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How to Spot the Difference Between Stress and Anxiety

By Admin | 16 January 2019 |

Stress and anxiety are commonplace disorders that can affect anyone in the workplace. It seems that most employees are under some kind of stress to meet deadlines, deal with office politics, work long hours, or deal with job insecurity. But very often, the terms stress and anxiety are used interchangeably as if they were one and the same thing. However, there is a big difference between stress and anxiety.

It is important to recognise the difference between anxiety and stress because it can affect how we deal with it. Also, stress can have its benefits whereas anxiety is generally connected with negative outcomes. It is also possible to suffer from one without feeling the other.

How to Spot the Difference Between Stress and Anxiety

In this article, you will find out the difference between being under stress and coping with anxious feelings. You will also learn what you can do to address the issues of stress or anxiety in the workplace.

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal part of life and is not always connected with negative consequences. For example, stress can act as a motivating factor to get a job finished on time or to pursue that promotion you want.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that the benefits of stress are that it keeps us mentally alert, motivates us, and protects us from getting into dangerous situations. Under stress, the body releases certain hormones that help us to respond appropriately. (1)

It is when stress becomes a long-term (chronic) issue that it becomes a negative problem. The unpleasant consequences of long-term stress can affect your health, work, and family life. When the body suffers from chronic stress, the stress responses start to wear you down emotionally and physically. This is when stress becomes distress.

The negative effects of stress (distress) create a disbalance in the body and can cause physical and emotional problems. Chronic stress can cause digestive upset, high blood pressure, constant headaches, and poor sleep quality.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is classed as a mental health disorder and is closely related to stress because it can be a reaction to long-term stressful situations. However, anxiety is connected to worry and fear about situations that may or may not present themselves in the future. So, anxiety is just one of your body’s responses to stress.

Of course, it is only natural to experience feelings of anxiousness sometimes in life. For example, you may have a certain amount of fear when you start a new job. Or, you could have anxiety before a job interview. These are perfectly normal feelings.

Unfortunately, one of the consequences of chronic stress is uncontrolled anxiety. This can manifest itself as chronic worrying, an inability to interact with others, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, or phobias.

In essence, stress is your body’s reaction to a situation happening in the present whereas anxiety is the fear of some kind of future event.

Of course, some people are more prone to anxiety and may develop anxiety disorders that are not triggered by stress.

How to Reduce the Impact of Stress

Because chronic stress can often be the trigger for anxiety, dealing with stress can help to bring down levels of anxiety.

How can you manage stress better to improve your life quality, benefit your health, and be a more efficient employee or employer? According to the Victoria State Government, here are some ways of coping with stress in the workplace: (2)

  • Take care of your health and make sure that you are physically active every day and workout at least 3 times a week.
  • Be well organised at work and deal with your tasks in order of priority.
  • Learn about the benefits of time management so that you are not constantly working to deadlines or being late for work.
  • Regularly take time out to relax.
  • If your workload is getting too much, speak to your employer or team manager about your concerns.
  • Don’t sacrifice work for healthy relationships with your family and friends.

Knowing how to manage stress property can positively impact your outlook, efficiency, and productivity. Dealing with stress so that it doesn’t become a long-term issue can also help alleviate feelings of anxiety and prevent the health problems that negative stress causes.