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Stress and anxiety

What is stress?

Stress is a natural bodily reaction to life constraints and opportunities (stressors). Stressors can be something external, like an event that happens to you, or internal, like your own thoughts. We typically feel stress at a level in proportion to the stressors causing it.  

Our bodies are designed to experience and react to stress. Stress energises us to do something; for example, it can help us work harder and stay focused longer to study for an exam or assignment. Understanding stress and how to regulate it are important to harness its energizing benefits that prepare you for a challenge.  

However, if we perceive our stress as hindering or harming us and if stressors continue without relief or periods of relaxation, stress can lead to serious negative physical and mental issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, heart problems, just to name a few.  

What is anxiety?

Like stress, anxiety is also a natural body reaction to a stressor. Still, anxiety and stress are different. Anxiety is the feelings of worry, doubt, uncertainty, unease, and sometimes fear about events or feelings that have not yet occurred but are related to a stressor we are currently facing. Anxiety takes a stressor and turns it into greater worries. 

While low anxiety levels can improve our performance, it becomes a problem when it doesn’t go away, occurs without reason, and/or prevents you from functioning in your everyday life. According to statistics collected by Beyond Blue, one quarter of Australians will experience an anxiety condition in their lifetime. This means 26.3% of Australians aged between 16 and 85 have experienced an anxiety disorder. That’s the equivalent of 4.96 million people today.   

Support at Curtin

Use the support network at Curtin University to learn how to effectively recognise and manage your stress or anxiety symptoms. Professional confidentiality is taken seriously at Curtin’s Psychological and Counselling Services and AccessAbility Services, so any information discussed will remain private unless you or others are in danger or if legally obligated to disclose. 

Additional resources for stress and anxiety