Stress vs. Anxiety


Stress and anxiety are two conditions that are often used interchangeably, but are in fact very different from one another. If you feel as though you have a mentally taxing condition and are looking for the correct way to describe it to your health care provider, knowing the difference between stress and anxiety can help you correctly represent your feelings so you can get the right treatment for your condition.


Stress is the normal physical response that you have to different, demanding stimuli. Stress is your body's response system to help protect you. It causes the release of adrenaline, which allows you to make snap decisions, meet challenges and give you extra alertness.


Anxiety can sometimes be caused by stress, but it is a different type of condition altogether. Anxiety can be compared more closely with fear than stress. When you feel anxiety about something, you engage in a physical response to stimuli that makes you feel afraid or as though you can't face something.

Ways to Reduce Stress

1.) Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
2.) Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
3.) Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
4.) Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
5.) Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
6.) Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
7.) Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
8.) Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
9.) Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
10.) Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
11.) Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
12.) Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you.

Do you need some help managing your stress and/or anxiety? Consider making an appointment to talk with a counselor at the Counseling Center (540-568-6552).

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Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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