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Anxiety, Stress & Coping
November 7, 2021
Is It Stress Or Anxiety? A Self Check-In Tool

Shift Team

A man sits at a table while on his laptop completing a stress self-check-in.

Am I Feeling Stressed Or Anxious

The difference between anxiety and stress can be hard to decipher. The physical symptoms of anxiety and stress may at times overlap and feel very similar. Anxiety is different from stress, in that it may be a reaction to stress. It’s totally possible to have both at the same time, but it can be useful to figure out which is more present.

This information will help you to address stressors differently, depending on your answers.

The thing I’m worried about is:

  1. More to do with the circumstances (external factors, ie. my car broke down)
  2. More to do with my perspective (internal factors, ie. “I feel like a failure”)

My reaction to the situation is:

  1. Appropriate to the context
  2. Out of proportion/an overreaction

When I step back and think about it, things would be better:

  1. If my situation or environment could change
  2. If I could just stop thinking about it or replaying it in my head

Once the problem is resolved, I feel:

  1. Much better
  2. About the same level of concern

Can you clearly identify the cause of your problem?:

  1. Yes it’s very clear
  2. No, it’s kind of everything. It feels hard to narrow down the problem

More often the advice I get from others is:

  1. That I have too much on my plate
  2. That I need to relax and not worry so much

When I am worried, it feels impossible to focus my attention anywhere else:

  1. No
  2. Yes

If a situation is causing me to worry, like an upcoming social event, I will

  1. Feel the discomfort, but try to handle it as best I can
  2. Avoid the event at all costs

Even after the problem is resolved, I feel dread, as if I am waiting for the next awful thing to happen:

  1. No
  2. Yes

The amount of time I spend worrying usually feels like an appropriate reaction to the situation:

  1. Yes
  2. No

Your Results

Okay, now take a look at your score. Is there predominantly more ones or twos? More ones, advise the it’s likely stress that you’re experiencing. If there are mostly twos, then this is indicative of feelings of anxiety. And of course, an equal amount of ones and twos, are a combination of both stress and anxiety. So now that we’re understanding the source, what are some things you can do?

What is Stress?

Stress usually occurs as a result of external circumstances that we are having trouble coping with. Oftentimes we are able to resolve our stressful symptoms when we are able to resolve the circumstances that are causing our stress. Our stress symptoms may have a mental, emotional, or physical component. Common symptoms of stress include anger, irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and digestive issues. Stress can be both good and bad, with good stress acting as a motivator for concentration and the accomplishment of tasks, and bad stress that feels persistent can lead to overwhelm and further emotional and physical difficulties.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, nervousness, or worry. Anxiety can be triggered by feelings of stress, but often does not dissipate after stressful external circumstances have been resolved. Anxiety can also be described as an excessive reaction to a given situation, causing worry and distress that may lead us to have difficulty completing tasks. Anxiety can feel like a persistent feeling of dread, leading us to perceive non life threatening circumstances as highly overwhelming. Symptoms of anxiety may include frequently feeling panicked, insomnia, hard-to-control worry, and avoidance.

How can therapy help?

Some helpful coping strategies for stress or anxiety may include regular exercise, opening up to loved ones, prioritizing sleep, making healthy choices around eating, and talking to a therapist. Therapists can help to better understand the sources of stress or anxiety and provide you with useful strategies to help your unique situation.

Working with a therapist for anxiety may mean learning to challenge your negative thinking patterns that lead to increased anxiety, or learning how to slowly and safely expose yourself to what causes anxiety in order to gradually challenge your fears and learn skills to control panic.

A therapist can also assist with stress management, and can work with you to help understand your stress triggers and how to cope with them in a healthy way. Both stress and anxiety can bring up difficult emotions, and therapy can provide a healthy outlet for these difficult feelings.

Interested in starting therapy? Get in touch with our Care Coordinators or try our Get Matched Questionnaire to get your personalized therapist recommendation.

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