The 3 Major Differences Between Stress and Anxiety

· November 1, 2017
While anxiety comes from the inside, stress is external. Learn more about the major differences between stress and anxiety in this article.

Many confuse anxiety and stress and think they’re the same thing. But today we’ll uncover some major differences between the two and clear it up once and for all.

Anxiety is a reaction that comes from worries, thoughts about the past or negative experiences that are still present currently.

On the other hand, stress is usually the product of external pressure, like what you might have at work.

As opposed to anxiety, it can even be positive, making you more productive and helping you get things done (however this is not always how it goes!).

The differences between anxiety and stress

1. Stress and anxiety have different origins

stressed woman

One of the biggest differences between stress and anxiety is that they have different triggers, even if at first it seems like it’s the same.

Anxiety comes through a sensation of fear that is usually irrational. (For example, fear of losing your loved one, fear of being alone, or fear of failure.)

Stress, on the other hand, appears when you feel overwhelmed by obligations and think you aren’t going to be able to do it all.

It can also come when you don’t have everything you need to do a daily task well. (For example, having enough time to dress your kids for school before you go to work).

2. Anxiety is actually a symptom of stress

anxious girl

The confusion between stress and anxiety stems from the fact that the second is a symptom of the first. However, this is only true in specific cases.

As we mentioned before, stress is something that happens at a point in time. It tends to come and go. However, there is actually something called “chronic stress.”

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When you can’t manage to shake this stress, it keeps you from sleeping, and leads to obsessive thoughts and problems at home. Then, anxiety can appear as a product of stress.

When anxiety turns into a symptom of stress, it comes with serious tiredness, emotional fatigue, lack of motivation, and even depression.

3. Social pressure leads to stress; beliefs lead to anxiety

anxious woman

Another major difference between stress and anxiety is that anxiety is a result of beliefs that make up the perspective with which you see the world.

For example, if there’s a belief in your family that all men abandon women, any time you’re with your boyfriend or husband, your fear that this will happen could turn into anxiety. This anxiety can lead to certain behaviors, like being controlling, not trusting him, always wanting to be with him, etc.

This behavior could cause the other person to distance themselves, which will increase my anxiety.

The solution? You have to change your beliefs.

“Read this too: 6 Eating Habits that Cause Anxiety and Depression


Living without stress and anxiety: is it possible?


Now that we’ve looked at the differences between stress and anxiety as well as the contexts that can lead to them, you may wonder: Can you live without stress and anxiety?

The answer is “no.” However, what you can do is lessen the triggers.

At the same time, you can’t forget that both stress and anxiety have a positive side. Anxiety is a state of alert that encourages you to review something in your mind (worries, beliefs) that should be changed.

Changing your perspective on things, and letting go of beliefs that aren’t actually yours can help you set down that burden that’s been weighing on you.

“Before you go, don’t miss: 13 Easy Strategies to Free Your Mind and Manage Your Emotions

Meanwhile, stress is sometimes actually very positive because it gets you going. It makes you more productive, and even helps you meet deadlines.

However, the stress should not be drawn out. Make sure it is only a point in time and doesn’t become a part of your regular life.