Stress and Anxiety

What is the difference between stress and anxiety?

A plan to address mental health correctly is important. Both stress and anxiety have common symptoms. Broken sleep, feelings of overwhelm and rapid breathing. The causes for stress and anxiety are actually different, meaning a relevant treatment will be needed, depending on your issue.

Anxiety is caused by fear. The mind fears a negative outcome, not being enough and rejection. When you solve a stressful problem it goes away but anxiety is different; it continues after the stressor has been dealt with.

I could be resting on the couch and suddenly experience anxiety about work. My mind is in the future and a different location. I’m worried about something not happening now. Anxiety then, is outside of present time.

Continuing with the work example, I could be concerned about attending a meeting with my employer. When I am in a frustrating conversation, that is an example of stress. If I worry about it for 5 hours prior, I’m not even present in the meeting (you get the idea), that is anxiety.

Anxiety occurs somewhere you are not and some time you are not.


Characteristics of anxiety

All people have some of these characteristics. A highly anxious person is challenged significantly and is overwhelmed.

  • Fearful of the future. Fear of the unknown.
  • Highly nervous at any time or specific situations.
  • Not feeling safe at work, home or with health.
  • Obsessiveness about others safety.
  • Worried about what others are thinking. Manipulates people.
  • An inner conflict between right and wrong.
  • A deep sense of inequality/injustice/unfairness.
  • Overwhelmed with needing to be good/perfect/selfless.
  • Belief that something is wrong with you.
  • Difficulty in letting go of control.
  • Putting things off. Inaction. Difficulty making decisions.
  • Worry about being judged as wrong, not enough and unworthy.
  • Ruminating on thoughts, particularly mistakes from the past.
  • Pessimistic. Expecting the worst with no evidence to back it up.
  • Using addiction to food, alcohol and cigarettes to avoid unwanted feelings.
  • OCD, nail biting and compulsions to avoid unwanted feelings.
  • Taking responsibility for other people’s emotions and problems.

Anxiety manifests in many ways and feels like an internal battle. It can happen anytime and to anyone. The fear is often not in proportion to the stressor. It is wise to become conscious of anxious patterns and challenge them in a safe way. You can master anxiety with confidence, mindfulness and self-acceptance.


Characteristics of stress

Stress is caused by problems that are occurring here and now. Examples of these are: Work pressure, a running injury and relationship conflict, outside your comfort zone. Stress subsides once the situation is complete and your nervous system has a chance to equilibrate.

Overwhelm means you have taken on too much responsibility physically and mentally. Becoming free of stress and anxiety can take work but is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

Imagine an empty mind, a body relaxed and at ease and looking forward to the future.

Useful strategies for stress reduction could include: Solving problems, removing yourself from the source of stress and grounding


  1. Attempting to solve the stressful problem is ideal. Take a step each day to work through it. Help may be needed on complex issues.
  2. Removing yourself from stress can shift things quickly. With a career example I could reduce workload, leave a toxic environment and do different hours that suit my lifestyle.
  3. Getting grounded once per day reduces overall stress levels. Spend 1 hour by the water, listen to music, meditate, rest or do tai chi. Choose a grounding activity you enjoy.


When the mind is worrying about so many things, transform the anxiety into a present moment action. Ask these quality questions and follow through on the answer. Care for yourself in the present moment. What does my body need today? Is it sleep? Do I require self-nurturing? Am I having regular healthy meals? 

Anxiety is thinking about what is NOT here and now. When you get present and love yourself, you are out of the anxious bubble.



Being free of judgement

Remember not to judge yourself while learning to control anxiety. Give yourself the space to practice mindfulness techniques. No one is perfect when trying something new. Be okay with you, while making a life change. Gaining new knowledge and taking action, means you are way ahead of those who are still procrastinating.

If the problem goes away when resolved, it was stress. If the problem persists with fear, judgement and affects your self-esteem, that is anxiety.

The difference between stress and anxiety is much. Spend reflection time to work out what you are dealing with. An appropriate treatment can shorten recovery, which means you can get back to living life. Confidential appointments are available for your specific anxiety, compulsion or addiction.

Book a mindfulness and hypnotherapy appointment