According to an American Psychological Association survey in 2017, stress levels have increased significantly for the first time in a decade. Much of this is attributed to political polarization but it got me thinking about stress, stress management and anxiety. It seems the term “anxiety” is used interchangeably with “stress” when describing emotional discomfort and the physical and mental effects that can manifest and it seemed like a great time to discuss the two terms and what differentiates them.
This is generally a short-term state of being. When stress is triggered it can cause physical symptoms like rapid hear rate, muscle tension, dizziness, increased sweating and headache. But, stress can be caused by either a positive or negative experience in that some of these physical symptoms can be triggered whether you are either about to give birth or have just been rear-ended. Stress is useful in that it physically alerts us that our fight or flight mechanism is being utilized. This Ted-Talk here https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en gives us some insight on how to positively receive and use general stress positively.
Anxiety can present in much the same way, physically. The difference is that anxiety is being in a state of chronic stress, even once the actual trigger has been relieved and thus becomes a mental disorder since the mind doesn’t have the ability to resolve the symptoms that are being manifested. This causes long term and sometimes severe impact on personal and professional life.
What can you do to manage stress or anxiety?
Remember, unpleasant or uncomfortable feelings are okay to experience and in some cases positive. Our bodies are made to manage them. Stress can be managed well with proper exercise, diet, sleep and mind/body modalities like acupuncture, massage, reiki, yoga, meditation and deep breathing. If you are experiencing stress that you can’t seem to shake off, it’s time to seek help since it could be true anxiety. Your naturopath can help you identify this as well as order labs tests that help identify hormones that if unbalanced due to long-term, unresolved stress or anxiety can be treated with supplementation, homeopathics and any of the modalities we’ve already talked about. Here’s another great resource if you’d like to know about stress and anxiety https://www.psycom.net/stress-vs-anxiety-difference .