Instead of generalizing about your stress level and the people and events “causing it,” take the time to figure out what’s really going on…what ARE the things that put you “over the top?” When you truly understand the triggers, as well as your responses, you are on your way to doing things that work — that reduce your negative reactions and feelings.
One clarification. We all feel stress. You can’t eliminate your body’s natural stress response…the only time you are totally free of stress is when you are dead — and that is definitely not the goal! DIS-stress is what needs examining and managing by each and every one of us. That means that normal signs of stress escalate to high levels of emotional, physical, behavioral, and spiritual distress — you clearly see and feel that you are not coping well — concentration is off, decisions are not positive/healthy, physical symptoms intensify, and the feelings of disconnection, lack of meaning in life escalate.
Analyze what’s going on. Get a notebook and pen. Writing with a pen actually helps! Truly. Ask and answer these basic questions…
-What are your specific stress symptoms? List everything you are aware of you know is a negative reaction to stress — i.e., too many headaches or other physical symptoms; crying or getting angry easily; bad decisions; poor concentration or focus; mistakes you know you would not ordinarily make.
-Where are you when you are feeling the most stress? Work? Home? Commuting? Social situations? Other?
– Who are you WITH when feeling the most stress? Identify all individuals…
-What are you currently doing to manage stress that you realize is not genuinely helping? Drinking? Over eating? Staying in bed? Avoiding challenging situations and people?
-How long have your stress symptoms been difficult to manage?
These basic questions can get you started with a good first level of self analysis. Giving yourself permission to pay attention, name what’s going on, and see that it’s necessary to take action to feel better is critical. Then you can begin to focus on what you actually need to do to improve your self care. Sometimes you are able to change the actual situations/circumstances you find stressful; however, most successful self care means changing how you manage, cope, and make changes that help you face the challenges. Meditation and exercise give the most immediate relief, and you’ll find many details/suggestions if you search my list of blogs.
More detailed questions for self analysis and then for “what to do” are also in previous blogs. You can always contact me if you don’t find what you need. You might also find my book, YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS, helpful …. and much of the content of the book is also on previous blogs. The important thing is to get the help you need to feel better, and talking to someone almost always helps. Just be sure to write things down. Then you’ll have the information you need to get started. Remember you do deserve to feel better.