How to reduce stress and anxiety

What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

Stress is a response to an external cause and subsides once the situation has been resolved.
Anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress; its origin is internal. It can become an ongoing feeling of apprehension or dread . Unlike stress, anxiety persists even after an intense situation has passed.


We all get stressed and some stress is good – at a low level it spurs us into action, like reaching deadlines.  However, if we’ve had a stressful day, or full on week, it’s just as important to rest and recharge afterwards, as we do after physical exercise. 

It's therefore important to take time to switch off your mind and recharge.  Do what you enjoy - it's different for everyone.  It may be extra sleep, it may be a walk or cooking or watching a movie.  Whatever helps you switch off and recharge. 

Big life changes can cause stress.   As humans we’re naturally programmed to resist change, as the status quo is safe.  So things like moving house, starting a new job and dealing with loss are very stressful.  However, in time, we get over it, we adapt and get used to the new situation.

It’s ongoing daily stressors that can gradually build up and really affect someone’s mental wellbeing. For example financial worries, being bullied or constantly undermined, ongoing physical pain or illness, too stretched and overloaded with responsibility at home and at work.  It's things that happen daily, which drain you or have you in constant overdrive or what feels like eternal pressure.  This is when it can turn into anxiety or depression. 

What can cause stress in the workplace? 
  • Overload and long hours
  • Feeling undervalued - demoralising
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Conflicts
  • Lack of clarity on the role and poor training
  • Work environment – poor equipment, noisy, facilities
  • Not being able to talk openly about stress

Stress coping mechanisms

  • Empty your bottle and fill up your tank
  • Talk over worries
  • Limit expectations – set reasonable goals, tackle a few key tasks
  • Eat well and exercise
  • Take breaks
  • Relax and recharge
  • 5 Ways to Wellbeing
  • Create a nice working environment – light & tidy
  • Learn to say no
  • Have fun
  • Mentemia App - tips from John Kirwan


Anxiety is a normal and healthy response to danger and threat. Adrenaline and cortisal are released and our body gets ready for action – to fight or flee. So it is useful when there is a life-threatening danger. 

However, it is not good if it is ongoing and the threat isn’t a matter of life and death. The body can't get rid of all the hormones, so they can become unbalanced in your brain.  This is when we can't think straight,  feel overwhelmed and our physical health is now also at risk -  including our immunity and energy levels.   

This is an involuntary physical reaction and is nothing to be ashamed of.  This is getting into the orange and red zones. It's time to get help, just as you would for any other ache or injury.  

Some key signs of anxiety are:
  • people start seeing the worst-case scenario in everything
  • become withdrawn and overwhelmed
  • start avoiding certain situations.

How to reduce anxiety

  • Talk it out with someone you trust
  • Seek professional help
  • Write it out - it will put it in perspective
  • Breathe deeply and let tension out
  • Work it off – physical exercise
  • Distance it –  how big is this problem going to look in 10 years time?
  • Tackle the issue, maybe with some help and support
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