Life is full of daily stressors that lead to stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, the responses we choose to relieve negative feelings aren’t always constructive. Here we’re going to discuss life’s stressors and provide you with a few quick tips to help put stress and negativity in its place!
When Stress Escalates to Fear and Anxiety
Have you ever marveled at how quickly feelings of stress can escalate to feelings of anxiety? Maybe you forgot to study for a test, your gas tank is nearly empty, or you think you’ll be late for an important appointment. These are the kinds of typically frustrating, yet non-life threatening situations that often lead to frantic feelings and even panic attacks.
In some cases we’re so used to feeling anxious that this mood state feels normal. Make no mistake about it, a chronic state of anxiety eats away at life’s joy, diminishing the pleasure we would otherwise feel when happy or delighted.
Moods are Contagious
Moods and states of mind can be contagious. Have you ever encountered a rude store clerk and felt upset or angry afterward? Perhaps you can recall a time when you absorbed the sad mood of a friend who was feeling down in the dumps. Experiences like these tend to have a ripple effect, often resulting in more frustrating and aggressive interactions and, in turn, spreading the same bothersome feelings to others. Sadly, these snap reactions are so instantaneous that we transmit our negative emotions without even realizing it.
Feeling stressed is often accompanied by a vague sense of fear which is characterized by irritability, annoyance, self-criticism, judgment, perfectionism and resentment. Such feelings reduce our ability to filter our responses and increase our likeliness to lash out.
Dealing With Stress
It’s impossible to stop negative thoughts and feelings from arising, nor would we want to. Such reactions signal that all is not right in our world, giving us the opportunity to reflect on and address what is troubling us. Once we process what’s underneath the surface, it is possible to channel these emotions and cognitions in healthy, productive ways.
Countless coping methods exist to help us deal with stress before it spirals out of control. Here are a few suggestions to try the next time you feel it coming on.
Push Your Pause Button
When emotions start to take over, push pause. While it may take some practice, if you stay committed, you’ll be pushing pause like a pro.
Start right now by imagining yourself in a stressful situation. First, pause and take three deep breaths to help curb your stress response. Next, think about your options and give yourself the power to choose how you will respond to the situation. By doing this, you eliminate instinctual fear, anger, or anxiety and take conscious action instead.
Take a Moment to Monitor Your Physical Response
Get out of your head and into your body by recognizing any physical sensations taking place, such as shortness of breath or chest tightness. Next, dive deep and feel the sensation, taking those three deep breaths we talked about earlier.
The key here is to identify and accept the sensation instead of trying to push it away or stop it. Conscious breathing will allow you to relax into the feeling. Over time, you should notice the unwanted phenomena fading.
Shift Your Energy From Negative to Neutral
Now that you’ve recognized your state of mind, calmed down your physical response, and chosen a reaction strategy, it’s time to reclaim your power! This process involves shifting away from feelings of negativity and at the very least reclaiming a sense of neutrality.
Stress stirs up all sorts of unproductive emotions and fears. Instead of falling victim to these feelings, remind yourself that you are in control and redirect your thinking. Remember, you are not powerless. While you may not have the ability to control someone else’s behavior, you can always choose your own.
Use Rituals to Shift Your Mindset
When you need to shift your mindset, engage in a ritual that makes you happy, like playing your favorite song, and dancing out the negative energy. If you can’t do that, try shaking off the negative feelings by shaking your hands out as if they’re full of water, and imagine that you’re dispersing your stress.
Remember to always be patient with yourself. Trying out new ideas takes practice but you absolutely have the power to bring about change—it’s an inherent part of what makes you human!
Don’t Hesitate to Reach out for Help
Stress is often compounded by untreated substance use and/or mental health disorders. While the suggestions mentioned above are helpful, there is always professional help available should you decide you need it.
Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way is a major part of addiction and mental health recovery. At Starbent Recovery, we prioritize stress management by teaching our clients a variety of coping strategies. Our experienced professionals are dedicated to guiding and supporting our clients as they navigate new ways of living. If you are ready to make a change, Starbent Recovery is here to help. Call us today, at (800) 673-0176.