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What is the difference between stress and anxiety?

Let’s start by saying that neither are fun! Both stress and anxiety can be helpful or work against us depending on the amount and situation. Stress and anxiety are related, cousins in fact….but distinctly different experiences. Stress refers to a physical, mental, or emotional response to a challenging or demanding situation a significant life change. Stress is a normal and often adaptive response to challenges and can help us cope with difficult situations and improve performance. Anxiety, is a feeling of worry or fear that is often related to stress. Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives, and is a natural response to stress or perceived danger. However, when anxiety becomes excessive and interferes with daily life, it may be indicative of an anxiety disorder.

The key difference between stress and anxiety is the duration and intensity of the response. While stress is typically a short-term response to a specific event, anxiety is a persistent and excessive worry or fear that can last for an extended period of time and interfere with daily life and normal functioning. Anxiety often can also be conceputalized as a worry that is out of the realm of realistic concern.

How can an individual manage stress and anxiety in a helpful way?

It is important to manage both stress and anxiety in order to maintain good mental and physical health. There are many strategies for managing stress and anxiety, including exercise, a healthy lifestyle, and therapy. Therapy can be helpful in identifying and talking back to unhelpful thoughts that are working against someone. If you or someone you know is experiencing excessive or persistent anxiety that interferes with daily life, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Anxiety is quite treatable, but can often take over and monopolize our thoughts and change our life experience. It can be a sneaky little monster that takes over our subconscious thoughts.

How can NU Psychology help individuals with anxiety? We help create individualized plans to help individuals manage stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being. We support with assisting our client’s specific stressors, provide coping strategies, and offer a range of therapeutic interventions to help manage stress and reduce its impact on daily life.

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