Stress vs. Anxiety

I’ve had people ask me before if I think stress and anxiety are the same thing. I say no. Because I’ve experienced both emotions, and how I respond to each of the two is different.

With stress, you can typically distinguish what the source of stress is. It’s more tangible so to speak. A work deadline, a school paper, a life event, an argument, etc. To me stress has a hurdle, and once you pass it, the stress level goes down.

Stress is a little more logical but everyone responds to it differently. What stresses some out, doesn’t stress others out.  Some are able to turn it off completely.

This morning I was feeling rushed & late on my way to run a 5K. {By late I mean I was arriving 15 min before the start time. But still had to get my stuff, go pee, etc}. It stresses me out every time. But it’s got an expiration point. Once 8 AM hits, I either made it on time or didn’t. Good news is I did! Stressed yes, but manageable.

Chris and I are working on purchasing property to build a house. Exciting, yes! But also can be stressful. All the I’s to dot, T’s to cross and making sure everything goes accordingly can be stressful for me. But I know what specifically is stressing me out. And in those scenarios I am usually pretty good with ‘it is what it is’ and being able to take the next step.

Stress has a circumstance. And often amongst the circumstance you can find ways to lessen it, or remove yourself from it temporarily. But anxiety just follows you until it peaks.  You can’t remove yourself from anxiety. Because you don’t really know what it is you are trying to escape, even for 5 minutes.

Anxiety is less tangible. When I’m going through it I have a hard time communicating it. Because you just can’t get to the source of it. Anything and everything at that point is overwhelming. You’re fearful. You’re afraid to let your mind rest because you haven’t figured anything out. You’re afraid to go to sleep, because what if tomorrow is just as bad?

There isn’t always a rational thought to it. And I can’t tell you what circumstance spurred it. The overwhelming thoughts just take over.

Anxiety is the source of your stress. You just need to wrap your head around it. You need to figure out the circumstance. So you can then address it, control it. It’s the worst feeling because you don’t know what the ‘problem’ is.  You are helpless to yourself.

So for me, anxiety and stress are not the same emotion. I may let more things stress me out than the typical person, but I am able to handle it because I know the circumstance for it. I can tell you what is stressing me out. I can’t tell you what the hell sets off an anxiety attack.

45 thoughts on “Stress vs. Anxiety”

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