What's the Difference Between Stress and Anxiety?

We hear the words stress and anxiety all the time in our lives: blasted on social and traditional media, and uttered by our friends and our families, too. While they are often used interchangeably, stress and anxiety are not the same thing. 

is a psychological response to something external, like a big test coming up or a blow out fight with a friend. Being stressed can generate feelings of anger or tiredness, it can cause stomach aches or interfere with sleep.*

Anxiety is the psychological response to a threat or trigger that isn’t actually there. If you were being chased by a bear, that would be stressful; if the bear was long-gone but you were still thinking about how it felt to be chased, that’s anxiety. Or, for a more real-world example: studying for and taking a test is a common source of stress, but once the test is over, then any lingering worries about your grade or the questions you missed can be called anxiety. Anxiety refers to the feelings - both emotional and physical - that come in response to a stressor that’s no longer present. When we’re anxious, we can’t seem to get our worries to stop, even after the event has passed. Anxiety looks and feels a lot like stress, which is probably why so many people seem to use them interchangeably.*

Click here to learned more about coping with stress and anxiety


Reading next

boy sitting on couch hiding under pillows
Woman meditating on a yoga mat with dog next to her

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.