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Stress – Can’t live with it, can’t live without it

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

From the outside looking in, it can be difficult to spot the differences between stress and anxiety. Both can lead to sleepless nights, exhaustion, excessive worry, lack of focus, and irritability. Even physical symptoms – like rapid heart rate, muscle tension, and headaches – can impact both people experiencing stress and those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. With symptoms that can appear interchangeable, it can be difficult to know when to work on deep breathing and when to seek professional help.

Employee stress

What are Stress and Anxiety?

In short, stress is your body’s reaction to a trigger and is generally a short-term experience. Stress can be positive or negative. When stress kicks in and helps you pull off that deadline you thought was a lost cause, it’s positive. When stress results in insomnia, poor concentration, and impaired ability to do the things you normally do, it’s negative. Stress is a response to a threat in any given situation. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a sustained mental health disorder that can be triggered by stress. Anxiety doesn’t fade into the distance once the threat is mediated. Anxiety hangs around for the long haul, and can cause significant impairment in social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning.

How to Overcome Stress and Anxiety…

1. Reassure yourself. Even though you might be experiencing unpleasant bodily sensations, reassure yourself that an episode of anxiety can’t hurt you physically.

2. Use a relaxation technique. There are plenty of effective relaxation techniques that you can learn in a few minutes and use in almost any situation. You could try a simple breathing technique. Let all the air out of your lungs, breath in really slowly, continue breathing in as you expand your chest, hold your breath for a few seconds, focus your mind on your breathing. Repeat this exercise a few times and you should feel less anxious

3. Do something that fully engages you. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it works for you. Listen to music, draw a picture, do a crossword. Anything that engages you fully will help you stop worrying about things and achieve a sense of calm.

4. Do some exercise. Exercise is known to instantly combat anxiety. If you're feeling tense, doing 30 minutes of vigorous exercise can help calm you down. If you can't manage that do something short and intense.

The Takeaway…

Stress isn’t always negative it can help us thrive at work, however too much stress can lead the body to experience symptoms such as rapid heart rate, headaches and fatigue. Learning about stress and anxiety, and understanding the differences is essential in how we overcome these negative feelings. If you would like to get to uncover 'stressors' within your company with a view to improving employee wellbeing, why not reach out to the Health of Business team for guidance.

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