When Stress turns into Anxiety
Updated: Mar 31
We often hear the phrase “I am stressed” So what is the difference between anxiety and stress?
We live in a fast paced society where productivity is glorified. The more you do, the more you’re worth: This is the message we get regularly. But this comes at a price: STRESS! And when we accumulate too much stress, it can turn into Anxiety. Anxiety may stay with you even when the stressful situation is over.
It is essential to be aware of how stress leads to anxiety and how to overcome the nervousness to prevent it from interfering with daily activities. For example, if you’re a student, understanding that under-preparation for a test causes stress helps in studying in advance to avoid the horror and worry of failing the exam. Failing an exam may result in trauma, causing you to panic every time you are in the exam room, despite being prepared.
Symptoms of Anxiety
When stress turns in to anxiety, here are the common symptoms to look out for, to get early interventions:
Consistent panic even when you are not sure of the problem
Significant changes in eating patterns and weight
Easily irritated when in a specific environment
Problem sleeping or oversleeping
Avoiding important activities
Sweating in social situations
Fear of impending doom
Loss of concentration
Impact of Anxiety on Health
Excessive exposure to stress-related anxiety may lead to the following health issues:
Panic Attack Disorder
High Blood Pressure
Several changes in life cause stress and eventually could lead to anxiety:
Starting work or school in a new environment
Taking care of an unwell family member
Death in the family or social circle
Starting a new relationship
Relocating to a new area
However, this does not mean that you should never relocate or look for a new job, but keep in mind these situations do cause stress, and it’s important to do something to ease that stress. If you don’t, the stress can potentially turn into anxiety.
There are people in society who are highly susceptible to developing anxiety during stressful situations, and these include drug users and persons exposed to chronic illness medication. For instance, stimulation from smoking, caffeine addiction, cocaine and/or alcohol dependency make those more vulnerable to experiencing anxiety symptoms. Using stimulants to deal with stress may also result in anxiety when the drugs are not available as it becomes difficult to calm down or deal with the problem. Thyroid prescription, asthma-based inhalers, and diet medication also increase the heart rate and accelerate the symptoms while reducing the ability to cope.
When to Seek Help
Since stressful events happen regularly, it is essential to distinguish between a temporary stressful experience and prolonged anxiety-related issues. When worry is excessive and gets in the way of completing tasks (procrastination), fears become unbearable, phobias cause a halt in daily tasks, you may want to consider help In more heightened situations, anxiety may cause suicidal thoughts, ideas on how to harm the self, excessive reliance on alcohol and drugs, which may prompt the immediate need of mental health help.
How to Not let Stress turn into Anxiety:
Preventing stress from becoming anxiety involves taking care of your body, habits, and mental health to improve your ability to get over challenging situations that may eventually become a trigger. Preventative measures include the following:
Healthy Dieting: Eat fruits, vegetables, lean meat and healthy fats and anything that is good and nourishes your body.
Minimizing or Eliminating Caffeine and Drug use: Excessive use of caffeine can create feelings of agitation, which causes more stress on the body. Any consumption of drugs can cause nervousness once the high is over, so drugs provide a temporary relief but then creates a bigger problem.
Getting Adequate Sleep: Sometimes you just need to rest a little, and that may ease the stress. So long as you do not sleep more than 8 hours a day. Sleep is crucial to maintain the nervous system as calm as possible.
Meditation: Time and time again, meditation has proven that it can lead to a more peaceful mind.
Exercise: Keeping your body active helps you build more endorphins, which is the hormone for happiness and positive feelings.
Monitoring your Feelings by Journaling: Journaling helps with relieving stress and also to get to know yourself. It may even help pinpoint the exact thing that triggers your stress.
Talk to a friend or loved one: Telling another person about your stress can be helpful so that you don’t feel alone in dealing with the situation. Make sure that whomever you share your situation with is a positive person that provides positive feedback.
Talking to Professional: Sometimes discussing stress management strategies with a professional can help, as you will get guidance on other useful interventions to explore during stressful events and to avoid anxiety.
Like I said before, we experience stress regularly, and that’s okay. The problem lies that when we prolong stressful situations or we do not take measures to ease the stress it can lead to anxiety. Listen to your body and mind.
Your Therapy Friend,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Perinatal & Relationships Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationship with their children and significant other. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Perinatal Mental Health Certified Professional, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter and son, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.infinitetherapeuticservices.com and follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/