Life today can be overwhelming and whether you’re a high-powered corporate lawyer or stay-at-home Mom, we all deal with levels of stress and anxiety in very different ways. Some minimal amount of stress is healthy as it pushes us to make positive changes in our lives, but excessive levels of stress over an extended period of time can lead to anxiety. Chronic stress can lead to everything from high blood pressure and chest pain to skin rashes and severe headaches, but how can you tell when stress spills over and becomes true anxiety?
Stressors Come and Go
Our lives are full of stress: Will we get the kids to school on time? Will we be awake enough after staying up late at the football field to contribute in that big meeting? What if your relationships or friendships are suffering because all your good energy for the day goes to a work project that won’t end? Stress is a normal part of life that causes the mechanism that raises your pulse, makes your muscles tense and shoots adrenaline into our systems. Light levels of stress and even momentary anxiety should not interfere with living a normal life–but they very often do. Relationships and life transitions are some of the key stressors that women feel most strongly, and these ongoing triggers can cause a loss of enjoyment in life over a long period of time.
Personal Stress Reactions
Some individuals strive in a stressful, deadline-driven environment while others become paralyzed to the point of being unable to act. However, the common theme is that stressors come and go, and once the stressor is reduced, your stress level should lessen as well. Stress is stress–with or without kids, married or single–we all have different levels of how much stress we can tolerate. Awareness of how much stress you are carrying on a day-to-day basis can be helpful in assessing how you are managing the load. Therapists can help you find the tools that you need to manage your stressors and reduce your overall level of stress and anxiety.
An overloaded of stress on your body can lead to anxiety–a much stronger and potentially longer-term situation. Excessive anxiety is defined as a feeling of anxiousness even in the absence of external stressors, or when anxious feelings are very severe or prolonged. Stress hormones are released into the system for longer periods of time and can cause strong physical reactions such as:
• Inability to concentrate
• Rapid heartbeat
• Feelings of being out of control
Causes of Anxiety
While extended periods of stress can cause anxiety, there are any number of external factors that can contribute to these feelings as well. A poor diet that lacks the essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs can throw off your internal balance, and starting (or stopping!) certain prescription medications such as diet pills, thyroid medication, antidepressants and even decongestants can cause you to spiral into a cycle of anxiety. Anxiety is more akin to fear than to stress, but you can work through both stress and anxiety by speaking with a qualified counselor.
You don’t have to be perfect all the time–and you truly deserve to be happy.
Are you ready to reduce your anxiety and take the first steps towards returning to a healthy relationship with your stressors?
Find peace, joy and a new love for life by working through some of the feelings that have been getting in your way.
Sources: https://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/depression-stress-anxiety/how-is-anxiety-different-from-stress/, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/15/anxiety-stress-difference_n_1152590.html, https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/stress