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.