What is the Difference between Stress and Anxiety?
We all live with stress on a daily basis, but often it can turn into anxiety if the stress gets too much for us.
In our modern world we are surrounded by potential threats, and the pace of life is so much faster than it has been before. We are surrounded by threats that we are not in control of. These threats cause us stress, which can then develop into anxiety.
We force ourselves to remain in situations that cause us stress, anxiety and panic, like having to give presentations at work or discipline our children. Stress management should therefore be something that we all incorporate into our daily lives. What would you incorporate into your day? Here are a few ideas:
- Turning your phone off at night, and other times during the day.
- Getting up and leaving your desk regularly throughout the day.
- Leaving plenty of time for your travel.
- Limiting the time you work. For instance, finishing at 5pm a couple of times a week, or not working at the weekends, or only working on the presentation for 2 hours.
- Safeguarding time with your family, free from any work interruptions.
- Taking regular holidays.
- Avoiding situations and people that cause you stress
Our brains and bodies respond to potential or imagined threats in exactly the same way as they do to actual threats. Therefore, our fight and flight response is triggered every time we worry. Whether it’s everyday worries like whether we have left the cooker on, or whether our jeans make our bottoms look big, or whether it is constant worries like the climate changing.
Stress is caused by constant low-level threats triggering our fight or flight response. We are all used to living with a level of stress. However, this should not be underestimated. Work deadlines, money issues, world events, conflict with others, and frustration all build up. Our bodies and minds are working hard on a daily basis to assess and deal with these threats already. If we then add on a global pandemic, the isolation of lockdown, war in Ukraine and the current political instability it is no wonder why stress and anxiety levels are sky high at the moment.
We all need to allow our bodies time to relax and rest. We need to get away from the danger. However, in our society we force ourselves to stay in situations that cause us stress, and constantly fires our fight or flight response. We have to go to work, we have to commute on the busy roads or public transport, we have to deal with difficult family members and kids, we have to answer our texts and emails, and we turn on the news and are shown everything that is wrong in the world We force ourselves to live with a background constant firing of our fight or flight response.
Forcing ourselves to stay in these stressful situations takes a toll on both our bodies and our brains and leads to anxiety, panic and burn out. If our daily level of stress is high, then it will not take much to push us into feeling overwhelmed.
Stress can easily turn into anxiety. This is when the fight or flight response starts to affect your daily life negatively. This point will therefore differ from one person to another. Anxiety can be caused by a single event, or several events. Losing your job would make you anxious; about how you are going to pay your mortgage, are you going to be able to get another job etc. However, equally if you are criticised at work every day by your boss you will also become anxious due to the continual nature of the stress.
Good stress management can help to stop anxiety.
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