Everyone knows that chronic stress is bad for your health, but imagine having to deal with anxiety on top of the normal stressors you encounter at work, in your relationships, or in your day-to-day life. For people with anxiety disorders, telling the difference between stress versus anxiety can be a challenge. Many of symptoms of anxiety and stress overlap, making it hard to manage them accordingly. In fact, it can take some folks years of practice before they're able to discern between symptoms of stress, and symptoms of anxiety.
"The difference between stress and anxiety can be tricky, because they can often feel the same in our bodies and minds," Erica Hornthal, a psychotherapist, and the CEO and Founder of Chicago Dance Therapy, tells Bustle. "Stress is something that everybody encounters, and it often comes from having too much on our plate, or not being able to manage our schedules or expectations. Anxiety is something that affects our daily way of living and impacts our emotional health, relationships, and our ability to cope and manage life," Hornthal explains.
However, knowing what your anxiety looks and feels like, versus how you respond to stress, could be the key to learning how to cope more efficiently with both every day stress and your mental health. Here's how nine women and non-binary folks have learned to distinguish between regular stress, and symptoms of their anxiety.