Stress vs. Anxiety: What’s the Difference?

We’ve all felt symptoms of stress at some point in our lives, our body responds to a new relationship, job promotion, or moving house by creating panic symptoms such as heart-thumping or tense muscles. However, many individuals confuse stress and anxiety – and these are two very different responses.

What is Stress and what is the cause?

Research shows that about half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress that they believe is making them ill. Changes in our lives such as the death of a loved one, a new relationship, a demanding job promotion, or the birth of a child can cause higher levels of stress which often affects both mental and physical health. ‘Happy’ events such as marriage or moving house can also cause stress as the pressure of time, family and expectations mount.

Stress typically results from an exterior motivator, or stressful situation, where we experience overwhelm that can lead to feelings of frustration, crying, anger and nervousness. A sudden release of adrenaline, from the adrenal glands, enables the ‘fight or flight’ response which causes physical and emotional reactions that prepare us to deal with the challenging situation at hand. We may experience raised blood pressure, increased heartbeat, perspiration, tense muscles and negative mood and emotions. Once the stress subsides, or we remove ourselves from the stressful situation so do the intense, negative emotions.

What is Anxiety and what is the cause?

Anxiety can be experienced by anyone, and, like stress, it initiates a response that is commonly known as the fight or flight response. Unlike stress, anxiety is often a response to an imprecise or unknown threat and can result from being put under short and long term stress.

An intense, negative feeling of ‘doom’ can come about quite suddenly, and most often occurs without any visible trigger, and can appear at random such as a social meeting, often resulting in an anxiety attack. Anxiety can manifest as intense dread, fear, worry, and the urge to escape, and can be accompanied by tightening throat, confusion, shortness of breath, flushing, lightheadedness, jitters, tingling, unsteadiness, chest and head tightness, overwhelming worry, hot and cold chills, nausea, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and even fainting or vomiting and continues even after the stressful situation has been removed.  Although most people experience a relatively mild form of stress when facing challenging situations (such as public speaking or presentations) anxiety can be so severe that it disrupts the individual’s natural ability to live in a calm and manageable way.

Thankfully, we can learn relaxation and stress reduction techniques to help us manage our stress and anxiety effectively, making us more resilient and able to cope. Hypnotherapy helps us to change our thought patterns about ourselves and situations so that we feel comfortable applying ourselves to tasks or events that may have in the past caused concern. We can learn how to see our internal and external barriers from a fresh, clear, manageable perspective, with the added benefit of applying guided visualisation, an empowering technique that helps relax the mind and body when visualising what may have been previously perceived as a ‘stressful’ situation.

Following an extensive review of the existing literature on hypnotherapy, the British Medical Association concluded that hypnotherapy was not only effective but may be ‘the treatment of choice’ in dealing with anxiety (‘psychoneurosis’) and stress-related (‘psycho-somatic’) disorders.

I am a Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Clifton, Bristol.
With a lifelong interest in mindfulness, neuroscience and extensive corporate experience. Cultivating curiosity and compassion over the years has helped me hone my approach and informs my work – with everyone from professionals suffering stress and fear of public speaking, to world-class actors and musicians looking to improve their performance. I’m humbled by the courage, strength and transformations it’s been my privilege to witness. Read about the sessions, recent testimonials and keep up to date with recent blog posts here.

To take the first step please contact me on  or 07908 175 499 to make an initial consultation. I work from a friendly, relaxed clinic, Comfort Health in Clifton, Bristol.  Alternatively, fill in a contact form here.

“Annette has been fantastically helpful for me, straight from the first session I was sure that I’d made the right decision in booking a session. She has really helped me transform how I deal with stressful situations. I am now able to take a step back from challenges and think clearly in making decisions. In addition to this, she’s helped me learn relaxation and mindfulness techniques, which have helped me to really develop a feeling of calmness and reduce anxiety. This has had an immense impact on my life as I feel I can now be myself in all situations, without anxiety holding me back.”  Jack, 28, Manager