Feelings of excess stress and anxiety are hellish. I know because I’ve been there.
When you depress and shut down due to feelings of excess stress and anxiety you generally attract sympathy via oxytocin. This is because your loved ones feel concerned for you and are usually especially caring towards you.
There is nothing wrong with that. Oxytocin (the love drug), is valid support when you’re feeling down, but it won’t help you address the root causes of your stress and anxiety unless you use it to address your real issues.
Your real issues are always centred around your behaviours and your behaviours not only include your thoughts, they are usually dictated by them.
The following Ted talk by Lisa Feldman Barrett gives scientific support to the fact that thoughts and actions create emotions, not the other way around.
It ain’t that Easy
When you are suffering from Stress and Anxiety untangling your thoughts from your feelings is not easy. When you feel terrible it is hard not to focus on it, but learning how to do just that, is what will enable you to manage stress effectively throughout your life. To make it even more challenging, there is a lag between changing your thoughts and feeling better. You have to hang in there for a while before your thoughts change your feelings and you start to feel better. During that time it is tempting to let your thoughts slip back into hopelessness and fear and to become overwhelmed. Having the right kind of support through this time is important. Too much sympathy can actually keep you stuck in stress and anxiety because it meets some of your needs. The most effective kind of support is friendly, firm, fair and honest.
Friendly, Firm, Fair and Honest
Patience from those around you when you are suffering from stress and anxiety is a finite resource. Coping with someone who is stressed and anxious is draining for anyone, but especially for loved ones. There is a risk of those around you initially being overly sympathetic, neglecting their own needs, and then becoming resentful, annoyed and even stressed out and anxious themselves. Stress and anxiety can be contagious. When you are feeling stressed and anxious it’s important to remember that it’s not all about you and to keep a healthy perspective.
Strangely enough, I was shocked to learn that my husband was not quite as into me during a period of intense stress and anxiety. That realisation was enough for me to re-evaluate and change my behaviour. Although it was hard to hear at the time, if he’d tried to protect me and hadn’t been honest or fair to himself, I might not have been able to turn things around as quickly as I did. Similarly, if he’d lambasted me for behaving the way I was, criticised, or blamed me for the impact I was having on him, that would have been equally detrimental.
If you can it’s a good idea to set ground rules for dealing with the situation from the outset. Be honest about the way you’re feeling but also acknowledge that it is hard on those around you and commit to working on the problem. Negotiate for what you need from your partner, your boss or even your children. Time off work, a reduction in workload, time to exercise or meditate, support around the house; are all reasonable requests when you’re working to move out of stress and anxiety, but only if you are also working on the real issues at the same time. Let them know that this is your problem and then follow through with what you are going to do about it.
There are a number of external supports that you can access to help: counsellors, mentors, coaches, learning, Facebook groups, friends etc.
Here’s something that we are offering right now. It’s a quick stress test to see how you’re currently dealing with stress and anxiety. You’ll get a FREE personal report showing where you have effective strategies for dealing with stressful situations and where you can make some changes.
This is what it looks like.
Simply sign up here so we can send you the link.
You’ll get an automated response after you complete the quiz but you will also receive a personal report based on your answers. This takes us a little while to generate so please be patient. you will receive your report within a few days.
So if you’re tired of feeling stressed and anxious, and you’re ready to take action, what have you got to lose? Try something that starts you on the road to addressing stress and anxiety at a deeper level today.
I’d love to see you on the other side.
Thanks for the post Deb, this is a crucial and serious topic to talk about, more and more young people are suffering stress and anxiety. Your points really are helpful and I’ve bookmarked your post just in case there is further use or other to help when they need this, thank you very much for the article.
No problem Josh, I’m glad you have bookmarked the post. With the world as it is you never know when stress might overwhelm you 🙂 Glad you’re feeling well at the moment.
Relieve Stress and Anxiety, is a topic I can relate to, I have suffered my whole life and your article addresses a lot of the issues and also offers great ways of dealing with it, for yourself and your partner.
A lot of people will certainly benefit from the information supplied.
You have done a great job with this post, thank you for sharing
Hello. Thank you for this article. Stress and anxiety are part of everyone’s life today. I know I am just as guilty for not laways dealing with stress as I should. And the key is how you DEAL with the stress. I know that I tend to deal with stress by setting myself in overdrive – working harder, adding more goals, sleeping less etc. This will just set you down a slippery slope.
We need to learn to ackowledge and find the root problem. I know for myself, it is more internal stress than external. It is constantly thinking and worrying that drives my stress. If I can learn to be more self aware and self forgiving, this would help a lot.
Thank you for sharing information of Choise Theory Online – I will definitely be looking at what it has to offer:)
Yes you are exactly right. Stress is an internal response to what is going on for us. We can use lots of bandaids (exercise, meditation, rest), but it’s important to get to the underlying causes if we are to manage stress effectively throughout our life.
For me it is crucial to be open and honest with my wife when either of us are stressed. We have a policy of telling the truth, even if it is not the nicest thing to say at the time. Often the first reaction is not great but we respect each other and have done this often enough to see the signs. Take a step back, see the other side and get clarity. It feels much better from that point as you realise you are well supported. I like the idea that you have more control of your emotions than you think. Very thought provoking.
Yes you’re right Ian, many people still believe that they are at the mercy of their emotions, when in fact emotions are only the outcome of our thinking, which is something we have direct control over. Thanks for sharing your story. I have been guilty myself of believing that my stress was all important in our household. I like the strategies you and your wife have created.
I’d always struggled to understand why the lag between changing thoughts and feeling better had to be that long. It feels like your are delicately suspended between the good your ought to feel and the bad that’s threatening to overwhelm and drag you back down for another round of thrashing. Thankfully you offer very valuable counsel and an appropriate example of how to flee from that dark place.
We are Blessed.
Hello dear,what a lovely post we have here,wow! I really love how you analysed the situation at hand here,and also the possible solutions you gave.Whilst reading your work i came across the words ‘friendly,fair,firm and honest’ i think these things are actually a part of the things one need to relieve themselves of stress and anxiety and the ability for one to go with the flow is something too.Wow am actually short off words about your work,are you a counsellor?.
No I am not a counsellor but my husband is a very successful counsellor with over 30 experience and we are working together on our program to take his work online. I have a long history of mental health challenges and the same work which we offer to clients has improved my life immeasurably.
This is a timely article for me because this corona virus and job thing has increased my stress levels off the charts. Thanks for the tedx video as well. I will work on my perspective and try to re-frame my thoughts so I know it isn’t just all about me, there are many people around feeling something similar and I have to choose my emotional reaction, likewise I’m lucky these days to have a good support group on facebook and with my friends, so I’ll rely on them more.
Excellent John, I wish you all the best.