How to Manage Stress & Anxiety
It's easy to think that we can't avoid stress and anxiety and that they are caused by the things that happen to us in our life.
But fortunately for us a lot of our stress is actually caused by the way we think and the way we carry ourselves in our bodies. Why is this lucky? Because it gives us a chance to be able to change how we feel and take some control over our stress and anxiety. These feelings are not simply caused by life events outside our control.
We all know someone who on the whole has everything they need and yet they suffer with anxiety and even depression and just can’t seem to lift themselves up.
You probably also know someone who no matter what life throws at them still has a smile, sees the bigger picture and copes really well given the circumstances. Then there’s everyone else in-between.
So, because of this, we can know it is not necessarily the events of our life that cause our perception of a crisis. So it must be something about how we are managing ourselves.
Stress and anxiety are two very different things. Stress is an inevitable part of life. Stress occurs as an external event to which we have to respond. Someone takes out their frustration on us, we have an accident or illness, we have a busy schedule at work, a hectic family life, etc. Stress is an entirely inevitable and acceptable part of existence. Even if we try are pare it all back, get rid of everything that is stressful in our life and weed out all unnecessary occurrences, then boredom would be a stressor! Or loneliness. Or external life events over which we have no control - covid, global warming, war, etc.
So we can’t avoid stress. But we can choose how we respond to it. We can learn to respond with less anxiety.
Everyone has moments of anxiety, just before an exam or performance, starting a new job, having a baby, etc. Some anxiety is inevitable and even useful as it gives us a boost of adrenaline and other hormones to help us get through a challenge. But what if your anxiety levels are permanently high. If you are on red alert looking out for danger where in the cold light of day there is none?
What if anxiety is preventing you from doing simple everyday tasks? Or stopping you from taking steps that will help you move forward in life? Or if it's become something that has just become your constant companion – that you’ve forgotten how to feel ‘normal’ or relaxed even in joyful situations.
That’s when you need to take control and make some changes. To make the most of your life you need to make a change. But what change and what direction?
Should you do counselling and psychotherapy and work through past events? Should you just ‘man up’ and stop being like you are (good luck with that one!) There are a plethora of offers of help out there but which way should you go? Holistic therapy? Hypnotherapy? CBT? Group workshops? Self help books? Martial Arts to build a backbone? Reiki, Chakra realignment? Oriental medicine? Herbalism? Acupuncture? You Tube? Udemy? Which one to commit to and spend your time and money on? How about just dip a toe in each and not really commit to any so not really get the rewards from any?
The options are endless.
So, all I can say is that I’ve been on this journey too. I’ve tried pretty much all of the options above for over 3 decades. I have done a course every year of my life since I left school and I’m now 48. I saw my first counsellor when I was 16 and began this journey of self discovery then.
I can say that I am now in a position where I am really happy with my life and my ability to cope with challenges that come up. I am confident in my work and happy in my relationships. I am reasonably comfortable speaking in public and groups. I have pretty much got to where I want to be and the biggest help to me were the Humanist Interpersonal Counselling I received in my twenties, then above any other thing the Alexander Technique and Hypnotherapy. Hence why I trained in them.
I also valued the hours that I spent reading although much of that went in one ear and out the other if I’m honest but I think it has informed my thinking and processing of other information.
So, how can you manage your stress and anxiety?
Learn how your brain works and how anxiety is created by the way you think and carry yourself physically. When we become more aware of our responses to stress, whether it’s thought patterns or physical tension then we get to choose a different response.
So if you notice that you are berating yourself about something you did or said, get the old cogs whirring and work out something you did well in that situation. If you find yourself furrowing your brow and slumping over in a dejected manner, choose a different response. Sit tall and relax your face. It’s not about ‘sugar coating’ or ignoring harmful things in your life that need to change – that damaging ‘false’ positivity, the ‘oh, I’m fine’ when inside you are dying. But it is about switching your focus to the things that you are doing well, that you have achieved, the kindnesses from friends and family, the places of joy and success in our life. When we switch our focus then it calms down our nervous system, we come out of fight / flight and we are able to see the wood for the trees. To make better choices. To problem solve effectively. Our anxiety reduces and so we are able to respond to the stress in our life appropriately and wisely.
You can learn the skills you need to be able to quieten down effectively and deal with stress in a calm and efficient way - To manage stress and anxiety well.
If you want anymore information about how to do this please have a look on my website or feel free to get in touch by phone or email or PM