Stress and anxiety are often experienced when we encounter triggering events, such as having a high workload or being in uncomfortable social situations. Although both seem like similar concepts, there are differences.
Stress & Anxiety
By Hattie Chung
Stress is usually a reaction towards a short-term experience. The feeling of being stressed may be due to being nervous about an event or task; it can be positive or negative. If a deadline is coming up, stress may act as motivation to finish your work, which is positive. However, too much stress may impact your processing, leading to reduced productivity, efficiency and a possible delay in meeting deadlines. This in turn may cause a negative cycle, where this delay triggers a further stress reaction.
Anxiety is the negative outcome of stress, fear, unease and worry combined. It is often a long-term mental health disorder, and at times its causation may remain unknown. Although many patients’ anxiety is reactions are to a particularly stressful event, some are unable to identify the underlying stressor in their life. As an illustration, those with Social Anxiety Disorder or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often find it harder to pinpoint the source of their anxiety disorder.
Some common symptoms of stress:
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoiding fearful situations
- Constant worry
Learning to manage everyday stress can also help alleviate stress symptoms and improve your mental wellbeing. Several techniques are beneficial to down-regulating these negative emotions:
- Maintaining a good work-life balance
- Having enough sleep to regain energy
- Incorporating a healthy, balanced diet
- Breathing exercises and meditation
- Peer and family support
- Journaling emotions in a diary
Besides these, the significance of having a positive mindset further prevents stress reactions. Build your resilience towards challenges by changing the way you view them. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and be agile. Work around the qualities you have and believe in yourself. A positive mentality will improve your viewpoint of these previously stressful events. Once you build a positive stress mindset, you will be able to enhance your performance and productivity.
Stress and anxiety are surely unpleasant things to deal with. Yet, more than 61% of adults in the UK population reported feeling anxious in their lives. Among these people, 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings or had once self-harmed. These emotions, although common, are detrimental when experienced on a long-term basis. If you are showing any of the above symptoms, or they seem to be worsening, it is important to seek professional help as these may manifest into anxiety disorders or even elicit decay in other aspects of your wellbeing.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common sub type of anxiety disorders and characterised by anxiety symptoms in different settings, events and scenarios. You can learn more about this and can take the GAD questionnaire on our resource centre which may give you an indication of if you have traits of GAD.