Stress and anxiety are an expected part of life, while too much of it is not. You might feel concerned when faced with an unexpected problem in your life, at work, before taking an exam, or before making an important decision. Concerned about stuff is natural, but when it gets too ahead, and you start overthinking or putting too much pressure on yourself, it leads to stress.
Stress involves more than temporary worry or fear. It can get worse over time as it interferes with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. Anxiety, on the other hand, is the state when you have excessive worries that do not go away even in the absence of a stressor.
What is stress?
Stress is an emotional pressure that a being experiences. When you feel under pressure, your body releases stress hormones and this makes you alert and ready to face it. This is natural but too much of it or the habit of living by it can be is harmful. Being too stressed is not a sudden effect, but is a result of a natural process that gets too ahead thereby causing sudden fluctuations in one’s mood or behavioral pattern.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away even in the absence of stress triggering factors. To make things easy, too much stress-taking nature leads to anxiety, which is a really bad health scenario.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. It causes faster heartbeat, fast breathing, increases in blood pressure, resulting in more blood pumps to the organs. This response allows a person to be alert, focused, and ready to deal with a threat. Prolonged stress could lead to anxiety.
Note: from here on, stress would only mean a serious state (chronic stress) of it which causes trouble.
How do stress and anxiety occur?
The changes in you internally or externally, as you are not yet accustomed to those changes could trigger stress. Also, if something which you are unprepared for occurs then you may panic or find yourself easily agitated. This constant fear and nervousness would stay in your mind as memory and the next time when your mind feels a similar situation arising, you then start over-visualizing and overthinking which leads to more stress. This state of mind would then take control and dictate the terms thereby causing mood fluctuations even without any real worrying situation, thereby showing the symptom of anxiety.
Difference between stress and anxiety?
Stress needs something, a situation, or changes to your convenience or something that you don’t feel good about to get triggered, but anxiety is a state you reach when you don’t need any internal or external changes to cause sudden fluctuations in one’s mood or behavioral pattern. Stress is the body’s reaction to a threat, and anxiety is the body’s reaction to stress. Although there’s a fine line between stress and anxiety, both can impact you in the same way if gotten to extreme conditions.
Is stress all bad?
Of course not, stress does not necessarily have to be all bad. Too much of it or the habit of taking it up is definitely bad. Stress occurs to everyone from a kid to an adult to an oldie.
As one grows up it is expected that one can take up a certain level of stress, for it enables one to excel more. It is believed that appropriate amounts of stress can actually be a good source of motivation. It will drive you to strive harder to achieve your goals.
Just make sure you don’t make a habit out of it. Don’t take stress in situations that do not demand.
Anxiety is all bad. You are constantly stressed and distressed and have no idea how to manage your level of stress, then it is definitely going to take a toll on your well-being.
Symptoms of stress
- faster heartbeat
- faster breathing
- mood fluctuations
Symptoms of anxiety
Other than stress symptoms,
- anxious thoughts
- moodiness, irritability, or anger
- general unhappiness
- a feeling of being overwhelmed
- a feeling of unease or dread
- diarrhea or constipation
- tremors and twitches
- upset stomach or digestive issues
- frequent need to urinate
Stress and Anxiety management techniques
Everyone finds themselves in stressful situations every day, but not all can properly handle it. If you feel overwhelmed by such feelings, it will surely take a toll on your health.
For instance, if you have just been assigned to make a presentation in front of your boss/teacher at the very last minute, you will most likely feel the pressure. At times like this, you should never allow stress to stop you from doing your best.
When you feel easily agitated or overwhelmed by the things at hand, you should realize that you are stressed out. What do I do then?
As stress or anxiety can be bad for your physical and mental wellbeing, you definitely should try out our Stress and Anxiety management tips:
- Deep breathes / breathing exercises
- listening to music
- maintaining a nutritious or balanced diet
- getting regular quality sleep
- limiting alcohol and caffeine
- count to 10 slowly, one…two…
- finding humor and laughing
- focus on substituting negative thoughts with positive ones
- regular meditation
- mindfulness activities
- read books
- regular exercise / stretching / gym
- talk to friends, family
- seek help from a healthcare professional if it gets extreme
(a detailed coverage in the next post)
10 Warning signs when to refer to a Doctor
If someone feels stressed or anxious all the time, these are the warning signs to refer to a doctor or mental health professional. Time to explore different treatment options, for they might be are suffering from chronic stress or anxiety disorder.
- extreme anxiety that interferes with daily chores
- dependency on drugs or alcohol to deal with stress or anxiety
- irrational fears
- significant changes in sleeping habits
- significant changes in eating habits
- significant changes in personal hygiene habits
- a prolonged low mood
- self-harming or thinking about self-harming
- suicidal thoughts
- feeling out of control
If you see any of these warning signs, please feel free to contact a doctor or mental health professionals who are an expert, in dealing with such cases.
Social support stands out as the best of bests way of anxiety or stress management. Social support means the support that has been provided to an individual or you by the people around you including your family, friends, and the community.
Adequate social support will spread a feel or sense of belonging and love. This is important because it helps to build self-esteem that can help the individual to cope with stress. If you are anxious during stressful situations, then surround yourself with individuals who are willing to provide you with the support you need. As such, you will be able to get the confidence boost you need to solve any problems that are troubling you.
There are stressful situations that will occur at work. For instance, it may be a good idea to share your challenges with your co-workers, if you find yourself troubled by some work issues. What if they don’t understand my situation? At least, you will be relieved of some frustrations and stress you were bottling up within you. Besides, if they can help you, they will certainly. Who knows! If they might shower some encouragement that you badly needed.
Social support is thus tremendously important when it comes to dealing with stress. It is a proven fact that social support contributes to good mental and physical health.
In today’s world it might seem impossible to get rid of stress from our life, we can learn to manage it. We will talk about, ‘how to get rid of anxiety and stress in some other post.
Stress might get overwhelming, but you should never let it ruin your life or stop you from achieving your goals. Instead, try to take control of your thoughts, take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. Try to figure out the stressors in your life. Try to rectify it.
If you are stressed by the fear of making mistakes, take a deep breath, try to compose yourself. Remember to never feel shy sharing your feelings with your friends and family. The love and support from your loved ones will make you feel more confident to take on the world.
As stress is bad for your physical and mental wellbeing, you definitely should try out the stress management techniques mentioned above.
quick help brochure on anxiety or stress management