniques you may use to help manage them. Observe how your body and mind react to circumstances that cause tension and worry. You can predict your response the next time something similar happens, and it might not be as upsetting.

Stress and anxiety symptoms might be lessened with certain lifestyle adjustments. These methods can be applied in addition to pharmaceutical anxiety therapies.

These are the things that can increase your stress or anxiety:

  • Too much coffee or alcohol
  • Losing sleep or sleep issues
  • Not being physically active enough
  • Being in stressful, dynamic environments 
  • Not participating in activities that bring you joy


People who engage in physical exercise can better handle stressful situations. This might be a run, a bike ride, or a group sport. That said, you can also find tremendous benefits from calming exercises like yoga and qigong.

Also, talking to another person about your concerns can reduce stress. You don’t have to wait to see your friends in person to talk to them; you can call them or have a video call with them. Whatever works for you should be used to alleviate stress or anxiety symptoms. 


When to See a Doctor 

Anxiety and stress are not necessarily negative traits. People require these instinctive, fleeting responses in order to keep themselves safe. You should see a doctor if you begin to have constant or frequent feelings of stress or anxiety. Only a mental health professional can diagnose you with an anxiety disorder and teach you valuable methods to implement when you feel anxious or stressed.

If you notice any of the warning signs below, make sure you reach out to a doctor or therapist:

  • Excessive anxiety is interfering with your daily functioning
  • You turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism for stress or anxiety
  • You have irrational fears
  • Your sleep quality is worsening, and you have trouble falling asleep
  • You either lose your appetite or have enormous food cravings
  • You feel the urge to hurt yourself, whether it’s physically, emotionally, or verbally
  • You can’t control your negative or suicidal thoughts


Taking Care of Your Mental Health 

Humans naturally experience stress and anxiety in response to events that seem dangerous or unsettling. They are a component of the fight-or-flight response, which protects us by preparing the body to handle danger.

Anxiety is the body’s response to stress, while stress is the body’s response to a threat. Relaxation strategies, such as breathing exercises, physical activity, and talking about issues, can help people manage their stress and anxiety.

Anxiety and tension can sometimes take a toll on a person and lead to more serious, long-term consequences. Anyone who feels that stress or anxiety is having a negative impact on their daily life should think about finding a good therapist to discuss their problems with. 

If you want to start your journey at home, get calm with our anxiety therapy video. 


Quick Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

quick ways to reduce anxiety and stress


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