It’s a common misconception that stress and anxiety are one in the same. We’re here to tell you that they are quite different terms and therefore there are various methods for coping with each. Here are the differences between stress and anxiety as well as how to deal with both.
Differences Between Stress and Anxiety (& Tips on Handling Them)
Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Humans have been reacting to stress for thousands of years. It’s part of our survival technique. During stressful situations our adrenal glands release adrenaline, causing our hearts to pound, blood pressure to rise, muscles to tense, and the pupils of our eyes to dilate. This is also known to many as “fight or flight mode.”
Specific stressors can vary widely from minor such as constant irritable sounds or someone playing a practical joke by jumping out of a bush to scare you. On the more severe side, the loss of a loved one or life-threatening situations during war are powerful stressors which can cause lasting emotional damage. Everyone reacts to stress and resulting adrenaline release differently. Feeling frustrated, nervous, angry and even anxious are just a few different ways that people cope with stress.
Anxiety on the other hand, is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Anxiety has less to do with the stressor itself, and more about the feeling the stressor creates when thinking about it.
Typical topics people have anxiety about include feeling trapped in a cycle you can’t escape, worry over negative criticism, predicting perceived failures and dread over upcoming events. Anxiety about these topics all stem from the anticipation of an event with an uncertain outcome.
In summary, stress and anxiety are two different issues. Stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor or stressor and anxiety is stress that continues after that stressor is gone.
How To Deal With Stress
Remove The Stressor
The best way to deal with stress is to remove the stressor or remove yourself from the stressful environment. It may seem silly and even a bit obvious, but if you find that time and time again you are getting stressed over the same thing, it could be time to take action and remove it. Whether it’s creating a more comfortable work environment or checking the news less, there are usually ways to remove unnecessary stressors if you get creative enough. While this is not always possible, it is the easiest and most efficient way to reduce your stress level.
Noticing your breath can be a great indicator of how we’re feeling, both physically and emotionally. When we get stressed, typically our breaths become more shallow, our bodies clamp up and we become very tense. Using yogic breathing, you can quickly and efficiently come back to a more relaxed and level-headed place. Special breathing techniques allow extra air deeper into your body so that more oxygen can be absorbed into your bloodstream and brain.
Yoga, being a holistic practice, its great for not only working on your physical strength, but also mental muscles. Putting your body into uncomfortable (but not painful) positions helps us to better deal with stressors in our daily lives which may also make us feel uncomfortable. As your practice deepens, we begin to realize that “this too will pass” and to be less attached to negative and stressful thoughts.
How To Deal With Anxiety
Usually, when we think of meditation we picture sitting in a quiet room with our legs folded. However, walking mindfulness meditation can sometimes be even more effective to help clear up cluttered thoughts and calm down your monkey mind so you can refocus and get right back to the task at hand.
There are many ways to do mindfulness meditation, but at its core, the objective is to help you stop worrying about the future or the past, the major causes of anxiety. This technique switches the focus to what’s happening right now, enabling you to be fully engaged in the present moment and less anxious about what may happen in the future. If you choose a seated meditation, we recommend honing your attention on something such as the breath, a mantra, or the flickering light of a candle.
Surprisingly, your diet can affect your anxiety just as much as other outside stressors. Low levels of certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, can cause some people to be more prone to anxiety than if they had healthy doses. This is because your emotions can affect how your physical body feels and vice versa. So a healthy body is less likely to be as heavily impacted by negative situations.
Sometimes, the best remedy is the support of friends, family or a life coach. When we feel anxious, it can help to voice our concerns and fears about the future to someone close to us. Often when this is done, we realize that the perceived negative outcome that is causing the anxiety isn’t as bad as we think.
Do you feel like stress and anxiety are controling your life? Let relieve your thoughts and how you relieve tension in the comments below!