Anxiety is a form of collective, undefined fear.
Stress and anxiety are connected through the emotional component of stress. We put ourselves in a state of stress and try to push through the problematic situation because we are afraid of what happens if we don't.
Let's take a simple example. We usually recognize that in order to keep ourselves and our families well fed and with a roof over our heads, we have to earn money and to do so, we look for work. This is a conscious tradeoff; well-being for potentially stressful work. But, somewhere along the line after doing the work for so long and with smaller problems compounding the situation, we lose sight of the conscious choice and feel like we are forced to continue on this path.
We focus stressfully at the work at hand because we afraid of not doing so. What was once a conscious decision becomes replaced with specific fear at first, and as the fear grows it becomes stronger and more general. When we can no longer discern what specific thing we are afraid of, fear has turned into anxiety.
Prolonged stress turns fear into anxiety quite efficiently because it takes away the focus and visibility of our deeper problems. To deal with anxiety we have to tackle two aspects simultaneously: letting go of the stress and taking the time to dissect and analyze our fears through self-reflection.
Acknowledging anxiety and taking it head on requires a lot of courage. Also, during and after dealing with anxiety we have to have the self-discipline to change those aspects of our lives that need changing.