Feelings of excess stress and anxiety are hellish. I know because I’ve been there.
When you depress and and shut down due to feelings of excess stress and anxiety you generally attract sympathy via oxytocin. This is because your loved ones feel concern for you and are usually especially caring towards you.
There is nothing wrong with that. Oxytocin (the love drug), is a valid support when you’re feeling down, but it wont 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 work load, time to exercise or meditate, support around the house; are all reasonable requests when you are working to move yourself 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, learning, facebook groups, friends etc. Here’s something that we are offering right now. It’s a series of four downloads over four days to help you feel better. It’s FREE and you can get it right here.
If you sign up for this offer you will also have the ability to reply to the emails which deliver the downloads and we will personally support you to feel even better. 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 and click here.
I’d love to see you on the other side.