We may use them interchangeably, and they certainly go hand in hand, but stress and anxiety are not exactly one in the same. Yes, both can cause similar physical reactions to some extent, but like the chicken and the egg, which comes first? To this particular question, we have an answer: The stress.
Stress is our body’s physical reaction to events in our lives. Stress can be both positive and negative; even positive life changes can be stressful, and our bodies respond in the same manner. When we react to stress, our body releases chemicals into our blood stream, giving us energy and strength. This is sometimes what people refer to as “fight or flight,” our adrenaline spiked from the stress we feel. Stress is also extremely common; 3 out of 4 people say they experience stress as often as twice a month.
Anxiety occurs when you develop chronic stress that lasts for 6 months or longer, or during an extreme response to stress. The physical symptoms of anxiety are often similar to that in stress, and if not dealt with, you could develop an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is usually defined as irrational fear or excessive worry about events or factors in your life.
Squash stress before anxiety even sets in. Work on reducing the stress factors in your life, and take time to pursue enjoyable activities that keep you relaxed and positive. Early treatment of heavy stress is the best way to avoid developing generalized anxiety disorder.