Your heart is racing, palms are sweating and your breathing is shallow. You are anxious.
Or are you stressed? Worried even?
What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?
If you find it hard to distinguish between stress, worry, and anxiety, you are not alone.
With symptoms that overlap, knowing which one you are experiencing at any given time can be tricky, but there are subtle differences.
Read our guide to the differences between anxiety, stress, and worry to see which one you are experiencing and what you can do to overcome it.
Is It Worry?
Worry is the thoughts, emotions, and actions driven by negative thinking.
Some people worry about everything. You can probably identify people in your life who are constant worriers. They appear to be the eternal pessimist – always expecting or preparing for the worst.
Most of us worry from time to time but when it becomes chronic, worry can interfere with your daily life. The pattern of negative thoughts can become an uncontrollable cycle which escalates into irrational fears if left unchecked.
How To Stop Worrying?
If you find yourself fixated on a problem, do not let your worries get the better of you.
With over thirty years of experience, an award-winning therapist, Marisa Peer, reminds us that something is “only a problem if you make it a problem.” Marisa advises considering The Three Ps to get perspective on a problem.
- It must be permanent – it never goes away
- It must be all-pervasive – occurring at all times, every minute of the day
- It must be personal
Asking yourself these questions will enable you to feel empowered and help you feel in control of the situation.
Is It Stress?
While worry is caused by our internal thoughts, stress is a reaction to external pressures. Examples of stress triggers include moving house, going through a divorce, becoming a parent or an important interview.
Stress has an impact on both the mind and the body.
What Happens When We Are Stressed?
Stress is not just in your head, it is in your body. 77% of people report experiencing stress that affects their physical health.
Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Clenched jaw
- Chest pains
- Digestive problems
- Shallow breathing
When the cause is external, we can feel at a loss as to how to overcome it. However, you have the power to deal with stress as this article demonstrates.
When we are stressed, we trigger our sympathetic nervous system. This means we are constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode. To free yourself from the effects of stress, you need to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system – this is where healing and renewal occur.
Make time for calming activities, which slow your heart rate, like meditation or listening to soothing music.
You can free yourself from stress.
Is It Anxiety?
The biggest difference between stress and anxiety is the existence of a threat.
While stress is caused in response to external factors, anxiety is characterized as a “persistent feeling of apprehension or dread” in a situation where there is no threat.
If you hate your job and you are stressed, once you quit, the symptoms of stress will go away on their own. However, anxiety lingers after the problem has been resolved.
With anxiety, you will envisage a threat where there is none. Reading too much into an email from a colleague and fearing that your job is at risk is anxiety. The threat is imagined but feels very real to you.
Anxious feelings can manifest into an anxiety disorder which has a significant impact on your day-to-day life and wellbeing. Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and social phobia. Find out more about different anxiety disorders.
How To Overcome Anxiety?
You do not have to live with anxiety. You can rewire your mind to think and respond differently to the situations which cause you to feel anxious.
Marisa Peer has created highly-effective hypnosis audio to enable you to overcome anxiety and gain control over your racing thoughts.
By listening to this audio every day, you could feel stronger, more fulfilled, and much calmer—some people start to see results within the first 21 days. It is available for instant download now…