How to Know If It’s Anxiety or Just Stress

I say it all the time: “This is giving me anxiety.” What I often mean, however, is something slightly different: “This is stressing me out.” As someone who has actually been diagnosed with chronic anxiety, I should probably know better than to conflate the two. And yet, I know just in conversing with my friends and co-workers on a daily basis that among my generation, using the words “stress” and “anxiety” interchangeably has become the norm.

While it might seem like a matter of semantics, in reality, it’s a problematic habit. For one thing, using “anxiety” as a replacement term for “stress” diminishes the very real symptoms that those who suffer from anxiety have to negotiate on a daily basis. For another, it might prevent someone who has undiagnosed anxiety from seeking the correct kind of treatment because they can’t differentiate those symptoms from that of regular, day-to-day stress.

Psychology Today

“Both stress and anxiety can bedevil anyone’s psychological and physical health,” says Heather Silvestri, PhD, a New York City–based psychologist. “However, while often related, they are distinct phenomena.” Below, she helps us clear up the difference between the two—and how to manage both.



Let’s start with stress, which typically refers to a situational experience. “It’s a physiological and psychological response to a stressor, which is often obvious and explicitly identified,” says Silvestri. A crazy day at work, a traffic jam, a looming presentation—these can all be sources of stress and can all cause your cortisol levels (also known as the “stress hormone”) to spike. You probably know the symptoms of stress pretty well: anything from sweaty palms to a racing heart to butterflies in your stomach.

But here’s the key thing about stress: When the source of your stress is resolved, those symptoms tend to go away. That’s not the case with anxiety.


“With anxiety, the internal disquiet stubbornly persists, without heeding the actual conditions,” explains Silvestri. In other words, those who suffer from generalized anxiety experience those same stress-like symptoms on a chronic basis, no matter the external circumstances. That’s why anxiety often feels inexplicable or “out of proportion” to what’s going on in our lives.

“Stress responses are hard-wired into our nervous system because we need them to survive,” says Silvestri. “Anxiety can be seen as the lingering upheaval that doesn’t necessarily quiet down when the situation improves. In this way, anxiety is the horse that ran away from the stable.”



Silvestri suspects a few factors, not the least of which is our current political landscape and the breakneck pace of the digital age—both valid sources of stress and fear. It’s our new norm, which certainly impacts the way we talk about it. “Our modern lexicon has absorbed this idea and it now trades in terms connoting fear, anxiety, and neurotic apprehension,” she says. “You might even go so far as to argue that there has been a glorification of internal unrest insofar as proclaiming, ‘I’m so stressed out!’ or ‘I’m freaking out!’ have a certain cache, as if such frenetic nervous system activity means someone is doing something important or notable.”

This, she says, has led to misuse of both terms, as well as a lapse in distinction between the two. “This is lamentable because stress and anxiety can be sources of substantial suffering, and they are best treated with nuance and precision about what they are and how they operate,” she adds. “Nowadays we also run the risk that someone may be delayed or miss out entirely on getting needed help because they mistake their clinically treatable anxiety disorder for a more normalized and watered-down idea of being ‘stressed out.'”


“Chronic stress can absolutely give way to anxiety,” says Silvestri. “We need rebound time to recover. When we experience chronic stress, we lose our ability to recover, and elevated physiological arousal becomes the new normal.” If you’re perpetually stressed, turning off that “switch” and finding relief becomes more difficult.


That’s why with anxiety, we tend to scan for things that might be worrying us when there aren’t any obvious stressors at a given moment—kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the good news is that there are many ways to manage both chronic stress and generalized anxiety.


Honestly, a lot of it is reflecting and figuring out what works for you. If you know that nothing clears your head like a sweaty jog, make time for that. If you notice that stress feels much more manageable when you get a good night’s sleep (as tends to be the case for most of us), be sure to get plenty of shut-eye when you know you’re about to be put in a stressful situation. Being both self-aware and proactive is key.


“If someone continues to feel preoccupied after a stressor has resolved or if the course of the worry doesn’t really track external events, this can be a sign that something more significant than generic stress is going on,” says Silvestri. This recognition is the first step. “By acknowledging your anxiety, you can be more mindful of triggers and more purposeful about your choices,” she says.

Also, know that it’ll be much easier and more efficient to treat your anxiety if you can approach it with curiosity instead of judgment. Then, you can start to play around with different rituals to manage it: Silvestri suggests starting with common aids like yoga, mindfulness, and journaling. “Really, any activity of self-care that lends a sense of agency to your lifestyle,” she says, since anxiety can rob us of our sense of control.


But if those initial steps aren’t offering any relief, then it’s probably time to seek help elsewhere. “For the first line treatment, I would recommend either cognitive behavioral or insight-oriented psychotherapy, depending on how interested someone is in delving into historical causes or sticking with a focus on symptoms, especially the triad of thoughts, feelings, behavior,” she says. You and your doctor or therapist can then discuss the best treatment plan for you.

Either way, know that you have options—and knowing the difference between stress and anxiety is a solid first step to feeling better.



Vitruvi Stone Diffuser ($119)

Vitruvi Stone Diffuser

Aromatherapy can help. There are some essential oils that have a calming effect, like lavender and bergamot. A diffuser is an easy way to use essential oils.

Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts ($65)

Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts

A bath is probably one of the best forms of self-care. This CBD soak also contains Epsom salt, pink Himalayan salt, calendula petals, and essential oils.

Hum Nutrition Big Chill ($20)

Hum Nutrition Big Chill

These supplements from Hum are formulated to help you stay calm and focused thanks to the adaptogenic plant, rhodiola. Take one capsule with food when you need it.

Moon Juice Magnesi-Om Berry Unstressing Drink ($42)

Moon Juice Magnesi-Om Berry Unstressing Drink

Add a teaspoon of this powder to your water before you go to bed, or whenever you need to de-stress. It contains magnesium and L-theanine to calm, improve move, and promote healthy digestion.


This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.

5 Black-Owned CBD Brands To Add To Your Self-Care Routine

It comes as no surprise that the cannabis industry and the legalization of marijuana is yet another barrier that Black business owners face. A new report released by Grand View Research, Inc stated that the global legal marijuana market size is expected to reach $73.6 billion by 2027. However, many states have very specific guidelines that stand as barriers for many people of color looking to get into the cannabis business and Black and brown people are still serving harsher sentences for the possession and distribution of drugs than their white counterparts.


In tandem with that, Black people across the country lack the capital and access to venture into the marijuana business due to the various restrictions as to who can own cannabis businesses. While the fight continues to dismantle another area in which systemic racism oppresses our community, these business owners are propelling forward to be the diversity that the whitewashed wellness industry so desperately needs. Here are five Black-owned CBD brands to support with varying products.

1. brwnbox

The Jersey-based CBD dispensary founded by Almaz Adeigbolo offers everything from pre-rolls and honey, to bath bombs that reduce anxiety. They also sell strains of CBD flower to help with depression and insomnia. Additionally, Adeigbolo is also a chef, and she curates cannabis-infused culinary experiences with her boutique food company, brwnbox kitchen.

2. BROWN GIRL jane 

BROWN GIRL jane is owned by sisters Malaika and Nia Jones and beauty and wellness expert Tai Beauchamp. The Spellman grads started the company after Malaika fell in love with the healing properties of plants and CBD, and felt frustrated with the lack of representation of people of color. Their products range from facial serums to body butter and yoni oils.


3. Undefined Beauty 

Founded by Dorian Morris, Undefined Beauty combines cannabis and skincare. The clean beauty advocate’s line features firming serums, cruelty-free lip balms, and bath salts.

4. Budzy Box 

Not sure where to begin your CBD journey? This company provides a monthly subscription service of products such as calming wearable patches, chocolates that fight anxiety, nourishing facial masks, feel-good teas, healthful treats, and soothing balms all delivered to your door.


5. Satan’s Breath CBD Hot Sauce

Yes, you read that right, hot sauce. Chef Paul Booker intends to blend up his passion for food and cannabis for all to enjoy. The former athlete shared that after enduring injuries and extreme physical stress on his body after his college football days, Satan’s Breath was born.

If you’re curious about exploring CBD, support these Black-owned brands as you venture into this area of wellness!




Dating during quarantine is an entirely new ball game. For most of us, we’re used to chatting for a couple of days (or weeks) and then meeting up for a first date. That’s not the case while we practice social distancing—we’re now forced to spend time truly getting to know someone, whether it’s through long phone calls or Zoom/virtual dates. Slowing down before we meet someone is not necessarily a bad thing. While these tactics are all regarding to new flings and love interests, what about the ex-hookups who are still lingering in our life and are now circling back while everyone is bored and craving attention in the bedroom?

Do we give in to the digital sex? Our best friend ” heartbreak coach ” would most likely say no and to stand our ground (rightfully so), but today we’re offering a different view and siding with the motto of doing what makes us feel good at the moment. There’s enough negativity in the world right now, so if a little FaceTime sex lifts the spirit and releases sexual tension, go for it—we’re all for being easy on ourselves during this challenging time.

Below we’re exploring the world of FaceTime sex and why you shouldn’t be ashamed to partake in the fun (if it interests you)—even if it’s with an old flame who has found a way back into your text messages.

First and foremost, it’s not for everyone—only participate if you feel completely comfortable and trust the person.

Bottom line: we’re all going stir crazy and insanely horny. If you’ve never had FaceTime sex pre-quarantine but are on a dry streak and looking for some steamy action, now could be the time to explore. Here are some pointers to keep in mind.


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1. Set the mood: lighting is everything. Turn on a dim lamp or light a candle by your bedside. You can even take it to the next level and buy a ring light to enhance the digital night.

2. Wear your favorite lingerie set: this is optional obviously, but that said, it’s always nice to put on something that makes you feel super confident.

3. Loosen up: don’t think too much into it. Let your body and voice go with the flow. It can be awkward at first, but once you get in the groove, you’ll be on your way to the big O.

4. Use toys and lube: put your vibrator to good use and let your partner watch you play with it. Or for a more PG version, you can just describe what you’re doing with the device if you’re not comfortable giving a visual. You might be thinking, “But what if he/she screenshots during the experience?” If you both are truly giving it your all, your hands and mind are pretty tied up, and it’d be difficult to capture a screenshot. Be smart about it though.

5. Get vocal: express what you want to see or what you wish your partner was doing to you if you were together. Above all, make it playful and have fun with the virtual edition of having sex.

BeautyLeeBar Edit: Bedroom Essentials

Tell us how the corona virus crisis has affected a relationship or your experience living alone

BeautyLeeBar would like to hear from you. How has social distancing changed your relationship with a romantic partner, friend or family member? Have you started a new relationship? Are you quarantined at home with an ex or amid a divorce? If you or someone you know has contracted the corona virus, how has that affected a relationship? What is living alone like right now?

The content provided in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice and consultation, including professional medical advice and consultation; it is provided with the understanding that Hello Beauties, LLC (“BeautyLeeBar”) is not engaged in the provision or rendering of medical advice or services. You understand and agree that BeautyLeeBar shall not be liable for any claim, loss, or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance upon any content or information in the article.