Life can feel overwhelming from time to time, and stress and anxiety are widespread occurrences in our modern lives. Do you find yourself coping with persistent stress, worry or anxious thoughts? Then it could be a sign it’s time to tackle those.
You might recognise the feeling of your heart rate and body temperature rising before having to speak in front of a group of people. Stress is our body and mind’s response to external pressure or challenges.
Contrary to common beliefs, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Stress is actually an effective tool for our body to keep us away from danger, by triggering a ‘fight or flight’ mode. But in modern life, your stress response can easily be triggered by other situations than direct danger.
When you experience stress, your body’s initial response will be to produce the ‘stress hormones’ adrenaline and cortisol. They cause more blood to go to your heart and muscles. Your brain receives the message that you’re in a ‘dangerous situation,’ causing a heightened stress response.
What is the difference between stress and anxiety?
Stress is often a response to an event or a situation, preparing your body for action. Anxiety, however, is a persistent feeling of unease or apprehension. This feeling may cause a constant flow of worries that do not subside, even when you are not experiencing a particularly stressful situation.
Although stress and anxiety often have similar bodily reactions and symptoms, they do differ significantly. Whereas stress stems from an external cause, anxiety often surfaces without an external factor triggering it, and lingers for a much longer period.
Challenges with stress and anxiety you may face
If you find yourself struggling with questions like these, it can be helpful to tackle the factors which cause your stress:
- “I often worry about the future”
- “At the weekends, I find it hard to switch off and enjoy my free time”
- “I feel so stressed that I’m sometimes scared I will break down”
The Impact of Stress on Your Mental Well-Being
While a certain level of stress can be motivating, chronic stress and anxiety can take a toll on your mental well-being. Excessive stress and anxiety can lead to a range of mental well-being challenges, including reduced happiness, disrupted sleep, and strained relationships. They can also contribute to more severe conditions such as depression and burnout.
Learning to manage stress and anxiety is essential for maintaining a positive mental well-being. Although we can’t influence the amount of stress we face in life, we can (try to) change our response to it.