How Does Stress Impact Anxiety?

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Stress and anxiety are interrelated. As you look to the root of your anxiety, stress is often the culprit. 

Regardless of the type of stress you’re experiencing, it can take a toll on your mental health and trigger anxiety. In people who have an anxiety disorder, stress can make it more challenging to manage the symptoms of anxiety. Stress causes increases in the hormone cortisol, the stress hormone. Increases in this hormone are related to anxiety.

Why does it matter? Stress and anxiety can impact your personal relationships, health, and school or job performance. This blog will dive into what causes stress and anxiety and practical coping mechanisms.

For easy-to-access support, discover BLOOM’s courses on Anxiety and Fear, Anxiety, Stress, and Phobias

Understanding Stress

The nervous system is made up of two parts. There is the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. When someone is experiencing intense emotion, especially emotions such as stress or excitement, hormones are secreted. These hormones cause the sympathetic system to activate, pumping a hormone called adrenaline through a person’s bloodstream. This causes a person’s heart rate and, thus, their breathing to accelerate, leading to further emotion, whether it’s a good feeling like excitement or a negative emotion like anxiety.

Responding with a moderate and appropriate emotional reaction to any situation without overstimulating our sympathetic nervous system is the ability to be regulated. The parasympathetic nervous system, when activated, helps us to be calm. 

On the other hand, stress often reduces a person's ability to stay regulated, thus causing them to have more extreme reactions. What may have been merely a worry for someone in a calm state of mind could morph into full-blown anxiety if they were experiencing a stressful day or period in their life, too little sleep, irregular eating, or pain.

Coping With Stress to Reduce Anxiety 

If you don’t address feelings of extreme stress, it can lead to anxiety and depression over time. Depression can be a symptom of an unintegrated FPR reflex, as it is the body’s mechanism to withdraw from a perceived threat. 

Suppose a person experiencing a moment of stress holds their breath, exhibits shallow breathing, or changes in heart rate. In that case, initiating regular meditation for relaxation and deep breathing exercises can be helpful. Breathing exercises can positively affect your emotions.

Stress and anxiety that are not addressed can manifest into emotional pain and signs of depression. Receiving more hugs in a day, cuddling with a pet, or holding something in your hand that brings you comfort can help relieve the freeze-stress response.

Help Reducing Anxiety Caused by Stress

Stress and anxiety are two different yet interrelated sensations. Stress stems from a particular situation after which you go back to normalcy. On the other hand, anxiety can be triggered by anything that causes you to fear or a memory of a traumatizing situation.

Stress can be a symptom of anxiety and vice versa. It can therefore lead to the worsening or further deterioration of an already anxious person. While it is not always possible to completely eliminate stressful situations, there are practical steps you can take to cope with these situations.

With courses on various topics, BLOOM’s online resources support you and your family at your point of need. Discover courses on Anxiety, Fear, Stress, Anxiety and Phobia, and Emotional Control and Regulation

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