What's the difference between stress and anxiety?

From the Fuller Youth Institute
We live in a stressed and anxious world. Modern life is fast-paced and offers an unrelenting to-do list. So it probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that Americans struggle with anxiety more than any other kind of mental health challenge.   Nearly 1 in 5 people have experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year and almost 1 in 3 will experience one at some point in their lives.[1]

With numbers this high, chances are that we are now talking about you, me, and our loved ones. Whenever families, classrooms, or youth groups gather, anxiety is in our midst.

What exactly is anxiety?

Anxiety is different from typical everyday stress. Technically speaking, stress refers to our body being out of balance. When our physical body gets out of balance due to strong thoughts or emotions, we are stressed! What’s so exciting about stress is that it can be positive (like feeling so excited we’re speechless) or it can be negative (like being so fearful that we start trembling). Often it serves a really useful purpose of helping us to kick into gear when we tackle a tough assignment or enter “the zone” when it’s time to sink a free-throw. Growth means change, and nothing promotes change better than stress sending us a little bit off balance.

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