How to Overcome Situational Depression

Overcome Situational Depression
How to overcome situational depression

Situational depression, also known as adjustment disorder, is depression caused by your response to stress or loss. When a situation is particularly difficult to cope with, you can develop stress-related responses: e.g. racing thoughts, insomnia, anxiety, etc. If you can adapt to the new situation, or adapt the situation to cause us less stress, we should be able to recover more quickly.

Until I turned up at my doctor’s surgery asking for a week off work and anti-depressants …that I didn’t end up taking… I had never even heard of situational depression.

Thirty years previously I had been diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder, so I guess you would have to say I was improved. But given that I had suffered a manic episode just a few months prior to this recent diagnosis, maybe I should have been diagnosed with Situational Bi-Polar Disorder? But is that even a thing?

Apparently not. It seems Bi-polar disorder is listed as a Major Depressive Disorder. This is curious because I took no medication and experienced no bi-polar symptoms, for fifteen years after I left my first marriage, which I found extremely stressful. Then I took on a stressful job which was fine for over a year until I was dealing with two very stressful clients and wham! – a manic episode, followed by supposed Situational Depression.

Educate Yourself

What can you take from this? If you’re  dealing with mental health issues you need to educate themselves. While doctors, especially GPs, can be useful, they generally don’t know that much about mental health. And mental health issues are very individual.

If I hadn’t educated myself, I might still be trying to live on the lithium/Prozac cocktail that I was prescribed after my initial diagnosis.  It hasn’t always been an easy road and I’ve had relapses. But I’ve learnt from them and I’m not addicted to a medication.

What Have I learned about my Mental Health?

I’ve learned that I have to pay attention to meeting my basic needs. If I don’t I develop stress responses which cluster into some form of depression. The quality of my wellbeing is directly related to how well I am  meeting my basic needs.

Basic Needs

So what are our basic needs?

We all have five needs: –

Survival

  • Health
  • Financial Security
  • Safety

Love and Belonging

  • Nourishing and supportive relationships
  • Sense of belonging
  • Intimacy

Freedom

  • Independence
  • Creativity
  • Mobility
  • Choice

Fun

  • Learning
  • Amusement
  • Joy
  • Laughter

Power

  • Internal control
  • Achievement
  • Acknowledgement
  • Influence

Dr William Glasser

According to William Glasser the importance of each need is unique to us all and remains constant throughout out life. It’s helpful to think of these needs as buckets, with the size of the bucket being the same for us throughout our life.

There’s an important thing to remember about this bucket analogy however. If your bucket is small but also very empty the need will feel large. An example would look like this:  You a low survival need but within a few weeks you lose our job, your home and your partner. Your bucket for survival might not be big but it’s virtually empty. So it will feel huge and suddenly your need for security will outweigh all your other needs. You  would experience the same increased need for survival if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness, even though our normal need for survival was low.

My Situational Depression

My situational depression raised its head when I felt like I couldn’t be effective in meeting my clients’ needs because of all our organisational protocols. I made judgement calls that I thought were correct, but my manager and our policies had a different view. I lost my confidence, I started making silly mistakes. I lost more confidence and became more stressed because I felt incompetent.  I told myself that I hated my job, when what I really hated was my response to my job and that was something that I could control.

If you’d like to understand your needs better fill out the form below and I’ll send you a Free Needs Profile Questionnaire.

Then I’d love you share your experiences with Situational Depression, or Bi-polar in the comments below.

Feel Great.

Deb 🌻

How Do You Deal With Anxiety and Depression?

You Can't Feel Good When You Think Bad

You Learn How to Deal Effectively With Stress

Yes, it’s actually that simple. Learn how to deal with stress effectively and you won’t have to deal with anxiety and depression.

But what if you’re already anxious and depressed?

It’s not too late! Learning how to deal with stress will hugely improve your depression and anxiety. Sign up now for our quick stress quiz to see how well you’re doing that right now. This gives you are starting point so you can see what you need to work on.

… Things That Will Help

Don’t Do Things You Hate If You Can Help It

In fact, don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Find another way, negotiate, teach yourself to enjoy whatever it is, compromise if you must, but don’t keep doing something that you really don’t want to do. It’s very stressful.

Get Some Decent Shut-Eye ….Preferably Without Pills

When I hated my job and I was dealing with anxiety and depression I didn’t sleep well. Sometimes I didn’t sleep at all. Not sleeping at all is dangerous. So is regularly not getting enough sleep. It can lead to all sorts of problems.

When you have buffalo running around in your head and you can’t shut them down.  Sometimes the only way to get any sleep is to take some meds. But there are downsides… they can give you a weird sleep, make you drowsy the next day and give you a dry mouth the next morning. They are also addictive. Use sleeping pills sparingly and learn some alternative strategies asap.

  • Keep your bedroom cool and as dark as possible
  • Don’t work late into the night. Put work away at least an hour before bedtime
  • Say goodbye to coffee after lunch
  • Reduce your alcohol use. It might help you crash at times but it also causes you to wake-up. Alcohol is a depressant so it just adds to depression and anxiety in the end
  • Set a routine for going to sleep and waking up
  • Stay away from computer screens before bed. If you must use screens at night use f.lux to adjust your screen for night use. It’s a free download
  • Relax your body, focus on your breathing and try to clear your head
  • … if that doesn’t work, get up and do something relaxing
  • If you have problems that are keeping you awake get up and write everything out. Including solutions

Learn to Manage Your Thoughts

You Can't Feel Good When You Think Bad

Your thoughts have a direct impact on the way you feel. You can’t feel good when you think bad.

Don’t allow thoughts that make you feel angry, sad, depressed or anxious.

Change negative thoughts to thoughts that are kinder and more positive. “I have no friends I’m a loser” can easily change to “I’m grateful for the people in my life. I’ll reach out and work on making new friends.” Ask someone you trust for their ideas. They will see you much more positively.

If the negative thoughts keep coming, distract yourself by doing something that you love and that needs your focus.

Some gentle exercise every day will give you lots of helpful hormones. No excuses …Do It!!

Don’t Sweat What You Can’t Control

You can only control yourself. You will cause yourself a lot of unnecessary anxiety and depression by resisting things you can’t control or aren’t ready to.  There is huge peace in accepting what is. You can still work to change what you’re doing. But you will be so much happier if you work towards change from a point of acceptance rather than resistance.

Is there anything in your life that you’re resisting and which is causing you to suffer as a result?

As always if you have any questions, comments, or feedback I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Your comments help others. They also help this post to rank in Google where people can find it amongst all the online noise. So if this is something you think is valuable please take the time to leave a comment below before you go.

Thanks again

Deb🌻

PS: If you haven’t already completed the Stress Quiz give it a go. It really will give you a great idea of where you need to start getting on top of your anxiety and depression.

Free Stress Test – Really Quick!

Free Stress Quiz

Free Stress QuizHow Well You Do You Handle Stress and Anxiety?

There is a wide variance in the way that people handle. At one end of the scale are people who thrive on stress and actively seek it out. Extreme sportspeople and people who work in high-stress environments are just a couple of examples.

At the other end of the scale, there are the people who will do everything they can to avoid stress in their lives. The rest of us fit somewhere in between.

So stress isn’t inherently bad. Even though when you’re feeling overstressed it can feel very bad.

What’s important is how you manage the stress in your life and why you are in fact creating it.

Why Is Managing Stress Well So Important?

How you manage stress and anxiety is an important key to unlocking your potential. Do it well and you can grow to the point where you operate in your “zone”.

This “zone” of perfect stress is also known as being in a state of “eustress” and is the state that top achievers aim for. In this state you optimise your productivity, your output feels effortless, everything just works.

If you don’t learn to manage stress properly you will soothe yourself with different behaviours. Some of these behaviours are positive; like mindfulness, gentle exercise and doing activities that bring you joy. We call this stress first aid, they are helpful, but they don’t address the underlying causes of stress and anxiety.

You may also choose destructive behaviours like drinking alcohol for stress relief, overeating, gambling etc. The video below shows how this works.

Make An Investment In Yourself Today!

You can learn everything you can about stress and anxiety but in the end, to change how you feel, to feel better, you will have to take some positive action. You have the chance right now to take a quick five-minute quiz and start a journey that could change your life!

As always if you have any questions, comments or feedback we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Your comments help others by your sharing and they also help this post to rank in Google where people can find it amongst all the online noise. So if this is something you think is valuable please take the time to leave a comment below before you go.

Thanks again

Deb🌻

NATURAL STRESS RELIEF – 7 Top Tips

Your One Elusive Thing

natural stress relief

Learning natural stress relief techniques is not difficult because stress is not necessarily a bad thing. We all need some stress in our lives but what we don’t want are the nasty physical symptoms caused by too much stress. This is when stress becomes distress and can have very unpleasant outcomes such as heart disease, addictions, obesity and chronic depression.

1. Hang on to your Good Habits

Your One Elusive Thing

When people become overly stressed they often use it as an excuse to give up on all the good habits they already have in their life. They stop exercising, replace healthy home-cooked food with takeout and work into the night when they can’t sleep.

By maintaining the healthy habits that you already have and developing new healthy habits you can avoid many of the debilitating symptoms of too much stress.

To do this you will need to go against your feelings. Your feelings are the result of your thoughts and your behaviors. Feelings cannot be trusted when you are under stress because your thinking will not be at its best. This leads us nicely to our second natural stress relief habit.

2. Mind Mastery

The single most important thing you can do to relieve stress is to take charge of your mind. Stress is the result of how you respond to what is happening in your life. If you change your response you will relieve the stress you are feeling.

This may sound simple but unfortunately, it is far from simple. It is a practice, however, that once learned will serve you throughout your life.

A lot of what happens in your life is beyond your control. To manage your stress levels you need to let go of what you can’t control. There may be some things that you can do in relation to what you can’t control, e.g you cannot stop a pandemic, but you can keep yourself as safe as possible.

Take action over what you can do and then keep your thoughts as positive as possible. Affirmations, mantras and even song clips are valuable if your mind is in a very negative loop. It helps to have something positive to quickly replace the negative thoughts that increase your stress. “Every little thing’s gonna be all right,” by Bob Marley is a great choice for this, but be specific as well. Watch your thoughts and if they are not going to serve you to reduce your stress challenge them. If you’re worried about not being good enough, keep telling yourself that “I’ve got this,” and find examples to back it up so that you convince yourself that it’s true.

3. Exercise

Exercise is an important habit to manage stress for a number of reasons. Exercise produces endorphins and endorphins are your body’s natural feel-good chemicals, so use them to keep stress under control.

It’s easier to stop negative thoughts from surging through your mind if you’re walking or running in nature. If you still find it difficult, stick in some headphones and play your favourite music.

Exercise will help you to sleep better and feel better about yourself. It will also help mop up excess calories from any stress eating that might creep in.

4. Meditation

There are various kinds of meditation and they can help to manage stress by relaxing your body and giving your mind a break from fearful thoughts.

Stress is largely your fears about what might happen in the future and meditation helps keep you focused on the present. You don’t have to be 100% still to meditate. Any activity where your mind is deeply focused can be a form of meditation. Mindfully walking or running in nature, yoga, or cycling can relieve stress if your mind is firmly focused in the present

5. Keep a healthy Work/Life Balance

Unfortunately, a healthy work/life balance is often the first thing to go during a period of high stress. Keeping a healthy work/life balance is an important preventer of distress, but it is also an important thing to maintain or regain if you become overstressed. You may be suffering from having worked too hard for too long. Rebalance by taking a few days sick-leave if you can, doctors are generally very open to giving you time off work for stress, and confidentiality laws mean that no one at work needs to know why you are off work unless you want them to.

Most work goes through periods of intensity but if those periods keep going, they can become the norm and that is unsustainable. Guard your work/life balance carefully. It’s necessary for you to be able to sustain a realistic workload over the long haul. The unfortunate result of not doing this is burnout and that can be a difficult thing to come back from. Set boundaries around times of extra work and stick to them. If your job or your business cannot work with that, something deeper may need to be looked at.

6. Food and Drink

Stress eating is common because food is often used as a comforter. If you do this you are doing yourself a disservice because keeping to a mostly healthy diet is important in maintaining healthy stress levels. Eating badly will increase stress levels because it inevitably leaves you feeling depleted of energy, unwell, overweight, and unattractive.

Choose to relieve tension and other uncomfortable stress-related feelings in healthy ways rather than digging into a bucket of ice-cream, or drinking a bottle of wine. Have your healthy stress-relieving activities ready to go so you can do something beneficial just as easily as you can head for the fridge.

7. Learn Choice Theory

How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety Effectively

 

Dr William Glasser was a psychiatrist who was a strong advocate of natural stress relief. He didn’t believe that stress and anxiety are illnesses but rather mistaken thinking that can be corrected by choosing better behaviours, especially better thinking.

If you would like to learn more about this head over to courses.choicetheory.org.   You can learn more about Choice Theory there, sign up for regular updates or check out our online stress and anxiety course.

But Before You Go….

Please leave a comment if you think this information is valuable. Your comment will help others, help me to provide useful content, and help Google to find us.

Thanks so much

 

Deb 🌻

Ways to Deal With Stress

how to deal with stress

Look for the Needs that you aren’t Meeting Successfully

ways to deal with stressThere are many ways to deal with stress but most of them just deal with symptoms. Few strategies will help you deal with the underlying causes of your stress.

When you are asked why you are stressed out and anxious you can probably come up with something outside of yourself to blame: your job, your kids, the strange guy in accounts, your husband or even your mother. But what if the things or the people that you believe are causing your stress are only symptoms of stress, that is actually caused by one or more of your basic needs being not being met?

Everyone has the Same Basic Needs

Everyone has the same five basic needs to differing degrees.

  • Survival
    • Enough money
    • A roof over your head
    • Health
    • The ability to have children if you choose
    • Air, food water and room to move
  • Love and Belonging
    • Companionship
    • Intimacy
    • Community
  • Power
    • Acknowledgement
    • Success
    • Achievement
  • Freedom
    • Independence
    • Self-determination
  • Fun
    • Joy
    • Learning things that interest you
    • Pleasure

You are Always Trying to Meet your Needs

ways to deal with stressEverything you do every day is an attempt to meet one or more of your needs. You eat, sleep, breath, drink for your survival but you also do some of these things for fun. You could survive on a very basic diet, but you also eat for pleasure. You work to put a roof over your head and food on the table, but work should also meet your power, fun and love and belonging needs.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and Anxiety occur when you are not sufficiently meeting one or more of your needs.

  • If your workload is too high and as a result, you aren’t able to do your job properly you may be stressed. If you have high power needs this will stress you much more than a person with low power needs, who will find it easier to shrug it off or negotiate a better deal.
  • If you are separated from your friends and family and you have a high need for love and belonging, you will be stressed.
  • The loss of a job can impact a number of your needs depending on what was most important to you about your job. If the thing you enjoyed most about your job was the people you worked with, your love and belonging needs will take a hit. If the idea of not having your regular pay-check coming in is terrifying, then you have high survival needs. If you feel useless without your job, then your power needs will have be affected. Something as important as a job may affect a number of needs at once.

Getting to the Bottom of your Stress and Anxiety

ways to deal with stress
Photo by Deden Dicky Ramdhani from Pexels

In order to address what need or needs are not being met, you have to take a thoughtful look at the areas of stress in your life, look at what control you have over the situation and what you are prepared to do about it.

Remember you can only control yourself. No matter how much you think someone else should change, the reality is that you can’t make them change. Of course, you can discuss the situation and try to negotiate change. In some cases, this may be enough to bring about changes that mean your needs can be met. Problem solved.

When you can’t Change a Situation

When you can’t change a situation or another person’s behaviour, then you are only three things that you can change: –

  • Your behaviour (including your thoughts)
  • Your perception about what is happening
  • Your quality world picture

How to Change your Behaviour

For most people, behaviour is the easiest thing to change.  What you are currently doing in response to the stressful situation or person, is obviously not working well enough for you. If it was you wouldn’t be feeling stressed and/or anxious. What could you do instead that might meet your needs better?

Could you Change your Perception?

Sometimes it is just the way you are looking at something which is actually causing you stress. Observe your thoughts about the situation and challenge their accuracy. Ask people whose opinions you value what they think.

Your Quality World Pictures

Quality World Pictures are the ideas you carry around about how things should be in order for you to be happy, safe and peaceful. Sometimes these things are unrealistic and you might need to change a QWP. A common example of this is when someone very important dies. While everyone grieves the loss of a loved one, some people find it much harder to move on with their life because their QWP includes the person they have lost. They believe they cannot be happy with anyone else. The best way for them to address their stress would be to replace the person they have lost in their QWPs, with someone who has similar qualities.

No Magic Pill But ….

These strategies will address the underlying causes of your stress but they won’t do it overnight. It is not easy to change behaviours that you may have been using for a long time or to change the way you have looked at something for perhaps your whole life. Go easy on yourself, be kind to yourself and nurture yourself while you are making these important changes.

Download a Need’s Profile

If you are serious about dealing with excess stress you will download a Need’s Profile in the Sidebar. This will enable you to hone in on the needs that you are not meeting and are therefore causing your stress. You will also receive useful emails giving you strategies to further understand this process of relieving stress by understanding and meeting your needs.

How to Deal With Stress and Anxiety Effectively

Overcome Stress & Anxiety Forever

If you are feeling stressed and you would like some immediate,  support you can do our online course which is a combination of videos, activities and one-on-one support. CLICK HERE

Thanks for reading 😊

As always if you have any questions, comments or feedback we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Your comments help others by your sharing and they also help this post to rank in Google where people can find it amongst all the online noise. So if this is something you think is valuable please take the time to leave a comment below before you go.

Thanks again

Deb🌻

How To Deal With Stress and Anxiety

Happiness

If you are still trying to figure out how to deal with stress and anxiety effectively I have the single most important strategy. Ready? Here goes….

Focus On The One Thing You Can Control

How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety

The Only Thing You Can Control

There is only one thing in life that you can truly control and that is yourself. If you don’t believe me make a list of all the things and people that you think you can control. What you will find is that the people you think you have control over are actually choosing to co-operate with you. You might think you have control of your finances, but a pandemic, a bush fire, or a health emergency can upset that perceived control very quickly. You only have control over your car while you are driving it safely but even then someone could cross over into your lane and wipe you out.

I would have saved myself years of wasted effort if I had known this while I tried to control my ex-husband.

Are you wasting your precious time stressing out and becoming anxious over things that you have no control over? Even though you know logically that your upset and angst is not going to change a situation one iota, do you seem to believe that your response is justified and maybe even required?

The Pay-offs

Responding to a situation with excessive stress and anxiety does have some rewards. It may be a matter of principle for you. If you see injustice and violence you may have an underlying belief that requires you to be deeply affected because that is how you believe a good, righteous and caring person would respond. So you are behaving in line with your thoughts about yourself, even though those thoughts are causing you to feel awful emotionally, and maybe even physically.

Another payoff for your chosen behaviour, and yes, all behaviour is chosen, is the sympathy and attention you will elicit from people who care about you. You can even join groups on Facebook and have strangers engage with you sympathetically.

But I do Not Want to Feel Life This!!

Feelings do not occur in a vacuum. Feeling are created from behaviours and one of your most important behaviours is your thinking. All behaviours are chosen to meet one of the five basic needs, that everyone has to varying degrees: Survival, Love and Belonging, Fun, Freedom and Power (acknowledgement and achievement). The good news is that if you don’t like the way you are feeling, it is possible to change your behaviours and especially your thoughts.

Let’s Put it into Practice

So the question is: what is the primary need are you trying to meet by stressing and becoming anxious over something that you cannot control? Take the Pandemic for example.

If you are stressed out and anxious over the pandemic, it is possibly because your survival needs have been threatened. There is nothing you can do about the pandemic, but there are things you can do about your survival needs during a pandemic: –

  • You could stay home as much as possible;
  • You could maintain social distancing, wear a mask and hands when you are out;
  • You can do everything you can to pandemic proof your finances;
  • You can be vigilant over your thoughts to remain optimistic, peaceful and grateful for all that is still right in the world;
  • You can maintain all your good physical health practices especially exercise because of the endorphins it produces.

It Is Enough

Only being able to control yourself in a great big world might not seem like much but it is plenty. Understanding what your biggest needs are and learning how best to meet them is the key to maintaining your wellbeing no matter what is going on around you. You may not be able to have everything you want but you can generally have everything that you need. There are so many different ways to meet you needs once you understand what they are.

You can download a Needs Profile Checklist in the sidebar. This will show you the needs that are most important to you and that are most likely to cause you stress and anxiety if they are not met successfully. If you’re serious about dealing with your stress and anxiety download the checklist and I’ll email you more information on how to successfully meet your needs.

If you have been through the Needs Profile and you would like more support in managing your stress and anxiety check out our course: How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety Effectively.

Thanks for reading 😊

As always if you have any questions, comments or feedback we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Your comments help others by your sharing and they also help this post to rank in Google where people can find it amongst all the online noise. So if this is something you think is valuable please take the time to leave a comment below before you go.

Thanks again

Deb🌻

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Choice Theory – My Story

Deb and Jeff

 

Deb and Jeff

If I had known Choice Theory when I was younger I would have saved myself literally years of trying to meet my needs in some really dumb ways, with often disastrous results. This is a difficult post to write because it’s based on my story and it’s exposing. I won’t go into all the gory details but I want to summarise the basics of Choice Theory which have made a huge difference to the way I live my life. I’m writing it because I hope it can save other people from having to go through what I have, to get their lives working properly.

Ineffectively trying to Meet Needs

I grew up with high power needs in an environment with very few ways to meet them. It was a time when parents were quick to criticise and slow to praise, at least directly. I was pretty much doomed from the start.

I spent the first fifteen years of my adult life trying to meet my power needs via the success and adoration of my first husband. While that strategy worked for a while, eventually it wasn’t enough and my mental health began to suffer significantly. In my mid-thirties I was diagnosed and hospitalised with bi-polar disorder and told I would have to be medicated for the rest of my life.

I might not have known Choice Theory then, but I knew medication wasn’t going to work for me so I set about curing my “bi-polar disorder”. It took me over ten years, but I believe I have done that, although I know my behaviours can still cause bi-polar behaviours to recur. If I had been introduced to Choice Theory I’m sure I would have made the connection between my behaviours and my mental health a lot faster.

Stop Groping Around in The Dark

Accurately Meeting Your NeedsWithout having a good understanding of my needs I see now that I was groping around in the dark, grabbing at any bright, shiny thing that I thought might give my life the meaning, happiness and peace I was desperately searching for.

Recently I’ve been writing articles for other people to use on their websites. I’ve had to make our Personal Need’s profile available for those people because just about every article comes back to pinpointing what people’s individual needs are and how they might be able to meet them. Life really is about meeting our needs and the better we are able to focus in on that the more successful we will be in all areas of our life. You can download your own Need’s Profile in the sidebar so you can target  your needs more accurately, if this is an issue for you.

Focusing on What You Can Control

The only thing we can control is our behaviour and the most important behaviour to control is our thinking. This is because the actions we choose are a result of our thoughts. We can choose thinking that serves us, or thoughts that set us back. This has taken me ages to come to grips with because I didn’t think that I could control the things that I most needed to, in order to meet my needs. I believed I had very little real control over my life. I even made myself more powerless by giving myself a so-called mental illness. Instead of focusing on meeting my own needs I spent much of my life trying to “fix” others. Not surprisingly that didn’t  work so well.

Taking Responsibility

We can only give ourself the power to change our situation if we take responsibility for our part in creating it. Blaming someone else is a huge barrier to change because we relinquish our own power, and  avoid self-evaluating and choosing more effective behaviours.

Self-Evaluation

Self-EvaluationThe behaviours we choose to meet our needs determine how successful our life will be. If our mental health is not what it should be chances are we are not meeting our needs very effectively.

WDEP

In the end Willian Glasser, creator or Choice Theory, tied everything up very neatly in his simple four step strategy:

  • What do you want?
  • What are you Doing to get it?
  • Evaluate (i.e. how is that working for you?)
  • Plan (to meet your needs as best you can)

Even after meeting Jeff it took a few years for me to fully embrace Choice Theory and the work of William Glasser. The mental health industry has made mental health so complex and Dr Glasser made it so unbelievably simple that I found it difficult to grasp its depth. In fact if I hadn’t experienced its value first hand maybe I still wouldn’t have. There are after all, still many bright, shiny and expensive solutions out there.

If you don’t want to learn Choice Theory for yourself learn it for your kids and give them a great start in life.

Solstice Special

Whether you’re entering the winter solstice as we are in Australia, or you’re in the northern hemisphere and are entering the summer solstice; I wanted to acknowledge this as a period of change in the hope that as a global community we are moving into happier times. To do this we’re giving out a 50% discount coupon over this solstice period, for our course “How to deal with Stress and Anxiety Effectively”. This course is different because it uses Choice Theory to deal with the underlying causes of stress and anxiety as well as depression and so much more.

Even if you aren’t Stressed and Anxious

At a 50% discount this course is great value even if you don’t suffer from stress and anxiety because it includes the core components of Choice Theory that will benefit you in your relationships with your family, your friends and even in your workplace.

  • The Needs that Drive all our Behaviour
  • Our Quality World
  • Our Perceived World
  • Our Comparing Place
  • What Do I have Control Over ?
  • What can I Change ?
  • The Road Forward

These seven modules are basic Choice Theory and comprise nearly half of the course. Being proactive and learning these core facets of Choice Theory may mean that you will never have to live through severe stress and anxiety. You will certainly improve your mental health, your wellbeing and the quality of your life. To get the course with the 50% discount click any of the links, including right here, I know you’ll be glad that you did👍

Thanks for reading, have a great week and an even greater life.

 

Deb 😊 💐

Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety

flight response

symptoms of stress and anxietyThe physiological symptoms effects of stress and anxiety can be scary, especially if we don’t understand what’s happening to our body. By understanding what’s happening in our body when we’re stressed or anxious, and where it comes from, the effects are much less distressing. We realise that the physiological effects are perfectly normal and developed as survival mechanisms to keep us alive when we were under threat.

External Threats

The trouble is that our stress responses developed in relation to external threats. They developed to keep us safe from anything outside of ourselves likely to impact us and perhaps directly threaten our survival. In ancient times that might have been a wild animal, in modern times it could be a car coming towards us that we think might not stop, or an intruder in our home.

These kinds of threats trigger the primitive parts of our brain, which are responsible for our survival.  The modern parts of our brain, are much slower to react.  Our modern brain can analyse and plan but it is too slow to respond when there is an immediate threat. When we’re exposed to a serious and immediate threat the primitive brain takes over with the flight, fight response; that’s all it can do.

 

Flight/Fight Response

flight responseWe fight when our primitive brain thinks we can win, or we are cornered and have no choice.  We will flee when our primitive brain thinks that we can’t win. In reality, fight/ flight are the same thing, like a coin that you flip. Heads or tails are still the same coin. Do we deal with our problem by running away or by fighting? Whether we choose to flee or fight the physiology is the same and are the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Symptoms

The symptoms we experience when we are severely stressed are not a sign that our body is collapsing under the weight of all the stress and anxiety, but a sign that our old brain is in charge and gearing up to deal with an external threat.

  • Rapid heart rate and breathing, (pounding heart and hyperventilating) – Our heart is pumping and we’re breathing more quickly and heavily,  helping to move nutrients and oxygen out to your major muscle groups.
  • Pale or  flushed skin, our blood flow is being redirected to where we need it most, so we might appear pale. Alternatively, we could appear flushed as blood and hormones circulate throughout our body.
  • Dilated pupils. pupils may dilate to take in more light so that we can see better.
  • Edginess, we will feel on edge because we are in a state of hyper-vigilance. Unfortunately, we see this with young children living in violent and abusive situations, they are always looking and listening for threats.
  • Confused thinking, occurs when we are operating from the older parts of our brain. This symptom is particularly upsetting for people who are stressed at work because their performance drops which make them even more anxious, stressed, and lacking in confidence.  Memory can be affected in order to protect us from, particularly disturbing events.
  • Tenseness or trembling. When Stress hormones are circulating throughout our body, we might feel tense or twitchy, like our muscles are about to move at any given moment.
  • Nausea and inability to eat. Under threat, our body winds back or switches off the digestive stem because it uses a lot of energy.  The blood supply to our stomach is reduced, reducing our appetite and leaving us with an empty, hollow squirming feeling.

Any of these symptoms can be disturbing and increase our stress and anxiety even further if we don’t understand them. The only thing that is actually wrong with us is that our body is treating our stress and anxiety as if it is an external threat rather than an internal one created by our fears and perceptions about what is going on around us.

If the threat was external, if we had to fight or flee from something, the physical activity and the sense of victory or relief would turn off the fight/fight response because our body would be flooded with endorphins and oxytocin. When the threats are internal we remain in a state of fight/flight.

Internal Threats

Internal Stress
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

When the threats in our life are internal, they are the result of our needs not being satisfactorily met. We all have five basic needs:  survival, love and belonging, freedom, fun, power. When those needs are under threat; when we can’t meet them or something is happening that might take them away, the primitive brain responds in the same way it would if we were under physical attack.  The primitive brain doesn’t know the difference between something that is internal or external and the only responses it has is to fight or to flee. The same physiological short-term effects or symptoms are triggered but we can’t run away from ourselves.

Long Term Effects of Stress

  • An enlarged heart, coronary heart disease, caused by continual overworking of the heart.
  • Muscle pain, tearing, or atrophy. In chronic stress, muscles may remain in a near-constant state of tension, which eventually leads to pain, tissue damage, and headaches. If we respond to this pain by reducing physical activity, muscles may begin to atrophy through lack of use, and obesity may develop with all its associated health impacts.
  • A Compromised immune system, due to our body being continually fired up to fight infection.
  • Poor brain function. “Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia,” said Dr. Linda Mah, clinician scientist with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute.
  • Menstrual problems  and sexual dysfunction due to ongoing hormonal imbalances

The list above is in no way comprehensive. The long-term effects of stress on the body are so vast that they are outside the scope of this article. If you have concerns about your own health outcomes and how they may be linked to stress, you would be wise to research the particular condition you are suffering from.

Short Term and Long Term Stress Relievers

Most of the information available about stress relief deals with short-term stress relievers, such as mindfulness, meditation, exercise, diet etc. We call this stress first-aid and while it is useful in the overall management of stress it will generally only deal with the symptoms of stress and not the underlying causes. This short video clearly illustrates how important it is to understand what is actually causing our stress so that we can take action to address it.

Take Action

Deal with Stress & Anxiety Effectively
Online Stress and Anxiety Course

The cumulative effects of constant short term stress, which are not dealt with effectively, lead to serious and sometimes irreversible physiological changes. Our online course “How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety Effectively,”  helps you to further understand what those changes are, and begin the process of developing a tool kit to identify the early warning signals of distress. Dealt with early and effectively you can avoid the worst of the effects, and even if you already have long term effects, many of them are reversible with more effective behaviour.

 

 

How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

stress and anxiety
stress

Not all stress is bad in fact, we all need some stress in our lives. Too much stress, however, is very unpleasant and can cause nasty physical symptoms. This is distress, and if it isn’t addressed, these physical symptoms get worse and can undermine our overall health.

Physical symptoms can include things like muscle pain, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, chest pain, high blood pressure, and more. Unaddressed these symptoms can, in themselves, cause even more stress as we not only stress over the initial stressor but also over the stress symptoms we are experiencing. If we don’t take action a vicious cycle develops.

Because stress can impact our physical and mental health if we don’t address it, we want to have stress relief solutions that we can rely on as part of a routine. If we’re proactive about stress, we can manage it better. The problem is that often when we are distressed we let go of the very things that are stress relievers, e.g. we stop exercising, we start eating unhealthily, we let our minds loose at night, and then have trouble sleeping.

Mind Mastery

Think About Things Differently

Mastering our mind is the single most important thing we can do to relieve stress and anxiety. Nothing that happens to use is innately stressful. Stress is always the result of how we respond to what is happening, or what has happened to us. If we can change our minds, we can literally change our lives.

This sounds simple but it is far from simple. Mind mastery is a practice that we can and should employ throughout our lives. Mastering our mind goes hand in hand with a growth mindset and the first step is to acknowledge that it is the most important thing we can do to take charge of our lives.

A great deal of what happens in our lives is beyond our control. All we can, or should even attempt to control, is ourselves. This is a tall order because the illusion of being able to change others seems easier. How often do we say things like “he makes me”, or “if only she didn’t then…”? These statements all reinforce to us that if something outside of ourselves was different, we would be different. Perhaps we would, for a while, but we would not have solved our problem, only avoided it until next time someone behaves in that way.

Four Days to Feeling Better Mini-Course

If you are feeling stressed and anxious right now, try our Four Days to Feeling Better Mini-Course. It will help you to reduce stress and take charge of your life over the next four days. Signing up will also put you on our email list so that when our new digital course Managing Stress, is released you will be one of the first to know.

Managing our mind is the single most important thing we can do to manage stress and anxiety, however, there are other things that we can do too.

Exerciselife is like riding a bicycle

Exercise is a great way to keep stress under control. This is because exercising gives us a boost in endorphins, our feel-good chemicals, and reduces the amount of cortisol, which is linked to stress.

Meditation

Learning meditation techniques can prevent stress from escalating because it can relax the body and keep emotions calm. Meditation can give us relief from whatever is stressing us out. The practice gives us the ability to be centred and prevents our responses to little irritations from turning into major stressors.

How To Be The Best We Can Be

Meditation helps to keep us centred in the present, and we don’t have to sit in a chair, or cross-legged on the floor to meditate.  Yoga combines meditation and exercise, as does walking or running in nature. Even cycling can be a stress reliever because our mind has to be firmly in the present and on the road ahead.

Keep a Healthy Work/Life Balance

It’s important that we remember to leave room in our schedules to do the activities that relax us and give us a break from responsibilities. This means learning to say no to anything that would encroach on our downtime and zap our energy.

Setting limits means understanding what we’re capable of dealing with before we allow our minds to go into stress mode. Often the first thing that we skimp on is sleep, whether that’s due to pulling all-nighters or allowing our mind to run rampant so that we can’t sleep even though we want to. Stress is more likely to be an issue when we don’t get enough sleep, or we don’t get the restful sleep that rejuvenates us.

Food and Drink

Many of us have learned to use food as a comforter, when in fact maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of our mental health hygiene. Eating poorly increases stress because it can make us feel unwell, unattractive, overweight, and lethargic. Making the choice to relieve tension in a healthy way, rather than stuffing a box of donuts down our throat, is something we need to learn if we are to effectively manage stress. The same goes for alcohol and sports drinks.

Therapies

Jeff Steedman
Jeff Steedman – Riviera Counselling

We can talk about whatever is stressing us with a loved one or therapist. We might even choose to write it out in a journal or embark on art therapy. Gardening, cooking, sculpting, pottery; literally anything that absorbs us in the present and is enjoyable for us should not be overlooked as part of our mental health hygiene arsenal.  Practicing calming techniques such as deep breathing, visualisation and the reframing of our thoughts are also useful.

Learn How to Manage Stress and Anxiety Effectively

Live your best life. Register for our online course How to Deal Effectively with Stress and Anxiety and learn how to deal with the underlying causes of your stress and anxiety. 

Thanks for reading 🙂

Deb