Monday, 13 June 2016

Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety is closely linked to stress but where it differs is that it has an element of anticipation, a sense of being under threat or waiting for something bad to happen, even if we don’t know where the danger may come from.

The differences between stress and anxiety

Stress is generally a response to a specific change or trigger such as losing your job, taking an exam or moving house; anxiety can strike suddenly, without warning and with no obvious cause to trigger it off. We can also become anxious about something that might happen, even if we know it’s unlikely to actually take place. This is often called worrying instead of anxiety, but pretty much amounts to  the same thing.

Just like stress, in short bursts and appropriate circumstances, anxiety can be a survival strategy.  If we go into an unfamiliar situation, or one that might be dangerous, it’s wise to be extremely careful, ready to deal with whatever might happen. Anxiety is the stress-response equivalent of holding your car on the clutch at a junction, so you can set off straight away when the lights change without having to get the car in gear or find the biting point.

When we are anxious we become ‘hyper-vigilant’ - in other words we are super-sensitive to changes around us, especially noises and movement. This means we are more likely to detect a threat if there is one around, and we can bring about a full stress response quickly to help us escape or defend ourselves. If the anxiety is very powerful we may decide to simply avoid the situation which causes it, thereby also avoiding placing ourselves at any risk at all.

Also, just like stress, anxiety in inappropriate circumstances or experienced constantly over a long period of time ceases to be a beneficial process and begins to erode our physical and emotional health and well being.

Reducing anxiety

Often doing something - anything - to take back control from your anxiety will start to reduce it. Clients sometimes tell me their worrying has been less of a problem since making the appointment. It’s better still after they’ve been!
  • Use relaxation or breathing techniques such as self hypnosis, meditation or mindfulness, download my free relaxation audio
  • Around 50 different studies have shown that even relatively small amounts of regular exercise can be really helpful in reducing anxiety levels
  • Make contingency plans for different eventualities, but then focus on what might go right - avoid being overwhelmed by ‘what ifs’
  • Find ways to establish more productive or positive thinking patterns (there are some ideas on this blog, here)
  • Talk about your feelings to family and friends, or to a support group (your GP or Anxiety UK will know if there is one locally). If you can’t do this, consider talking to a coach, therapist or counsellor. I'd be happy to help, or if you are too far away to see me I may be able to recommend someone in your area.
Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.Debbie is has also written about helping people with IBS in the Hypnotherapy Handbook which is available from
Find out more about Debbie's services on  or phone 01977 678593


  1. I read your blog.I thought it was great.. Hope you have a great day. God bless.

    1. Thank you Leslie, your feedback is appreciated.