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Q: How can you tell the difference between Stress and Anxiety?

posted Feb 12, 2016, 10:56 AM by Nancy Bell
A:  Stress is a normal response to a challenge or life change.  Our body often goes into some level of "flight or fight" mode as we react.  We may experience sweaty palms or a fast beating heart.  We can also feel nervous, angry, or frustrated.  But sometimes stress is a positive thing.  Think about taking a test....if a student has too low of a level of stress, he won't do well (maybe has a "whatever" type attitude and puts forth little effort).  If a student has too high of a level of stress, he also won't do well (often can't concentrate).  So, a moderate amount of stress for a test is often a good thing so he puts in enough effort with clear, focused thinking. In general, too much stress, especially over a long period of time, can be exhausting and unhealthy.  There are many strategies for stress management that are easy to incorporate into your family life.

On the other hand, anxiety is a feeling of being worried or afraid.  Often the feeling is out of proportion with the situation--for example, being afraid to go a birthday party or on a field trip.  Feelings of anxiety can be associated with a specific thing (like test anxiety) or a general feeling of anxiety that permeates most aspects of their lives. About 1 in 8 children and adolescents have significant anxiety.  If your child's anxiety keeps him/her from enjoying life or functioning in his/her daily life, please seek help.

For help with managing your student's stress or anxiety, please call ETS for a consultation.