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Stress vs. Anxiety: What's the Difference and How to Reduce Them

September 05, 2022 6 min read

Stress vs. Anxiety: What's the Difference and How to Reduce Them

Stress vs. Anxiety: What's the Difference and How to Reduce Them

In a world where money rules almost everything, it becomes more difficult to live without it. It may not be the most important thing in life. Wealth can also be defined as having good health and being happy. Furthermore, depth of awareness can be your most valuable asset.

Losing your source of income, losing a loved one, or feeling empty can make you feel stressed. Anxiety can also kick in, affecting how you sleep and interact with people. You may eventually become unable to interact with people, making you feel like a social outcast. Stress and anxiety are part of the body's natural flight or fight response. They can occasionally happen, although they may also overburden an individual. This article looks at the differences between the two and the best ways to reduce them.

What is Stress?

Stress is a part of the body's natural fight or flight system. This natural biological response can occur when you feel threatened or in imminent danger. The threat could be emotional or physical, and it causes your brain to flood your body with hormones quickly. When facing a real or perceived threat, the hypothalamus part of the brain is triggered. The hypothalamus then sends impulses and hormone signals to your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands release several hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline

Functions of Adrenaline

  • Stimulating perspiration
  • Contract blood vessels to ensure that blood is directed to muscles
  • Increases your breathing rate
  • Increasing your heartbeat rate
  • Inhabiting insulin production

When it is frequently produced, adrenaline can be disadvantageous

Risks of Overproduction of Adrenaline

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain

Cortisol

Cortisol is known to be the main "stress hormone."

Functions of Cortisol

Cortisol hormone helps in:

  • Alerting immune system response
  • Impeding body functions that are less important while in imminent danger
  • Resigning the amount of glucose in the blood to increase energy levels
  • Improving accessibility of substances responsible for repairing body tissues

Negative Effects of Higher Cortisol Levels

According to Ouanes et al. (2019), higher cortisol levels may also lead to the risk of dementia. Furthermore, it causes;

  • Reduced energy levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Weakened immune system

Types of Stress

Acute Stress

This type of stress happens to everyone and refers to the body's spontaneous reaction to a new, intriguing situation. This can happen when you completely enjoy something or have undergone a life-changing experience. For example, when going down on a rollercoaster or almost losing your life because of an accident. Acute stress lasts for a shorter period and is majorly helpful for the body

Chronic Stress

Long-term stress is known to cause chronic stress. You are unable to relax, and you are constantly worried about yourself or something else. Bisht et al. (2019) noted that it might lead to illnesses such as migraines and disorders such as insomnia. It may also lead to depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety. How is anxiety different from stress?

Causes of Stress

  • Living in poverty
  • Experiencing an abusive childhood, or an abusive relationship
  • Living with chronic diseases
  • Imbalanced personal life, whereby you work excessively without resting adequately

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety usually results from stress. It is defined as a feeling of fear about what is about to happen. For example, you may feel anxious before performing in a school competition. You may also feel anxious before saying a speech. However, higher anxiety levels can cause an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety can be an unpleasant feeling, but it can push you to keep going harder at what you want to achieve. However, an anxiety disorder has the opposite effect. While normal anxiety would make you feel apprehensive once in a while, an anxiety disorder may make you feel fearful almost all the time. Herring et al. (2019) suggested that the disorder may disconnect you from yourself, your purpose, your friends, and your hobbies.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • Phobia is an uncontrollable, extreme fear of a specific situation or object. For example, if you are extremely afraid of heights, you have acrophobia, and if you are extremely afraid of insects, you have entomophobia.
  • Separation anxiety disorder is the extreme fear of being away from your friends and family
  • Panic disorder refers to the recurring panic attacks that you experience frequently
  • Social anxiety disorder is the extreme fear of being ridiculed or judged by other people in social situations.

Causes of Anxiety

Some causes of anxiety include:

  • Substance use
  • Stress
  • Traumatic experiences, such as child abuse
  • Medical situations such as surgeries
  • Medical issues such as diabetes and depression

Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Higher inflammation and muscle soreness
  • Irritability

How do Stress and Anxiety Relate to Each Other?

Stress is known to cause anxiety. While stress emanates from the flow of several hormones to your body, anxiety occurs when you feel unsettled or fearful.

Effects of Stress and Anxiety

According to Hegde et al. (2020), the effects of stress and anxiety may include:

  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Reduced cardiovascular health

How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Following a Healthy Diet

If you eat healthy foods, you become a healthier person. Conversely, if you eat unhealthy foods, your body is filled with toxins that reduce metabolism and increases the risk of becoming ill.

Inflammatory and highly processed foods could damage your health. Eating whole foods, such as fish, meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts, and fruits, is important. These foods provide your body with nutrients that improve immune health and reduce disease risk.

Find Your 'Depth of Awareness'

This is one of the most valuable assets. Your depth of awareness can be found by practicing self-care. Self-care helps make your daily life a process of becoming yourself at the most easeful levels of being. Self-care practices include:

  • Practicing a hobby, such as football and swimming
  • Reading a good book that rejuvenates your mind
  • Practicing yoga, which helps fortify the mind and eases body tension
  • Stretching before bed
  • Getting a massage.

Exercising More

It is important to keep your body active continuously. It improves blood circulation, strengthens muscles, and helps in reducing stress and anxiety levels. Gentle activities such as bike riding, walking, and jogging can help reduce stress. You can also join a gym that would push you to be physically and mentally fit.

Minimize Phone Use

Starting your day reactively instead of proactively can dampen your mood and, if not careful, can make you feel continuously stressed about matters out of your control. Start your day proactively. Avoid using your phone immediately when you wake up. Meditate, exercise, or read a book. Have a meal and constantly remind yourself that you are amazing. This helps set your tone for the day, and if you come across something negative online, you'll laugh it off and focus on yourself. Avoid being consumed by envy because of other people's successes.

Practice Deep Breathing

Deep breathing involves abdominal breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. This helps in focusing your awareness on your breath. During stress, your heart beats much faster, and you breathe quicker. Breathing deeply helps control the relaxation response so that you do not act out of control while stressed.

Conclusion

Stress is a natural body response that occurs when you feel threatened or in imminent danger of a real or perceived threat. Anxiety can be caused due to stress and may last longer than stress. Stress symptoms include loneliness, nausea, faster heartbeat, faster breathing, irritability, sadness, and diarrhea. Anxiety symptoms include nervousness, faster heartbeat, faster breathing, constipation, and nervousness. Stress and anxiety can help motivate you to work harder. However, if uncontrolled, it becomes problematic to your health and well-being. There are various ways to manage stress and anxiety. For example, practicing yoga, deep breathing, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep, talking about it, and spending time with nature. Minimizing phone use is a great way of reducing stress since you can connect more with the real world and become more positive and enthusiastic.

References

Bisht, K., Sharma, K., & Tremblay, M. È. (2018). Chronic Stress As A Risk Factor For Alzheimer's Disease: Roles Of Microglia-Mediated Synaptic Remodeling, Inflammation, And Oxidative Stress. Neurobiology Of Stress, 9, 9-21.

Hegde, A., Suresh, S., & Mitra, R. (2020). Early-Life Short-Term Environmental Enrichment Counteracts The Effects Of Stress On Anxiety-Like Behavior, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor And Nuclear Translocation Of Glucocorticoid Receptors In The Basolateral Amygdala. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-13.

Herring, M. P., Monroe, D. C., Gordon, B. R., Hallgren, M., & Campbell, M. J. (2019). Acute Exercise Effects Among Young Adults With Analogue Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise, 51(5), 962.

Ouanes, S., & Popp, J. (2019). High Cortisol And The Risk Of Dementia And Alzheimer's Disease: A Review Of The Literature. Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience, 11, 43.