Are You Stressing Yourself Out? 5 Ways To Gain Control And Embrace Balance

When I was younger, I was in a constant state of stress and overload. From dealing with the toxicity of my high-level corporate job, juggling the needs of my little children (for whom I desperately wanted to be more present and engaged), to not having any time to relax or rejuvenate, I grew chronically ill, depleted and depressed. And stress was the reason. But back then, I believed there was nothing I could do about any of it. Now I know better.

Dealing with stress effectively is a life-long process – of learning about and accepting yourself, understanding what you value, and gaining awareness of your triggers. The more you engage in this process of self-discovery and self-mastery, the more powerful you become in mitigating stress and dealing with it in life-supporting ways.

First of all, what is stress?

Stress is necessary for life, and for creativity, learning, and survival. It’s a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance or status quo. It’s also the body’s way of protecting you, by helping you stay focused, energetic, and alert. When we sense danger of any kind – whether real or imagined – we tend to move into a “fight, fight or frozen” reactions, and both “positive” and “negative” or common events can contribute to these reactions.

Stress becomes harmful when it becomes overwhelming or chronic. When that’s the case, stress overwhelm can cause major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, functioning, and quality of life. And chronic, everyday stress can be as damaging as stress from a traumatic incident. My stress led me to lack the physical ability to fight off infections, and I experienced painful, chronic tracheal infections for four years that left me exhausted and drained. And the treatments of continuous antibiotics left me weaker. (Interestingly, from the day I was laid off from my toxic corporate job after 9/11, I have not experienced one tracheal infection.)

How can you gain control of your stress level?

It’s critical to gain awareness of where your stress is coming from, and understand how you are exacerbating it by your thinking and behavior.

I’ve seen in my own life and in working with hundreds of women, that we can take an already challenging situation and make it much worse and damaging.

Are you making yourself more stressed? Do you…

– Worry about things that are out of your control

– Dwell only on the negatives

– Catastrophize and imagine the worst

– Criticize yourself mercilessly

– Hold yourself and others to unrealistic standards

– Take on too many responsibilities that are impossible to manage

– Engage in “below the line” thinking – pessimistic, fatalistic beliefs and mindsets that tell you there’s nothing you can do and no one who can help to make things better?

If so, realize that managing stress is all about taking charge of:

  • your thoughts
  • your emotions
  • your schedule
  • your environment
  • your relationships
  • the way you deal with challenges and problems

The ultimate goal of dealing with your stress more effectively, I believe, is a balanced, whole-self life, with time and energy for meaningful work, relationships, relaxation, fun and YOU – plus having the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet the challenges you want to face head on, with awareness, courage and strength.

Here are five steps you can take starting today to change how you respond to life’s challenges and to reduce and manage your stress:

1. Avoid unnecessary stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. But there are many stressors you can eliminate. First, you need to know when and how to say “No!” – to people who stress you out, and to environmental factors that overwhelm you. For instance, avoid hot-topic buttons with your family over the dinner table. Don’t let yourself engage in discussions that will inevitably end in fist fights. Also, force yourself to pare down your to-do list. Stop your perfectionistic overfunctoning. Control your environment and say “no” to hosting 30 people for dinner if that’s just too much for you. Accept yourself, learn what stresses you, and begin to erect powerful boundaries that help you honor who you are authentically. Stop spreading yourself too thin and exposing yourself to experiences that make you feel overwhelmed, resentful, angry and out of control. You don’t have to live up to someone else’s standards anymore. You’re you and you’re more than enough.

2. Alter the situation

Figure out what you can do to change things so the problems you’re facing don’t present themselves in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life. Begin to express your feelings productively rather than bottling them up and letting them fester. Confront the issues rather than hide from them, but be willing to compromise. (Learn more about the power of fearless confrontation). My favorite sentiment about the importance of speaking up and telling a critical truth to someone is from renowned author, speaker, and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown who has shared this motto – “I choose discomfort over resentment.” I now live by this motto, and it’s truly freeing.

3. Adapt to the stressor

If the stressor is here to stay, adapt to it. Find a way to reframe the problem so that it doesn’t break you. Look at the big picture, and see what this challenge might be teaching you that will benefit your growth in the future. Adjust your perfectionist standards, for instance, and reshape your attitude so that you can embrace what’s happening and learn from it, instead of resist and fight it. And eliminate absolute words in your vocabulary such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.“ These are telltale marks of self-defeating, self-hating thoughts and mindsets. And most of all, learn to forgive – yourself and others.

4. Make time for fun and relaxation – and for you

In my work with high-achieving professional women, I see firsthand that the LAST thing that women prioritize is themselves. They leave no time to nurture and recharge, to have fun, to be creative, silly, free, and to simply relish life. It’s all about striving, stretching, achieving, and accomplishing.

For a healthy, happy life, you have to nurture and love yourself, and treat yourself well, and you do that by:

  • Committing to fun, healthy ways to relax and recharge.
  • Setting aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule.
  • Connecting with others you love, respect and admire. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life.
  • Doing something you enjoy each and every day.
  • Keeping your sense of humor.
  • Introducing stress relief into your life each day, and tapping into and relishing each your senses.
  • Bringing gratitude and happiness to the forefront.

5. Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Finally, to handle the stressors in your life effectively, increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

  • Exercise regularly. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress.
  • Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. Reduce coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, and you’ll feel more relaxed and sleep better.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary and damage is likely to occur in the long run.
  • Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.

Remember – Stress management is within your control.

When you accept full responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining stress, your stress level will finally become within your control.

For this holiday season and beyond, I hope you’ll make a commitment to yourself that you will not let your stress reactions get the better of you. Instead of fight or flight, build a new, more effective reaction to stressful situations – one that reflects your authentic self at your best, with the highest degree of balance, wisdom, courage, and self-love.

To build a more rewarding, successful career, visit KathyCaprino.com and The Amazing Career Project.

18 Ways to Calm Down When You’re Stressed

April 9, 2018 6 min read

It goes without saying that starting and growing a business is a stressful undertaking. At every stage of the game, you’ll be faced with new challenges. You don’t want to burn bridges by saying or doing something you regret when you feel fried or frustrated — or even worse, burn out completely.

So what steps can you take to keep your cool? Read on for 18 tips to calm down when you’re stressed out.

Related video: 3 Tips to Become a Better Leader

Take a deep breath.

Image credit: Lauri Rotko | Folio Images | Getty Images All it takes are a few simple steps. Harvard Medical School recommends choosing a place where you feel relaxed and like you can clear your head. Then begin by taking a normal breath. “Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs,” Harvard says. “Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).”

Laugh.

Image credit: Nick David | Getty Images

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing and looking for the humor in things is so beneficial that it can ease physical pain, boost your immune system, help you make connections with other people and aid with coping with anxiety and depression.

Get a massage.

Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

A 2005 study from the University of Miami noted that cortisol levels (the chemical that the body produces when you’re in a stressful or frightening situation) decreased following massage therapy.

Do a mental scan of your body.

Image credit: Westend61 | Getty Image

Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder of meditation app Headspace, told Entrepreneur that if you’re stressed, shut your eyes and for 30 seconds, do a mental scan of your body, from the top of your head to your feet. “By shifting the focus to physical senses, you are stepping out of the thinking mind and bringing the mind into the body, which immediately has a calming effect,” he said.

Show gratitude.

Image credit: Christian Horz | EyeEm | Getty Images Consider keeping a gratitude journal so you can have something concrete to refer to when anxiety starts to get you down. A study from the University of California San Diego found that people who were grateful had healthier hearts. “They showed a better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue and they slept better,” study author Paul J. Mills told Today. “When I am more grateful, I feel more connected with myself and with my environment. That’s the opposite of what stress does.”

Sing.

Image credit: Javier Muoz | EyeEm | Getty Images Give it a try — even if you’re not a songbird, the benefits might surprise you. A 2014 study out of Japan looking at the health of the elderly found that after a group of senior citizens sang, their stress levels decreased and their moods improved, even if they weren’t fans of singing.

The nose knows.

Image credit: Sandra Ludewig | Getty Images A few scents are commonly used to combat stress, in particular, lavender, lemon and jasmine are all known for helping alleviate anxiety and tension. Lavender oil is sometimes used to treat headaches.

Count to 10.

Image credit: mavoimages | Getty Images The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends slowly counting to 10 or 20 to focus your mind on something other than what’s stressing you out. It’s simple but might be a good place to start.

Get some rest.

Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

If you find yourself stressed during the day, consider taking a nap or heading home a little earlier to get to bed at a less late hour. According to the American Psychological Association, “when we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation. Sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood.”

Drink water.

Image credit: Claudia Miranda | EyeEm | Getty Images The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that coffee and alcohol can dehydrate you and make you feel irritable, shaky or stressed out, which can even trigger panic attacks. Instead turn to H2O to stay hydrated.

Warm up your hands.

Image credit: David Burton | Getty Images

During truly anxiety-inducing situations, blood flow is directed to the body’s biggest muscles, leaving your extremities cold. But when blood flows back into your hands and feet, that is a signal that the danger, perceived or otherwise, has passed. “Even simply visualizing warm hands can be enough to help turn off the fight-or-flight reaction,” neuropsychologist Marsha Lucas told Prevention.

Chew gum.

Image credit: Joe Toreno | Getty Images A study from Australia found that chewing gum is associated with reduced anxiety and stress, higher levels of alertness and improved focus.

Get or give a hug.

Image credit: Mike Henry | Getty Images A 2015 study from Carnegie Mellon University found that hugs actually made people less susceptible to getting colds and generally decreased feelings of anxiety. “Hugging protects people who are under stress from the increased risk for colds usually associated with stress,” study author Carnegie Mellon psychology professor Sheldon Cohen told US News and World Report. Hugging “is a marker of intimacy and helps generate the feeling that others are there to help in the face of adversity.”

Eat something with antioxidants.

Image credit: Westend61 | Getty Images According to Harvard Medical School, food high in antioxidants, such as beans, apples, plums, berries, walnuts, broccoli and artichokes, can help ease feelings of stress and anxiety.

Talk it out.

Image credit: Portra | Getty Images The American Psychological Association advises that one of the key ways you can calm down if you’re stressed out is not to go it alone. “When you share your concerns or feelings with another person, it does help relieve stress. But it’s important that the person whom you talk to is someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you.”

Get some exercise.

Image credit: svetikd | Getty Images The Mayo Clinic notes that exercise aids in the production of endorphins, which can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as improve sleep.

Shut off your phone.

Image credit: Yiu Yu Ho | Getty Images

Screen time affects your sleep and not just because of that pesky blue light. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, wrote in Harvard Business Review about a study he conducted concerning sleep and anxiety. “The students who were more anxious about being apart from their phones used their phones more during a typical day, and woke up to check their phones more often at night,” he said. “The latter two results — more daily smartphone use and more nighttime awakenings — led directly to sleep problems.”

Take a hot bath.

Image credit: Sam Edwards | Getty Images

This technique doesn’t just help humans calm down — it does a lot of good for our primate counterparts as well. A recent study of Japanese macaques — those monkeys with grey fur and red faces that live in snowy climes and are often photographed enjoying hot springs — found that those baths aren’t just to warm up. They also reduce the creation of a stress hormone in the monkeys.

I once lived on a farm and when I drove to work, the first part of my drive was on a dirt road on the farm that had a fence on the right side of it and some dense bushes on the left of it so there was only enough room for my car to fit through. One day there was a chicken on the road, so I drove slowly so that I wouldn’t run over the chicken. The chicken didn’t see it that way, though. As I went along at 5 miles per hour, the chicken was freaking out and running for its life. Finally, when the bushes on the left side ended, the chicken ran to the left, escaping the wrath of the car that seemed to be chasing it. It reminded me of that scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark where he takes the golden idol and then it triggers a booby trap that sends a giant boulder down the tunnel rolling towards him. Indiana Jones sprints to the end of the tunnel and barely makes it out before the boulder, narrowly escaping being crushed to death by the boulder. This is stress.

Stress is meant for life or death situations like this. It’s very helpful to recognize that these situations are matters of life or death because this will trigger the fight-or-flight response in the body, stressing you out and making you more prepared to run from your attacker or to fight it off. Unfortunately, our world seems to have changed faster than our bodies and stress response system could change or have changed. We are rarely running away from bears anymore but we still get stressed all the time, like when we watch a movie about someone running away from a bear or when we’re running late for an appointment.

As I drove slowly and watched that poor chicken freak out and run for its life, I thought, “That’s too bad, it’s so stressed out and I’m not even chasing it. I don’t want it to die. I’m not trying to kill it. But it’s running for its life. How inefficient.” Then I realized that I was the chicken and the car was stress. Many of the things that stressed me out were impersonal forces that did not want to make me stressed out but I felt stressed nonetheless. I had even brought many of them upon myself. For example, if I park in metered space for 5 minutes without putting money in the meter and then run into the store and buy something really quickly, then I am a little stressed out for 5 minutes while I wonder and worry that a meter maid will come by and ticket my car. The reason that I sometimes don’t put money in the meter is that I don’t like to spend money unnecessarily. When I told this story to my wise friend, he said, “How much money would you have to put in the meter?” I said, “Probably 25 cents.” He said, “You know what you would be getting for 25 cents? Peace of mind.” I told you he was wise. Peace of mind is worth 25 cents.

I also used to catch myself driving too close to the car in front of me and I noticed that it sort of stressed me out. Of course it stressed me out! Traveling at high speed towards another object that’s very close to you and that you might collide with if it braked suddenly is very stressful. That one comes closer to being a life or death situation than getting a parking ticket but it is also completely avoidable. All I have to do is not worry about going as fast as I absolutely can and not care if a car moves into my lane in front of me. If I drive a little slower, I can avoid all this. I should care more about arriving safely and not being stressed.

You can sidestep a lot of your stress. You are like the chicken. Stress is not chasing you. And you are like Indiana Jones in the tunnel running from a huge boulder that will crush you except that you’re not in a tunnel—you’re just on a hillside. That boulder is still big and scary and it can crush you but you don’t have to run right in front of it. You can just step to the side and watch it roll on by. It’s a much better life.

Here are some tips for coping with stress that I hope help you.

Remind yourself that you probably won’t die from whatever is stressing you out.
The stress reaction is meant to be only for things that will kill you. If it won’t kill you, then don’t let it have so much power over you. Remember that there is no bear chasing you. Be as relaxed as you would be if you just found out that it was a false alarm: There is no bear chasing you.

Exercise.
Stressful situations will arise but they probably aren’t life or death situations. When your body has been tricked into thinking that it is in a life or death situation and is stressing out, then you can undo the stress by tricking your body into thinking that it is dealing with that life-threatening situation by running for its life or fighting for its life. Go for a run. Or hit a punching bag. The body will naturally release the stress. Swimming makes me feel the best even though it’s not much like running or fighting. I feel like I’ve had a massage after I go swimming. And I breathe better too.

Take a deep breath.
As soon as you start to notice the biological signs that you are stressed (shorter breaths, tense shoulders, tight face, etc.), try to reverse them. Take a deep breath, drop your shoulders, relax your face. You can trick your body into being calm. Take a deep breath, sit down and eat a sandwich. Your body will think, “Well, there’s no way I’d be breathing so calmly and sitting down eating a sandwich if I were being chased by a bear right now, therefore I must not be being chased by a bear right now. Whew.”

Stop defending your ego. Your ego isn’t you.
Sticks and stones will break your bones and words will bruise your ego. But egos don’t exist like your bones do. You don’t get rushed to the hospital because of a broken ego. If your ego were to die, you could still go play tennis. Your ego does not need to be defended or need to fight in the way that your body does when it is attacked. You can choose to not feel insulted by words. You can retain your opinion of yourself in spite of what anyone else says about you. If you’re doing the right thing, then relax. Your good karma will take care of you. You don’t need to win every argument, always have the last word, or always have someone acknowledge that you are in the right and they are in the wrong. The best strategy is to not fight. There is room for a thousand flowers to bloom. If there is someone who is constantly trying to make you feel bad about yourself, stand farther away from them. Life is short. Go for the good stuff.

Start talking back to the voice in your head.
We all have voices in our heads, the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening in our world. Sometimes this voice can stress us out. A man steps in front of you in line. The voice says, “That guy has some nerve cutting in front of me in line. Who does he think he is?” It can make you angry. Or the voice can be understanding and say, “I don’t think that guy saw me. I’d better let him know that I was here first.” Start listening to what the voice is saying when it’s stressing you out and replace those stress-inducing thoughts with positive thoughts.

Avoid stressful situations.
This one seems like a no-brainer but many people choose to stay in very stressful jobs or very stressful relationships. Money comes at a price. And your love life should make you happier, not stressed. It’s not always the best idea to stay and try to work through the stress. Sometimes it’s best just to leave the stressful situation.

Don’t create stressful situations for yourself.
Often, my stress is my own doing. Sometimes I get stressed out rushing to be somewhere on time. This can be avoided by leaving earlier. And if I bring a book to read with me so that I have something to do when I get there early, then I won’t feel like I wasted any time by getting there early. Sometimes I get stressed out trying to make a yellow light and worrying that it will turn red on me before I get there. This can be avoided by stopping earlier and not trying to make every single yellow light. Sometimes I get stressed out trying to finish all the food in my fridge before it goes bad because if it goes bad, then I’ll have to throw it away and since I paid for it, I end up feeling like I’m throwing away my money. This could be avoided by buying less food when I go grocery shopping.

Remember that it will pass.
When things are bad, it helps to remember that the situation is temporary and that things will get better at some point. Even if the bad situation cannot reverse itself, the low that you’re feeling at that moment will not stay with you forever. You will not always feel so low. It’s hard to remember spring in the middle of winter, but try.

Do all that you can.
Thinking about bad imaginary situations can be stressful. If you go on vacation and then you realize that you left your front door unlocked, then you might stress out thinking about a thief who might walk into your house and steal all your things. The realization that you left the front door unlocked should stress you out only for a moment. After that, you just have to do something about it, like call your neighbor and ask them to lock your door. Or, if there isn’t anything that you can do about it because your neighbors are on vacation too, then just stop worrying about it. Worrying about it won’t solve your problem. Once worrying has stopped suggesting actions to solve your problem, that’s when you should stop worrying. Once you have fixed your problem or tried to fix your problem, then you can be at peace knowing that you have done all that you can. Move on to the next moment.

Go to a relaxing place.
Nietzsche said that “if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” I think this is also true of Hawaii. And every other relaxing place. When I described the tropical island where I once lived to people, I told them that no matter how low your shoulders are, they drop when you get to Molokai. Find a relaxing place and go there. Look at trees and mountains instead of concrete and steel. Hear the birds and the river instead of the honking and the sirens. Relaxing places will relax you.

Meditate.
On cold days, if I exercise in the morning, then the exercise keeps me warm the whole day, even several hours after I have exercised. In a similar way, I have found that if I meditate in the morning, the calmness stays with me throughout the day. The same events of someone cutting me off while driving, for example, don’t bother me as much on the days that I’ve meditated in the morning.

Sleep.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you are tired and your life quickly becomes worse. You don’t have enough energy for people and tasks. You make poor decisions. You have a shorter amount of patience and reach your wit’s end more quickly than you would otherwise. So make sure you get enough sleep. And help yourself get good sleep. Buy a nice mattress, pillow, blackout curtains, whatever you need.

Get a massage.
Everyone knows that massages make them feel more relaxed but not everyone gets massages or gets them as often as they would like because they treat them as a luxury. Don’t treat them as a luxury. Treat them as a basic need that promotes good health. Get them as often as you can. Treat them like much needed doctor’s appointments. Because they are.

Be in the moment.
Life comes to you in moments. Stay in the moment and dealing with stress will be easier. Stress tries to hog all of the moments. It often pretends to be bigger than one moment. Your test scores come back in a moment but if they are bad, then stress says, “Now you won’t get into your first choice college and you’ll end up with a second rate job and only be able to afford to live in a poor neighborhood with bad schools and your kids will be exposed to greater crime and drugs in the poor neighborhood and…blahblah blahblah blahblah blahblah.” Stress often exaggerates. There is a tale of an old man saying, “I have had a great deal of trouble in my life, but most of it never happened.” Don’t let things that haven’t happened yet stress you out. Wait until they happen. Because they might never happen. Stay in the moment. It’s the only thing that really exists. The rest is imagined. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take precautions. You should take precautions but live in the world that you’re in, the one where nothing bad has happened yet.

Do one thing at a time.
It’s stressful trying to do many things at once and impossible to be in many places at the same time. Commit to doing only one thing at a time. If your desk always had only the one that you were working on on it, then you would be more relaxed and it would be easier to focus on the one task at hand.

Do yoga.
Yoga is great for reducing stress for several reasons. First, there are the physical benefits of becoming stronger and more flexible. This will make you more prepared to fight off and escape from a bear should you ever need to. Second, there is the one-thing-at-a-time mindfulness the comes from concentrating on doing the poses. And third, your brain gets a nice break as it shuts off and does whatever the instructor says for an hour. I’ve never really enjoyed being told what to do but I’m always amazed at how much I enjoy that part of yoga and how relaxing it is to shut my mind off and follow simple directions.

Set a routine.
Super busy people like the President of the United States wear the same thing everyday because it’s one less decision that they have to make. If you set a routine and make some decisions ahead of time, then you don’t have to worry about the stress of making a decision on the fly and things are more predictable. For example, if you leave for work at the same time everyday, then you know what kind of traffic to expect and how long it will take you to get to work. But if you leave for work at a different time everyday, then you will have a harder time figuring out what time you will arrive at work because of the varying traffic patterns and this might be stressful when you are trying to get to work in time for a meeting. A routine also helps you focus. If you have committed the first hour of your day to exercise, then that is just what you do, there’s no question about it. There’s no chance to think maybe you should be doing something else. You can of course set aside time to reevaluate your routine if your values start to change, but once your routine reflects your values, following your routine will feel as relaxing as sitting on a train compared to driving a car yourself. Making decisions is stressful, so try to limit the number of decisions that you have to make.

Think positive thoughts.
I was in the ocean spearfishing once and I started thinking about sharks and getting stressed. What would I do if I saw a shark? I started looking for sharks. I didn’t see any. Then I got back to hunting and I realized that you can only ever be either the hunter or the hunted. You can’t be both at the same time. When I was looking for fish, I was in hunter mode. It was impossible to be worried about sharks. Impossible. So I kept looking for fish. I would have had to see a shark in order to think about a shark. Which is kind of how it should be.

Make it easy for yourself.
There are easy ways to do things and hard ways to do things. You should learn to swim by starting in the shallow end of the pool not the deep end. You should learn to juggle with handkerchiefs not chainsaws. If something is stressing you out, then see if there’s a way that you can dial it down a bit and make it less stressful for yourself.

Take a break.
Stress is go, go, go. To shut down the stress, pause. Stop. Spin. Go backwards instead of forwards. Take a time out. Do a cartwheel. Regroup. Then start again. If you want to.

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5 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Stressing Yourself Out

Does anyone ever tell you that you think too much? That you’re making a big deal out of nothing? Are you having trouble making a decision because you keep changing your mind before it’s made up? If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious about something, you might be overthinking. Here are some tips to help you chill:

Understand the root cause
More than likely, if you’re overthinking something, it’s because you are afraid of making the wrong decision. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as fearlessness. If you are thinking about doing something that is outside of your comfort zone, it’s NATURAL to feel afraid. You are entering unfamiliar territory. Once you realize that fear is normal you allow yourself to stop worrying about making a mistake.

What’s this really about?
Do you have a big decision to make and you keep going back and forth? A pro-con list can help you see what benefit you can gain from each option. Do you know what your endgoal is, but you can’t figure out exactly how to get there? Write down everything that needs to be done to get you where you want to be, and make a plan. Once you put everything that’s in your head on paper, you can sort through the chaos that your mind has created and start to make some sense of it.

Don’t sweat the small stuff
Now that you’ve written down all of your thoughts, take a step back and look at the big picture. Are you hung up on one minor detail and losing sight of what’s important? Remember what your mission is. You’ll never get there if you don’t STOP thinking and START DOING.

Exercise
As Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy…” No matter what you’re down about, a good run or an hour of yoga will make a world of difference. Physical activity will give you a chance to step away from the problem for a while, put you in a better mood, and, in the long run, improve your health.

Listen to your head or your heart?
For people who think too much, it’s almost impossible for us to listen to our hearts. Sometimes, however, our heart can tell us much more than our heads. Did you make that pro-con list? Did you feel a pang of disappointment when you saw that it made more sense to go with option 1? Go with your gut.

Tags: overthinking, stress

7 Ways You Stress Yourself Out

Robin Hilmantel, Life by Daily Burn

I used to wake up each morning and, before I’d even brushed my teeth, I would check my email. This often meant that the first thing I saw every day was a frantic message from my boss. Eventually, I realized I had to set a rule: I wouldn’t check my email until after I finished my morning workout. This small change made a huge difference in my stress levels. Even if I still had to deal with anxiety-provoking e-mails a little later in the day, at least I had a solid hour or more in the morning where I was blissfully — and willfully — ignorant.

“ take these more stressful environments and put them into our homes and our bedrooms,” says John Torous, MD, co-director of the digital psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School. “I think being cognizant of the stressors tied to your phone and how you’re letting them into your life is very important.”

Turns out, checking your phone first thing in the morning isn’t the only habit that could be doing a number on your psyche. We spoke with a few experts, who gave us insight into other seemingly harmless practices that could be disrupting your peace of mind.

7 Sneaky Things Making You Stressed Out

1. Grabbing a donut on the way to work in the morning. Most people don’t give much thought about what to eat for breakfast, says Shanna Levine, MD, instructor of internal medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. But you should. “If your main fuels are simple carbohydrates…that’s not an efficient energy source,” she says. “You’ll find that you become hungry very quickly and feel tired much more quickly. If you don’t have enough energy to get through the day, it makes it difficult to keep a healthy mindset.” On the other hand, if you eat a nutritious breakfast, you’ll avoid the physical and mental crash that can come with a greasy sandwich or sugary waffle.

The fix: Choose something high in protein and healthy fats, recommends Levine. A smoothie with fruits, veggies and nut butter or an egg sandwich with avocado will do the trick. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water.

Related: 6 Scenarios That Stress You Out But Shouldn’t

2. Keeping your to-do list in your head.

Trying to remember everything you have to do for the day can leave you stressed out, whether you realize it or not. “That’s certainly taking up brain space, which takes up more energy,” says Torous. “You can really offload it onto paper and it can be a kind of extension of your brain.” Writing things down seems to give most people temporary relief.

The fix: If you don’t want to buy yourself a notebook that serves as your to-do list (which definitely works), an app like Evernote can give you an electronic place to keep track of all your tasks.

3. Snapchatting and texting 24/7.

Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook make it seem easier to keep in touch with friends. But a phone or computer is no substitute for human interaction. “You can feel very engaged in online or computer-based social networks, but having real human contact with people is even more important,” says Torous. “Sometimes you’ll get tricked into thinking, ‘I have this network of Facebook friends and Twitter friends,’ but it’s crucial to cultivate relationshipsoffline, as well.”

The fix: Schedule a few phone-free activities you can look forward to each week. That way, you’ll have regular opportunities to disconnect and engage with friends or family. Even better, the incentives will help break up the tedium that can often come with the workweek, says Levine.

Related: Single-Tasking: The Secret to Less Stress, More Productivity

4. Going straight from your car to the couch.

There’s a reason that people talk about a “runner’s high.” Exercise releases endorphins that can energize you and improve your mood, says Levine. “Evidence shows that exercise can be one of the most effective treatments for anything in healthcare, be it mental or physical,” adds Torous. (A 2016 study suggests it could help treat depression, specifically.)

The fix: You shouldn’t jump right into an intense exercise routine if you’re in firm couch potato mode right now. Levine recommends starting with a goal of 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity about five times per week. The key, says Torous, is to find an exercise schedule and form of physical activity that feels sustainable to you. “If it fits in your lifestyle, that’s better than saying you must go for 20 minutes a day at an intense heart rate,” he says.

5. Going to bed at a different time each night.

An irregular sleep schedule goes beyond depleted energy levels and the inability to concentrate. It also increases your production of cortisol, which is tied to stress. What’s more, Torous points out that many mental illnesses are associated with unhealthy sleep patterns. (Conversely, treating sleep issues can sometimes alleviate symptoms of the mental illnesses.) “Sleep is really when the brain is growing,” he says. “It’s also when you consolidate memories and the brain reviews or plans for the next day. It’s also in part when the brain is relaxing.”

The fix: “I recommend getting at least eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep,” says Levine. “That means avoiding stimuli at night — whether that’s from phones or the TV — within an hour of intended bedtime. Avoiding caffeine and not exercising too late are also helpful.” Just make sure you have time to wind down before bed.

6. Ignoring what’s stressing you out.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: being so busy that you never take a moment to meditate on any anxious or negative feelings you might have. “I think we all have a difficult time with the act of mindfulness,” says Levine. “We all have things in our life we can’t control that make us tense. But taking a few minutes every day to reflect on what’s bothering us, calmly acknowledging it and letting it go — a sort of a mini-meditation — makes the day feel and seem a lot less stressful.”

The fix: When you’re feeling stressed out, take a few moments to acknowledge and accept those feelings rather than just continuing along, business as usual. Just pushing negativity aside can lead to even more stress.

7. Quitting habits that got you to a good place.

“A lot of times, when people are feeling well and good, they stop doing the things that keep them both physically and mentally healthy,” says Torous. “They’re so happy that they kind of forget those little things they did over time. That’s one of the main reasons for relapse.”

The fix: If a certain medication, morning ritual or exercise routine helped you feel your best, then it’s important not to neglect that habit, says Torous. Even if you think you don’t “need” it anymore, don’t ditch a habit that makes you feel happier and healthier.

Related: This Is Your Body on Sleep Deprivation

Is stress affecting your body? The answer to this question is a big “YES! The number-one complaint that I am hearing these days is: “I am under so much stress and it is causing me to overeat. I am storing fat around my midsection; what can I do to de-stress myself so that my body doesn’t suffer?”

First, we all need to get in touch with our bodies so that we can recognize what it feels like to be relaxed and how it feels when we are stressed.

The first thing I like to ask a person is are your shoulders (trapezoids) up by your ears? When we are stressed, our shoulders rise up to ear level; it causes your shoulders to slump over, and allows gravity to take over and continue to pull our bodies toward the ground. This ages our bodies more than you can imagine. Bad posture makes us look much older than we really are, and it can cause headaches among other things.

If we can all learn to relax, we will solve our eating/stress problems at the core level where they need to be addressed. If work or life is making you so stressed that you can’t seem to relax, there are solutions out there for you that can help you feel better right away so that you can navigate your way through what needs to be done.

4 Ways to Stop Stress Fast

Stress check. Not sure how stressed you are? Perform a posture check to see if your shoulders are visiting your ears or if your breathing has become shallow and quick. Try taking a deep breath and tell your shoulders to “wilt” or “relax”. They will relax just by the power of suggestion and your breathing should slow down. If you are very tense, this may take multiple breathes. If you are super tense, this may take time, so be patient and don’t give up. It is well worth the trouble, and you will not only feel better, you will look fitter too.

Just breathe. Find a quiet place and take a 5-minute de-stress break to practice your breathing. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth slowly, as if there were a feather right in front of you and you don’t want it to move. Take five seconds to fully exhale. This is one of the simplest yet most effective things we can do to de-stress our bodies and stop the stress hormones from escalating, causing fat to be stored around your midsection.

Exercise! The right kind of exercise will help burn off some of that anxiety and will help you sleep better. If you workout too intensely, guess what? You actually cause your stress hormones to rise – not fall – and that makes our bodies store fat instead of releasing it! Exercise at a moderate intensity daily – not too hard or too easy, but middle to moderate is what works. If you can’t sing while you’re exercising, you’re working too hard! Slow down!

Use the right supplements. Drop any supplements that has energizers in them and keep your caffeine intake low. Taking oxytocin will help ease anxiety instantly without making you drowsy. Be sure to buy this from a reputable source and follow the directions on the label. Taking more is not better. Oxytocin is a great way to balance your energy levels; you will feel better all day long by minimizing the highs and lows that go along with stress.

Everybody feels stress and knows it intimately, but very few of us think about what stress actually is.

Stress is a thought. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us.

The dictionary definition of stress is, “bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” It is your thoughts out of balance.

The medical definition of stress is, “the perception of a real or imagined threat to your body or your ego.” It could be a tiger chasing you or your belief that your spouse is mad at you (even if he or she is not). Whether it is real or imagined, when you perceive something as stressful, it creates the same response in the body.

A cascade of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones floods your system, raising your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, making your blood more likely to clot, damaging your brain’s memory center, increasing belly fat storage, and generally wreaking havoc on your body.

The operative word here about stress is that it is a perception, also known as a thought or point of view. There are objective stressors, to be sure—war, death of loved ones, financial troubles, starvation, dental work. But how these affect us determines our body’s stress response. Imagine Woody Allen and James Bond, each with a gun pointed at his head—same external stressor but entirely different responses.

When I was very sick with chronic fatigue, barely able to work, a single father with two kids, thinking I had to go on disability, I worried constantly. I couldn’t sleep and everything seemed stressful. Then, a wise man told me I had to stop worrying. I argued with him strenuously, providing a comprehensive list of all the real external events that were stressful to me. He just kept repeating that worrying was toxic; he said, what really mattered was how I viewed the situation, and he kept telling me I just needed to stop worrying.

And slowly, very slowly, I trained myself to watch my thoughts, my perceptions, and when a stressful thought came into my head, I stopped, took a deep breath, and just let go. It’s like a muscle—it gets stronger the more you use it, but if you let go, it relaxes.

But of course, life takes over and things happen, all the “D’s:” divorce, death, deadlines, demands, dumb thoughts, and dumb schedules. And as anyone does, I get sucked in to negative thinking, which creates stress in my body. My sleep gets interrupted, my muscles get tight, my mood gets cranky, but then I breathe and remember that stress is all in my head. We get so attached to our way of thinking, to our beliefs and attitudes about the way things should be or shouldn’t be, that it makes us sick.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t respond to injustice or experience intense feelings of joy, happiness, sadness, loss, or pain. I do. But I try just to be fully in them when they come, then experience the next moment, then the next and the next, and just show up with my whole self with love and attention. That’s the only thing I can do.

Most people, when they look at my life, think I’m crazy and wonder why I’m not more stressed—running a medical practice; writing books and blogs; teaching all over the world; working on health policy; volunteering in Haiti, churches, and orphanages; being a father, son, brother, partner, friend, boss, and more. But it’s actually quite simple. I don’t worry about things much. I simply wake up and do the next thing as best I can.

And when things get out of control, which they do, I simply make a gentle U-turn. It’s like a GPS for my soul. Your GPS doesn’t yell at you and call you stupid or judge you for taking a wrong turn. In the sweetest voice imaginable, the GPS reminds you to take the next possible U-turn.

Each of us has to find out how to make our own U-turn. There are some wonderful ways I have discovered that work very well for me!

Here’s how I make my U-turns (and I try to pick one or more each day):

  1. Move. The best way to burn off the stress hormones without having to change your thinking is to move and sweat. Run, dance, jump, ride, swim, stretch, or skip—do something vigorous and lively. Yoga is also fabulous, as it combines movement and breathing.
  2. Breathe. Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve and not the Las Vegas nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now, and observe how differently you feel after.
  3. Bathe. For the lazy among us (including me), an UltraBath is a secret weapon against stress. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt (which contains magnesium, the relaxation mineral), a half-cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of lavender oil (which lowers cortisol) to a very hot bath. Then, add one stressed human and soak for 20 minutes. Guaranteed to induce relaxation.
  4. Sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed your sleep. Prioritize sleep.
  5. Think Differently. Practice the art of noticing stress, noticing how your thinking makes you stressed. Practice taking deep breaths and letting go of worry. Try Byron Katie’s four questions to break the cycle of “stinkin’ thinkin’” that keeps you stressed.

You can also try my UltraCalm CD, featuring guided mediations and relaxation techniques.

Also, I highly recommend tapping, a technique that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Pick up a copy of Nick Ortner’s new book The Tapping Solution to learn more. Another great stress-relief technique to try is Holosync, an audio technology designed by the Centerpointe Research Institute, which instantly (and effortlessly) puts you into states of deep meditation—literally, at the push of a button. Visit Centerpointe’s website to find out more. Also, check out meQuilibrium, a digital coaching system created by experts to change the way you respond to stress. It teaches specific skills to help you get a handle on all of the emotional, physical, and lifestyle imbalances that keep you from feeling your best.

Enjoy, and happy U-turns!

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

Key Facts

  • Some stress is okay if it motivates you to get things done.
  • Too much stress can lead to health problems such as depression, and sleep problems.
  • Try stress-lowering activities such as yoga or writing in a journal.

You know when you’re stressed out – your body feels tired and your thoughts are spinning. It can also help to know why your body reacts that way, and what you can do about it. Our bodies are designed to handle calm situations, and also exciting or dangerous ones. When you’re in the middle of something scary or challenging, your body gets into a mode that’s better for handling the situation. This is a state of high energy and sharp senses, such as the way you feel when you’re playing a fun sport or doing really well on a test. However, when the situation turns into more than you can handle, that’s when you start to feel the effects of stress. It’s as if your body is shouting “Do something!”, and your brain is shouting back “I don’t know what to do!”

What is stress?

When you’re stressed, you feel changes in your body and your mind. Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure may go up, and your face may get flushed. Your muscles may tighten up, or you might feel anxious. You may feel rushed and confused, or forget things and you may feel sick to your stomach. You might also be irritable, and get into arguments with your family and friends.

What causes stress in our lives?

We live in an interesting, but also fast-paced world. There are lots of sources of stress, including:

  • Homework and projects at school
  • Family tension as you try to be more independent from your parents
  • Pressure from friends to do risky things
  • Tension with your boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Difficult people in your life
  • Upsetting news about disasters, war, or personal tragedy
  • Media messages that lower your self-esteem
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Chronic illness

What are the effects of stress?

A certain amount of stress is okay if it helps to motivate you to deal with a short term problem. For example; if you’re stressed about writing a paper for school, and your stress causes you to ask your teacher for advice, and you finish the paper, then your stress has done its job.

In the short term, stress can:

  • Help you focus on a situation or solve a problem
  • Tire you out
  • Make you nervous or irritable

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing a lot of stress day after day, your body may start sending you warning signs that something’s really wrong. This kind of chronic stress can take a physical and mental toll on your body and mind.

Long term stress can put you at risk for health problems such as:

  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Self-Injury
  • Obesity and other eating problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Lower immunity to colds and other illnesses

These chronic problems are really your body’s way of telling you “Hey! I’m under way too much stress – something’s got to change!”

If you notice that you feel stressed just about every day, you should take some steps to (1) lessen the number of stressors in your life, and (2) try some techniques that will help you de-stress.

How can I lower my stress level?

Here are some ideas for different activities you can do to lower your stress. Pick a couple that look interesting to you, and try them out. If these ideas help you de-stress, you can include them in your daily or weekly routine. If not, you can try others on the list, or come up with a list of your own. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult about how they de-stress. They might have some good ideas you can try out.

Helpful Hint: Make a list of your favorite stress-reduction activities, and tape it where you’ll see it often, such as on the fridge, in your notebook, or on your computer screen. When you’re over-stressed, stop what you’re doing, pick one thing off the list, and do it!

Stress Reduction Activities

Simplify. You may feel like you’re not in control of everything that’s expected of you. It’s up to you to decide what you can do, and what you can’t. To help simplify your life, sit down and make a list of everything you feel you need to do. Then separate all the items on the list into these three sections:

  • These can wait
  • These should get done soon
  • Do these TODAY

If you see that there’s just too much to do TODAY, you’ll have to cut down on some activities to make your schedule more manageable.

Exercise is a great way to lower your stress. While exercising, you can focus on what you’re doing with your body, which helps free your mind from other worries. Vigorous exercise also triggers the release of chemicals in your body called endorphins, which make you feel happier and more relaxed. You don’t have to be a super-athlete to exercise. Even something as basic as walking for half an hour can help you relax and improve your mood. Or, you can sign up for a class at your local YWCA or YMCA, such as dancing, volleyball, or swimming.

Yoga, Tai Chi, & Qigong. These types of movement use stretches and poses for flexibility, strength, concentration, and relaxation. Yoga emphasizes flexibility and strength, while Tai Chi and Qigong help with concentration, balance, and patience. You can do any of these exercises in a class at your local YWCA, dance center, or at home on a towel or mat. If you’re shy about taking a class, you can borrow a DVD out of the library, or find one on YouTube and try the movements at home.

Take a Break. Sometimes your tired brain is just craving a little time off from your busy day. Stop what you’re doing, and find a quiet spot where you can put your feet up. Drink some tea (without caffeine), or take a bath. Read a book or magazine, or even watch TV. These things sound so basic, you might think, “why bother?”, but when your body is relaxed, your stress level drops.

Meditation and Prayer offer you ways to calm, focus your thoughts, and feel more positive. Meditation involves sitting still in a quiet place, focusing your thoughts on your breath or on a slow chant, and trying to be aware of what is going on in the present moment, instead of stressing about the past or freaking out about the future. With prayer you focus on feeling connected to a higher spiritual power, and on wishes and hopes you may have for yourself or people you care about. You might like to contact your local church, temple, yoga center, or Buddhist center about a prayer or meditation group. If you’re shy about attending a group, you can borrow DVDs from the library or find instructions on YouTube about different meditation and prayer techniques.

Massage can work wonders on a stressed-out body. A gentle massage can untie knotted muscles, and make you feel relaxed all over. A professional massage can be expensive, but even a simple foot-rub or shoulder-rub from a good friend can take the edge off your stress – you can check out local massage schools to see if they offer discounted services.

Journaling. If you enjoy writing, this can be a good way to de-stress. Write down what’s been happening with you on a daily basis and how you feel. By writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper, you’ll likely feel less stressed.

Have a good cry. You may know that little kids get upset easily, cry and make a fuss, and then get over it quickly. This approach can work for you too. At the end of a stressful day, if you find yourself crying to a supportive friend, family member, or to your pillow, this can help you de-stress. In our culture we often try to convince people not to cry, as if it were a sign of weakness, but that’s really not true. If crying helps you communicate your frustration, vent your stress, and get some support, then there’s nothing wrong with a good cry every now and then.

Sleep. Teens in our culture are often sleep-deprived on a daily basis, and even just a few nights in a row of not-enough-sleep can make you feel irritable and nervous. You actually need more sleep at this time in your life (about 9 hours per night) than you will as an adult. Although your school schedule and social life make it difficult, try to put sleep at the top of your priority list, right up there with eating healthy foods.

Special note: Drugs, alcohol, or binge eating are extremely harmful ways to try to de-stress. These activities may seem to make you feel better in the very short term by numbing your senses, or making you feel silly or forgetful. However, they have destructive effects on your life and your health and are not worth the temporary quick fix they might seem to provide. If you find yourself turning repeatedly to these harmful activities, it’s time to seek counseling to help you deal more positively with your stress.

What should I do if I’m dealing with extreme stress?

Sometimes the stressors in your life are very serious. Some examples of extremely stressful situations are: being in a serious accident; being the victim of a crime or sexual abuse, or experiencing violence in your family life, including daily fighting, yelling, and hitting. These serious stressors can have lasting effects on the way your body and mind handle stress, and this can set you up for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here are some resources for coping with extreme stress:

  • Parents or other trusted adults.If you feel that your stress is more than you can manage on your own, you should definitely seek help. Have an honest talk with a parent(s), guardian, or another trusted adult in your life. Be has truthful about the stress you’re dealing with and the effect it’s having on you. Opening up to a caring adult can help you feel less alone, and that person can help you find ways to manage your stress.
  • Counseling and medication.In addition to help from family members, counseling can be a great resource. It involves meeting with a professionally-trained person; a therapist, social worker, health care provider, or religious leader. This person can help you figure out the cause of your stress, how to minimize it, and how to learn techniques for handling stress in the future. Sometimes your health care provider will prescribe medicine to help you manage the symptoms of your stress, as they work with you on ways you can make your life less stressful.

Throughout your life it’s important to be aware of the signals coming from your body and your mind. If you realize that you’re getting stressed out, remember that you can do something about it now and in the future. However, if you feel that you just can’t manage your stress or that you’re having a hard time coping with something (and it lasts for up to two weeks or more) it’s important to talk with your health care provider.

How to Get Stressed

Techniques > Managing Stress > How to Get Stressed

Self-focus | Distrust | Fear rejection | Conflict Overload | Deception | And… | See also

How do people get stressed? Here’s just some of the ways. Of course if you avoid or handle these then you can be less stressed. It’s up to you.

Self-focus

Description

Think first and last about yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and goals above all other things. Use others for your own ends and with little consideration for their happiness.

Discussion

We all have a healthy interest in ourselves and maintenance of our sense of identity. Yet those who put themselves above all others pay the ultimate price of loneliness and become anxious about not getting everything or others turning against them.

Paradoxically, there is much happiness to be had through devoted service to others.

Distrust

Beware of other people. They are probably all out to get you, or at least are so selfish that they care nothing about you. When one person is not wholly trustworthy, generalize this to assume nobody can be trusted. See danger and malice in every face.

We lose the ability to trust when we have bad experiences with others and are unable to predict whether others will be trustworthy. This means we must constantly be on the alert for betrayal and attack. Selfishness can also lead to distrust, where we believe others are as selfish as we are.

Fear of rejection

Think a lot about what other may be thinking about you. Assume they are critical and that no matter how hard you try to please them, you will still always be close to being rejected and ostracized.

Belonging and esteem are deep needs and those who lack self-esteem fear loss of identity through losing the attention and esteem of others. This is no small thing (solitary isolation in prison is a much-feared punishment).

Conflict

Argue with other people. Try to get them to do things they do not want to do by being authoritarian and commanding. Refuse to do things they ask you to do, getting angry about this.

Also fret about it all later. Worry about rejection. Replay what happened and wish you had said something else. Think about what may happen next.

Many of the problems we have are around other people, where we are easily provoked into the fight-or-flight reaction or post-conflict anxiety.

Overload

Take on too much work. Always say yes. Regularly work late to get everything done on time. Believe that if you are not busy you are not worthy.

Gather as much responsibility as you can. Take on challenging new work, trying to learn as you go. Get promoted to your level of incompetence. Muddle through whilst hoping nobody notices the mistakes.

Take on the anxieties of others. Empathize. Feel their stress. Worry about not being able to help them enough.

Taking on too much can also be based on fear of rejection. In order to get the approval of others we take on more and more work. A common reason for this is when seeking promotion, where approval is needed, as well as simple human need for acceptance.

Deception

Get what you want through deception. Tell lies, cheat, steal. Then wonder if you will be caught. Worry about whether this makes you a bad person.

This seems like something that few would actually do, yet many of us deceive others in all kinds of ways. And because we are basically good people, we then worry about it. It is only the bad people who are not stressed when they misbehave.

And…

Other ways to get stressed include:

  • Taking mind-altering drugs and other self-harm.
  • Too much of everyday stimulants, such as alcohol, coffee, etc.
  • Not exercising, with too much sitting.
  • Over-eating, especially of the wrong foods
  • Eating irregularly, snacking and grabbing a bite between work.
  • Irregular sleeping habits, including going to bed at various times or waking up at odd hours.
  • Pretending you are not stressed or otherwise coping and covering up internal issues.

See also

Trust, Causes of stress

7 ways to help someone who is stressed

  • Health and carer support
  • Financial assistance
  • Find out how we can help

    6. Help them relax

    Relaxation techniques such as meditation or mindful breathing exercises can help us stay calm. When practised regularly they improve and strengthen our response to pressure. And regular practice is easier to stick to when you’ve got someone to practice with. Help your friend take back control by encouraging them to take mindful pauses whenever they start to feel overwhelmed. This 10-minute body scan is a good place to start.

    7. Support them to seek professional help

    Unfortunately, there is a still a sense of stigma around mental wellbeing and mental health that prevents many people from seeking professional support when they need it. Talking to your friend about discussing things with their GP, or going with them to an appointment could be the push they need to reach out.

    If you know someone who is struggling with stress, let them know about CABA. We offer free, professional counselling to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, their husbands, wives, life partners and dependent children up to the age of 25. Wherever they are in the world. All of our services are free and strictly confidential.

    Ask us about counselling

    How To Deal With People That Stress You Out

    Every day you deal with people that stress you out. It can be a friend, a family member or colleague. Toxic people lurk in all parts of our lives. If you find yourself completely stressed when dealing with certain people, you need to find ways to cope and make the best of the situation. Here are some tips to help you stay cool, and deal with people that stress you out. And if you’d like some IRL inspiration, reserve your seat for The Board – this event is the perfect way for you to meet inspiring women, share your challenges, and learn from others doing amazing things.

    How to deal with people that stress you out

    Toxic people love to be negative. Nothing gets them more animated than moaning about all the ways life has let them down. They love to place blame on everyone else – their family, society, government – it doesn’t matter. They rarely take ownership on improving their own situation, instead, wallow in their negativity. Misery loves company. So if you have been indulging them in the past and letting them be negative, you need to realise that you are just enabling their behaviour and that they will never change.

    Next time they are about to go on a negative tirade that’s going to stress you out, you need to step in and question them about ways that they are improving their situation. If they continually just give excuse after excuse and over time never actively try and change their problem, it may be time to phase out the relationship.

    Know your triggers

    By being able to identify what it is exactly that this person does that causes you such stress, you should be in a better position to deal with it. There are two types of triggers you should become familiar with.

    One is emotional triggers. These occur when the toxic person you are dealing with says something that presses your buttons. Why do the things they say hurt you? Are they highlighting your personal insecurities? Can you reframe these insecurities within your own mind, so they no longer hold such a power over you?

    Second are physical triggers. Get to know what your body does when you are stressed. Does your face go red? Does your heart begin to beat wildly? Do you find it hard to even speak? By knowing your physical triggers you can begin to identify them earlier during a conflict so you can remove yourself from the situation sooner.

    Be aware of manipulation

    Stressful people can be very manipulative. They can find ways to make you feel worthless and inferior. If you allow them to treat you like that, that’s what they will continue to do. If the person is someone that you can’t phase out of your life, like a boss or family member you need to figure out exactly how they are manipulating your emotions. For example, If a boss or coworker are saying that you are lazy, keep detailed notes on the work you are doing and go through the correct channels within your organisation to resolve the situation.

    If it’s a family member, limit your interaction with them to occasions where attendance is mandatory and beforehand identify the triggers that cause you to become upset in their presence. This will help you prepare responses for when the toxic family member tries to hurt you and cause you stress.

    Take a stand and set boundaries

    This can be very difficult to do, especially if you feel intimidated by the person who is causing you stress. The person may be completely oblivious to the fact that they are being difficult to deal with. By vocalising the issues you are having with them, it gives them a chance to change their ways. If they continue with the behaviour, you will need to set boundaries. This might mean only dealing with them at certain times and not responding to every message that they send you. This can be difficult in a work environment, so you may need to start looking for other employment opportunities. Having a constant stress at work will impact negatively on your mental health, so you must figure this into your career choices.

    Have something to look forward to

    If you must deal with this stressful person, try and have something to look forward to afterwards. Family gatherings can be stressful, so plan to go for a facial or back massage a day or two after the event to unwind. If it’s a stressful client in work, treat yourself to an indulgent lunch or dinner afterwards. Spending the entire lead up thinking about the toxic person, you are making the situation worse by adding to your anxiousness. Instead, having something to look forward to after dealing with the difficult person can help salvage a little bit of positive mindset.

    What are your coping mechanisms for dealing with people that stress you out? How do you react when faced with a stressful situation? Let us know on the GirlCrew app or in the comments below.

    5 Ways You Unintentionally Stress Yourself Out

    Every time you experience stress, pressure is put on the adrenal glands, which then pump adrenaline into your bloodstream. The thing is, constant stress can lead to problems like chronic fatigue, weight gain, weakened immunity, and a shorter lifespan. The good thing is that the majority of life’s daily stresses can be reduced with proper awareness, practice, and discipline. See what little things you are doing every day that unintentionally stress your body out, and find out how you can relax in these moments.

    1. Running late to work: If you hit the snooze button every day, chances are you are scrambling to make up lost time. Hurrying through breakfast or skipping out on it altogether wreaks havoc on your digestive system and blood sugar levels. Rushing to get out the door can leave you frazzled, messy, and forgetful, especially when it comes to the important things like keys, your wallet, or umbrella.
      How to relax: The night before, put out everything you need for the following day; keep the most important items near the front door. If you are consistently 15 minutes late every morning, set your alarm back the same amount of time. Make sure to sit down for breakfast, allowing yourself 30 minutes to eat. Try these recipes for make-ahead breakfasts.
    2. Stressful thinking: Sometimes our thoughts make the world a more stressful place than it is. What is actually a manageable list of tasks can seem unconquerable to the mind. When the noggin starts churning, it’s hard to step back and look at the full picture.
      How to relax: If you find yourself caught in a stressful thought, pay attention to your facial expressions and breathing. Relax your face, close your eyes, and take a long full inhale. Bring yourself back to reality and the present moment and create a plan, mapping out your steps and timeline for completion.
    3. A cluttered, messy house: Entering or waking up to a messy house can be exhausting because your mind is subconsciously stressed by the thought of cleaning and organizing it (hence, why we always procrastinate).
      How to relax: Tidying will help calm you down because once your house is clean, you won’t be tied to the mess or feel anxious about it. Rather than putting off your cleaning for weeks (maybe months), tackle it immediately. This will free you to exert energy on other tasks.
    4. Avoiding a workout: Sometimes work and other obligations make you pressed for time. The first thing that usually goes is your workout routine. Even a few days of avoiding the gym can make you feel guilty and stressed about not taking care of your body, and can lead to illness. When you are sick, your body shuts down to force you to pay attention to it.
      How to relax: Find a time during your day that you can commit to 90 percent of the time ‹ even if that means squeezing a 20-minute workout session during your lunch break. People who exercise five times a week or more are 40 percent less likely to catch a cold.
    5. No bedtime regime: Often times, frazzled, stressed people try to decompress by drinking wine and sitting in front of the TV all night. Alcohol and technology actually interfere with your body’s ability to rest and sleep soundly. You might also toss and turn for a few hours continuing to play over stresses you are currently facing.
      How to relax: Get offline, turn off the TV, and take the time to decompress organically. Whether your routine includes a warm bath, an hour of reading, or journaling your feelings, spend at least 30 minutes actively prepping your body for sleep.

    Read More From FitSugar:

    To Boost Immunity When Stress Is High, Follow These Tips

    Simple Tips to Reduce Workday Stress

    5 Ways to Be Healthy During Your Commute

    • By FitSugar

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