Stress vs. Anxiety – What Is the Difference?
Very often, the terms “stress” and “anxiety” are used interchangeably to describe an unpleasant feeling in response to events around us. But stress and anxiety are not the same thing, as they describe two very different processes in the human body. Stress refers to our physical and mental responses to changes in our environment, while anxiety is a feeling of apprehension or fear about the future. The difference between stress and anxiety lies in what we are responding to and how we respond to it.
Part of the reason that a lot of people ask what the difference is between stress and anxiety is that the two often feel very similar. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to find yourself anxious about something that is causing you stress, and even more so to be stressed over something that’s making you anxious. When you are feeling stressed, you are responding to something that is happening now; when you feel anxious you are responding to something that hasn’t happened, or hasn’t happened yet.
Stress vs. Anxiety in the Brain
When we feel stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol, which makes its way to the brain to help moderate your mood and maintain healthy blood pressure. Too much of it, however, can disrupt your ability to make memories, rest up, and properly manage your stress response. In the short-term, stress does not pose serious issues for your brain. Prolonged stress, however, can lead to problems with your health.
When we feel anxious, it is common for our brains to react without logic or reason. Normally, your amygdala, which processes danger, sends signals to your prefrontal cortex, which tries to reason its way out of the dangerous situation. Anxiety can add interference in this process, making it harder for your decision-making centers to come up with rational, logical responses to your concerns. This prolongs the anxious response.
You might have noticed that “stress vs. anxiety” isn’t as fair a comparison as it might have seemed at first. One of the biggest differences between stress and anxiety is that stress can be a much bigger physical problem, while anxiety can be a big concern for your mental health.
In both cases, however, the source of your trouble is something that is causing you stress, and identifying that something is one of the best ways to address both problems. Ask yourself what you are worried about and where your stress is coming from. Is there anything you can do to change your circumstances?
If the answer is no, you can look to other, natural solutions. Meditation, for example, is a great way to push back against an anxious response. Healthy eating and lots of sleep are naturally strong barriers to long-term stress. And, of course, eSmartr offers another 100% natural solution in the form of smart compression sleeves, which use touch-based technology to help your brain push past the interference and form strong connections for better focus, reduced stress, and improved memory.
It is important to understand the difference between stress and anxiety before addressing the problems they cause, but the good news is that even though the two are different, a lot of solutions that work for one work for the other – and eSmartr’s smart compression is a great example of this. Understand what you are feeling, understand why you are feeling it, and then you are well on your way to understanding how to feel better.