2020 will be remembered as a year of uncertainty.
Uncertainty creates a sense of a lack of control.
How in control we feel of our lives is hugely important to our wellbeing. In fact, it’s one of the most important things because when we perceive things are starting to spiral out of our control our stress and anxiety level soars.
Anxiety is a feeling generated by our body that warns us that there is potential danger ahead. It’s the product of our inbuilt, innate risk management system.
Our risk management system is always on 24/7, 365 days a year. Anxiety is therefore normal.
Physically, anxiety feels the same as stress
Physically, anxiety feels the same as stress because both are feelings experienced in response to the activation of our stress response (often referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response).
A REAL and PRESENT danger = STRESS
We feel stress in response to a REAL and PRESENT danger. There is something happening right now that we perceive as a danger to our physical and/or emotional wellbeing. That danger may last for seconds (a near miss whilst driving) or may persist for months (like COVID19) or for years (an abusive relationship).
An IMAGINED FUTURE danger = ANXIETY
We feel anxiety in response to an IMAGINED FUTURE threat to our physical and/or emotional wellbeing. We imagine a future where things go badly for us and/or everyone we care about, and we feel suitably scared each time we do. For example, we imagine having a near miss whilst driving, we imagine catching the COVID19 virus, we imagine that we will end up in an abusive relationship.
Real or imagined events, people, things that we interpret as a danger or threat/risk to our wellbeing are called ‘stressors.’
Stress and anxiety are unavoidable
At any point in time most people are going to be experiencing some level of stress and/or some anxiety. The intensity of those combined feelings is our ‘stress level’.
Over time an elevated stress level (known as ‘chronic stress’) can have a harmful impact on our immune system, our body, and our mind. So, it’s in our best interests to understand how we create stress and anxiety and to use that understanding to take action to keep our stress level as low as possible.
We create stress and anxiety
You may have spotted that I wrote ‘understand how we create stress and anxiety.’ The fact is that we only experience stress and anxiety when our mind interprets a real or imagined person(s), situation, thing as a threat to our wellbeing.
This is not a new discovery. It has been known for thousands of years. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus (50AD – 135AD) said “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.”
What this means, for example, is that COVID19 is not causing you to feel anxious. It’s your mind’s interpretation of COVID19 as a threat to your and your family’s safety that is activating your body’s stress response causing you to feel stressed and anxious.
How can you reduce the stress and anxiety you are experiencing?
When it comes to reducing the stress, we experience we can:
- Remove stressors from our lives.
- Change the stressors in our lives so they are no longer stressors.
- Learn techniques to reduce the level of stress we experience. You’ll find plenty of techniques amongst my blog posts. Just search for ‘stress.’
When it comes to reducing the anxiety, we experience we can:
- Learn how to control our imagination so we reduce or stop imagining unlikely future threats.
- Learn to spot our unhelpful thinking habits and replace those habits with helpful ones.
- Learn to spot unhelpful thinking patterns and challenge them.
- Learn how to reset our risk management system if it has become over sensitive (i.e. it’s behaving like a faulty car alarm that goes off just because someone walks by).
- Learn techniques to reduce the level of anxiety we experience. You’ll find plenty of techniques amongst my blog posts. Just search for ‘anxiety.’
You can reduce your stress and anxiety level
The good news is that because we create our stress and anxiety we can, with the right knowledge and skills, stop creating them. In fact, you can start reducing your stress and anxiety today. The internet is home to thousands of websites (including my own – www.tycoaching.nz) dedicated to helping people become experts at reduce their stress and anxiety. These sites provide lots of effective techniques you can start practicing today. There are also thousands of books on how to manage stress and anxiety (including my own – 7 Ways to reduce Anxiety in 7 Minutes or Less).
You may need some expert help and support
If you’re stress and anxiety is having an adverse impact on your day-to-day life, then it’s time you sought help and support from a stress or anxiety specialist who can help you reset your innate risk management system and lower your stress level. Therapists, counsellors, and Anxiety Solutions Coaches (like me) can all offer solutions and support.
Schedule a free, no obligation Discovery Consultation
If you want some help reducing your anxiety or stress level simply schedule a free, no obligation Discovery Consultation by clicking HERE. Alternatively, you can call/text me on 021 056 8389.
Stay safe and stay well.
I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible enjoy lives free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you’d like my help, or you know someone who would benefit, call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email email@example.com