Does stress lead to anxiety? (+7 Coping strategies)
This info-rich article will be discussing if stress leads to anxiety. We will also be listing the differences between stress and anxiety. In addition to this, we will be checking out the other effects of stress on the body, and also a few ways to cope with stress-causing anxiety.
Does stress lead to anxiety?
Yes, stress leads to anxiety. This is especially if the stress is being experienced for a long time. Stress is part of the body’s natural fight and flight responses which come in to play in the midst of certain trigger factors.
While a normal amount of stress can be handled quite easily and may also push you forward in life, chronic stress which can be too hard to handle can lead to anxiety. This anxiety can be experienced through physical symptoms like headaches, palpitations or excessive sweating.
Differences between stress and anxiety
While some people tend to use the words ‘stress’ and ‘anxiety’ pretty interchangeably, these conditions are actually quite different even if they do share a lot of the same symptoms. The actual differences between stress and anxiety have been discussed as follows.
- Stress is often experienced as a short-term feeling while anxiety is known to be a lingering feeling. Thus, if the stress is experienced over a long period of time, it gradually turns into anxiety.
- Stress is often triggered by some clear causal factor. On the other hand, anxiety does not need the main causal factor and can be triggered by nothing at all. This is another main difference between stress and anxiety.
- Stress can cause social problems in the person, while anxiety might not instantly do that. When a person is feeling stressed, they also feel very lonely even if they are in the presence of others. This is often not seen in anxiety.
- During periods of stress, the person may also feel highly irritable and even angry at external situations. In anxiety, these feelings might not be present all the time and there is more fear experienced than anger.
- Due to stress, the person may also experience physical symptoms like issues in digestion and even headaches. In anxiety, physical symptoms such as these may be absent and instead more mental turmoil may be experienced.
Effects of stress on the body
Other than bringing anxiety, stress can also have many other effects on a person. This is the reason why health professionals encourage people to immediately remove stress factors. A few effects that stress, especially chronic stress, can have on the body are explained below.
It leads to the fight or flight response
The fight or flight response is meant to help us cope with dangerous situations. In times of stress, the levels of adrenaline in the blood are constantly at a high and this can lead to an increased heart rate and blood pressure. In chronic stress, this effect is felt at all times.
It can reduce immunity levels
What a lot of people do not realize is that chronic stress can negatively impact the immunity levels of a person. While short term stress may increase the immunity levels, chronic stress can reduce a person’s ability to cope with infections.
It can make breathing very difficult
During periods of high stress, the breathing pattern of the person can also change. The person may start breathing a lot faster and this can also increase the heart rate. Not only the respiratory muscles, but even the cardiac muscles can get fatigued from this.
It can lead to pain and fatigue
High levels of stress experienced for a long time can make the person’s muscles fatigued and strained. This is mainly because the muscles are always in a state of tension during the fight or flight response. This can make the person feel tired throughout the day.
It can create digestive problems
Apart from respiratory issues and muscle fatigue, chronic levels of stress can also lead to problems in digestion. For instance, the person may experience acid reflux or ulcers. They may also develop type 2 diabetes as a result of struggling with chronic stress.
It can disrupt sex lives
The sex life of the person may also be disrupted as a result of chronic stress. In men, this may manifest as erectile dysfunction. On the other hand, in women it may be demonstrated as decreased lubrication and irregular menstrual cycles.
It can lead to eating disorders
Stress can also change the appetite levels of the person. Some people may tend to eat a lot more than usual in a pattern called stress-eating. Others may stay away from food entirely as they have lost their appetite. Eating disorders, thus, often stem from chronic stress.
It can create problems in cognition
Not only physically, but chronic stress can lead to problems in cognition. The person may find themselves constantly distracted and therefore, their performance at work may dip. They may also be unable to remember things properly and may also misplace things easily.
How to cope with stress-causing anxiety?
While short-term stress may be healthy, chronic stress can lead to a lot of damage and can cause immense anxiety. Some ways to cope with stress-causing anxiety have been discussed in the following section of the post.
- Eat a healthy diet. If you are experiencing a lot of stress, your diet may also be a reason to blame. By eating a healthy diet, you will be improving your digestion and also helping your immunity which can help in reversing the effects of stress.
- Get some regular exercise. Regular physical exercise can also be useful when you are dealing with stress. At the same time, you need to understand that too much exercise or taking part in exercise that you don’t like can lead to more stress.
- Try mindfulness activities. Mindfulness activities can also help in reducing stress levels when practiced regularly. Mindfulness activities come in a lot of variety and can help you focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or the future.
- Socialize in a healthy manner. Socializing in a healthy manner can also help in reducing stress levels. By surrounding yourself with positive people who help you grow, you will be able to keep your trigger factors at bay.
- Try journaling every day. Journaling can also be a very healthy activity for reducing stress levels. Journaling can help in healthy venting and expression that is necessary for letting go of stress.
- Learn new skills. When you learn new skills, you keep exposing yourself to new stressors which take you out of your comfort zone. This automatically trains your body and mind to be prepared for any type of difficulty which can help in reducing stress levels.
The new skills referred to can be anything that you like. For example, if you have always wanted to learn to play the piano when you were a kid, taking piano classes can help in boosting your skillset and also your self-esteem.
- Go to therapy. Therapy can also help in reducing your stress levels. Talking to a therapist is not only a great way to healthily vent and express your thoughts and feelings, but can also help you understand yourself better.
In these therapy sessions, you will be able to even find new coping strategies and techniques which are fully therapist-recommended. Not only individual therapy sessions, but even group therapy sessions can be helpful in dealing with stress.
This info-rich article has discussed if stress leads to anxiety. We have also listed the differences between stress and anxiety. In addition to this, we have checked out the other effects of stress on the body, and also a few ways to cope with stress-causing anxiety.
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