We’ve all heard of the terms stress and anxiety. But what exactly do they mean, and how can we tell the difference between the two?
What is stress?
Stress is something we all experience, and it’s a completely normal feeling. Stress is a physical and mental response to challenges or pressures that we face. It happens when our minds recognise a threat or a trigger.
It varies from person to person, and what one person may find stressful, another may not. It can also be positive and motivating, such as the stress that’s felt before competing in a race or giving a presentation. However, when stress becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can have negative effects on both your physical and mental health.
Stress can be triggered by lots of factors, from work pressures, relationships, and financial worries to major life changes. So, when life’s feeling a little challenging, you’ll likely start to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Some of us find it harder to manage the feeling of stress than others but the good news is that stress is usually mild, short-lived and subsides after the trigger resolves.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is quite different. Unlike stress, which is something that occurs in response to an external factor or trigger, anxiety happens due to an internal factor or fear. Anxiety is a mental health condition caused by persistent, excessive worry or fear about everyday situations, events, or activities. Many people experiencing anxiety can’t explain why they’re feeling anxious, and it can manifest itself in lots of ways, physically and mentally. It can have a huge impact on how a person lives their day-to-day life. This is quite different from somebody who is feeling stressed, there’s usually a reason that can be identified as to what’s causing the stress.
What are the differences between stress and anxiety?
A key difference between stress and anxiety is that stress happens in response to an external trigger. Anxiety, however, can happen without any clearly identifiable trigger. Most of the time, people who are under stress can continue with their day-to-day lives, complete tasks, and perform. Whereas, if someone is experiencing anxiety, it’s likely that the physical and mental emotions associated can stop a person from living their normal life. For example, a person with social anxiety may struggle to leave the house and interact with others.
Can long-term or repeated stress turn into anxiety?
If you’re experiencing long-term stress, it doesn’t mean that it will necessarily turn into anxiety. Many people can experience high levels of stress for long periods of time, and they don’t develop anxiety. However, for some people, chronic unmanaged stress could increase the chances of them developing an anxiety disorder.
Remember, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, please reach out for help to The Electrical Industries Charity or Dr Dipesh Mistry.
Need support? We’re here to help.
Call our helpline: 0800 652 1618 open: Mon – Fri 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Sat 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Dr. Dipesh Mistry
Telephone: 0207 935 0207
Written in collaboration with Dr. Dipesh Mistry.