Stress and anxiety may have a similar physical effect on the body, but the causes and triggers vary in many ways.
Comparatively, anxiety stems from fear of something bad that may occur in the future. You may experience feelings in the moment, such as fear, dread, or nervousness as if the perceived threat is occurring or will occur.
One of the main differences is that stress is often caused by an external trigger, while anxiety does not go away even when the triggers are gone. Though physical and emotional reactions may be similar, their root causes differ. Anxiety can be a person's response to a stressful event. Once the event has passed, the stress will have gone away, but the person's feelings of dread and worry may remain.
Common Stress Triggers:
· Job issues
· Lack of time
· Chronic illness
· Emotional problems
· Traumatic events
· Lack of communication
· Busyness in daily life
Not-So-Common Stress Triggers:
· Memory problems
o It can be hard to focus when you are stressed as the brain moves every day and present stressors and hormones to the front of the line.
· Skin conditions
o Stress can lead to major breakouts in our skin in the form of acne, hives, rashes, and more. This can cause insecurity about the skin and, therefore, even more stress.
o Stress can make it more difficult to get pregnant. This can be due to a man's or a woman's stress response.
o Stress can cause an increase in the amount of stomach acid you produce, leading to stomach pain and digestive issues.
o Your body may take longer to relax, leading to a decrease in the amount of sleep one gets.
Common Anxiety Triggers:
· Lack of sleep
· Unbalanced diet
· Health issues
· Social gatherings
· Life transitions
· Financial issues
· Work environment
Not-So-Common Anxiety Triggers
o Whether temporary or chronic, anxiety can lead to stomach pain, diarrhea, heartburn, and burping.
· Physical numbness
o One may feel a tingling or even vibration in their body. This has also been described as a loss of sensation or feeling in a part of the body.
· Excessive yawning
o Frequent yawning can stem from a lack of oxygen in panic situations when hyperventilation occurs.
o Tremors can come in the form of shaking, cramping, trembling, and more. Anxiety can cause tremors in many situations.
· Disconnect from reality
o Anxiety can cause a distorted reality in which individuals lack a sense of time, space, and things going on around them.
· Eye issues
o Anxiety can lead to distorted vision, watery eyes, and floating shapes.
· Cold feet
o Anxiety can decrease circulation in our bodies, creating a cold sensation in our hands and feet.
Common Ways to Cope with Stress:
· Developing proper sleep hygiene by ensuring you get in bed early enough so that you can get a full night's rest, washing your face and brushing your teeth, not having caffeine after 3pm, and reducing screen time before you are laying down.
· Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy, such as bike riding, dancing, walking, or yoga, and set aside time every day or a few times a week to engage in this activity which has been proven to reduce stress and aid in strengthening your mental health.
· Starting a daily journal and using this journal to vent about your day, talk about your innermost thoughts and feelings, and express your emotions. You can also write down affirmations in this journal, reminding you of something motivational and inspirational each time you open it.
· Setting boundaries in both your personal and professional life since boundaries are an important way of allowing yourself space to deal with your feelings and to avoid being overwhelmed. Set boundaries at work by not working beyond your hours and expressing when you are overwhelmed with an assignment and need help. Set boundaries in your personal life by telling your family members, partner, or friends what is okay and what is not okay.
· Setting limits on daily social media intake because it can become toxic when consumed in large quantities. Many people express their opinions on social media, leading to anxiety, stress, and depression. Set a specific amount of time you should spend on social media daily, and try your best to stick to this.
Not-So-Common Ways to Cope with Stress:
· Painting your nails
o This requires some time and attention. Self-care is important, and not everyone takes the time they should to do it!
· Wearing a rubber band around your wrist
o Some people snap a rubber band when feeling stressed to associate a slight pinch with stress.
· Drinking orange juice
o Orange juice is a great source of Vitamin C and can lower cortisol levels.
· Chewing gum
· Doing some art
o Creative therapy can relax and clear the mind.
· Having sex
o Sex releases endorphins and can leave you with a better attitude than before.
· Blowing up a balloon
o This forces you to work on your deep breathing when stressed.
Common Ways to Cope with Anxiety:
· Closing your eyes and controlling your breathing.
· Splashing some cold water on your face or holding an ice cube in your hand to change your body temperature and redirect your attention away from the mental feeling and towards the physical.
· Going for a walk outside and getting fresh air.
· Thinking about what you would tell a friend if they were feeling anxious.
· Reminding yourself that your fears are just fears and not reality.
· Thinking of the last time this happened and how it passed.
· Putting on a television show, favorite song, or movie to distract yourself as the anxiety passes.
· Talking to someone nearby or calling them on the phone— someone who can distract you or make you laugh.
· Taking a warm bath with essential oils.
· Petting an animal or a furry blanket/pillow.
· Finding your safe space. This can be a bedroom, bathroom, patio, or even your car. Going to the place you feel safe and secure.
· Crying! When you let it out, you can feel a sense of relief, releasing happy chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good.
· Carrying around a small notepad with motivational and inspirational quotes. Reading one of these quotes can reassure you that it will be okay in times of true fear.
Not-So-Common Ways to Cope with Anxiety:
· Listening to music
o Music is another form of creative therapy that keeps the mind in tune with enjoyable sounds.
· Blowing up a balloon
o This can work for anxiety too!
· Recognizing false alarms and trying to be present in the moment.
Summer depression is also known as Summer-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or reverse SAD. Summer SAD affects individuals and creates depressive feelings and depression symptoms, specifically during the late spring and summertime.
Summer depression has been noted to be more common than winter SAD in locations near the equator due to the weather. Areas with recurring seasons are likely to experience summer SAD because of the change in weather, schedules, and lifestyle during the summer season.
SAD can occur during any season. Characteristics that may describe spring SAD as opposed to summer SAD often include but are not limited to environmental factors causing allergies, longer days, and warmer weather.
Some main signs and symptoms of summer depression include irritability, anxiety, disrupted sleep, and body image issues. These symptoms usually pop up during the late spring or early summer and fade as summer comes to an end. However, seasonal depression is year-round, and although summer may end, fall SAD may have an effect on individuals.
One potential cause of summer depression includes exposure to too much sunlight, which causes changes in one’s body’s circadian rhythm. When our circadian rhythms become dysregulated, our sleep is thrown off, and it can play an integral role in aspects of our physical and mental health. Another possibility is the disrupted schedules of summer that change up our routine. This can cause anxiety and stress due to the lack of structure and unplanned schedule for each day. A final cause of summer depression is the lesser amount of clothing worn, which could lead to body image issues and a decrease in self-esteem in social situations.
The diagnosis of summer depression requires present symptoms for a two-year period and full criteria for depression during the summer season. Summer depression can be diagnosed by medical professionals, including a healthcare provider, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist.
Recurring symptoms must be experienced for at least two years to get a formal diagnosis.
Treatments for summer depression include:
Seeking professional help such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in treating SAD. Having a therapy session with a Mental Health Professional can provide individuals with a place to talk openly and help encourage positive emotions. Additionally, meeting with a Psychiatrist or Medication Management Specialist can allow individuals to evaluate the medications available to reduce or mitigate symptoms of SAD.
Plan ahead: When spring rolls around, think about what is difficult for you during the summer and have plans in place to challenge these forces. Make time to have self-care days, plan fun events and activities that are worth your money, and create a new summertime routine.
Sleep: Try your best to keep up with your regular sleep schedule during the summer.
Keep up with exercise: Find ways to exercise that benefit you, even if that means working out inside or early in the morning. Try whatever it takes to remain motivated during the summer months.
Take a vacation: Vacations can be far away or at home. Plan a time and place that will feel relaxing, not like you took the day off to take on more responsibilities.
Signs of inadequate or poor sleep hygiene include: low energy, lack of motivation, daytime sleepiness, inability to concentrate, mood swings, poor decisions, difficulty falling asleep, and sleep disturbances.
Poor sleep hygiene can have a negative effect on your overall quality of life. Without sleep you can experience multiple symptoms including constant tiredness that further impacts your life on a daily basis.
Some ways to practice proper sleep hygiene include:
1. Reading an hour before bed can allow the mind to relax and decompress from daily stressors.
2. Reduce your screen time to at least 1.5 hours before you go to bed because staring at the screen can keep your mind racing and your eyes stimulated.
3. Wash your face, brush your teeth, and get comfortable in a good position in bed a half hour before you go to sleep.
4. Develop a consistent routine so your body knows what to expect each night.
5. Exercise regularly but be sure to not do this at least 2-3 hours before you are ready to go to sleep.
Results can vary based on consistency and amount of effort put into following proper sleep hygiene steps. Additionally, if not other caused by another medical condition, you may experience better sleep as soon as 1-2 days after practicing sleep hygiene.
Do not have caffeine after 3pm since caffeine is a stimulant which can keep you awake or interrupt your sleep.
Try to wake at the same time every day, even if you have off from work.
Avoid large meals and alcohol later in the day. If your stomach is full, you will not be able to rest comfortably.
It is time to reach out to a professional if you are constantly having trouble sleeping over a period of time and can see it affecting your everyday life. A physician can help by offering medication to help with sleeping better or sleep clinics can help diagnose and narrow down specific sleeping disorders and other sleep issues. A therapist can help treat other psychological underlying issues that may get in the way of experiencing a good night’s rest.
Some misconceptions about sleep hygiene include: your body gets used to getting fewer hours of sleep, you need less sleep as you get older, it doesn't matter when you sleep, your brain shuts down when you are asleep, and if you cannot sleep you should stay in bed.