Stress and Anxiety isn’t something that needs to be fixed. It’s an unneeded process of handling fear (often unconscious fear). The hitch is… the process has become so automatic that we’re not even aware of it… or the fear.
Causes of Stress and Anxiety
There are many behaviours that people have learned to avoid fear which lead to stress and anxiety. See if you can recognize a behaviour that’s familiar to you.
Behaviours that cause Stress and Anxiety:
- Not thinking about the problem, burying it
- Distracting yourself with work or escape activities
- Controlling the situation or people around you
- Creating other problems or drama to distract
- Forcing yourself to repeat and believe affirmations or a hopeful outcome
Why am I stressed and anxious?
When we’re stressed we’re in the FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE mode of our primal protection process. But most often it’s a perceived threat instead of an actual threat which means it’s an idea about being threatened instead of actually being under threat. That’s great news though because we can control and change our ideas.
What do I do?
Calming stress means becoming present to the ideas or ‘perceived’ threat (naming the fear, feelings and emotions) and releasing the body’s response to the ‘attack’.
Behaviours that calm Stress and Anxiety:
- Deep and conscious Breathing
- Grounding yourself into the present moment by the 5 senses “what I see, feel, hear, smell and taste”
- Using a walk or exercise to calm yourself
- Naming and allowing the feelings to be as they are (without using any of the causative behaviours listed above) Use a Feelings list for this one.
- Reaching out to a trusted friend or family member
Only from a calm place do we have access to all our skills, knowledge and capabilities to handle what’s actually in front of us.
I came across this simple 3 step worksheet that can help you anytime to self-regulate and become conscious of the fear under your stress and anxiety.
Give yourself a chance to feel the calm confidence that letting go of stress and anxiety will give you. Give it a try.
Liz Coleman, RTC, is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor based in Surrey, BC. She specializes in anxiety, anger, insecurity, and relationship problems. If you have any questions about this article or would like to schedule an appointment, please call Ms. Coleman at (604) 809-8947 or use the convenient form on her Contact page.