The difference between anxiety, stress and tension

Stress has been linked to up to 75% of disease, but that doesn’t mean all stress is negative or bad for you. In fact, a certain amount of stress helps motivate you and keeps you on your toes. It’s when stress reaches high levels, or is persistent that it becomes dangerous! Here’s how you can deal with it effectively.

Is there a difference between stress, anxiety and tension?
It’s ease to think of stress, anxiety and tension as the same thing, but the states that they describe are actually very different.

Anxiety refers to a state of being anxious about danger and being overly concerned about the future. Anxiety is not usually linked to a specific person, situation or experience – it’s a vague, undefined, tense feeling of dread which is difficult to control.

Stress refers to an effort or demand on a person’s physical or mental energy. Stress produces the same feelings as anxiety, but is usually linked to a specific person, situation or experience that one fears.

Tension, on the other hand, refers to mental strain or excitement, a strained state or relationship. If the symptoms are experienced acutely, it’s referred to as a panic attack.

What all these definitions have in common is that individuals experience excessive uneasiness.

How to de-stress
Stress becomes detrimental when you start feeling as though you have no control over the situation. A healthy person isn’t someone who’s free of problems, but rather someone who’s able to deal with them. If you find yourself faced with a task that seems impossible, try breaking it up into manageable stages and then tackle each one individually.

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Change how you see the problem
If you define a problem as overwhelming, it’ll appear impossible to solve – also, if you think about a problem on your own, you only have one point of view. A friend, colleague or family member can help give you a different perspective and potential solution to the problem.

Learn to ride the wave
When you bottle your feelings up, your body is kept in a state of “readiness”, your adrenalin pumps and your heart rate increases. Your body can’t keep this up over an extended period of time, and eventually it gives in. This is why it’s so important to release pent up emotions – whether you keep a journal or practice yoga and meditation, it’s up to you.

Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com