Are you STRESSED, or are you ANXIOUS? Taking the ANGST out of anxiety!
What if I told you that you do not have stress… you have anxiety? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Let’s think about it. Stress is really the physiological outcome of an experience that is causing you anxiety. Anxiety is caused by “feeling out of control in a situation”. Examples! I am running late! You are experiencing anxiety brought on by having lost control of your time and you now your body FEELS stressed. There is traffic! You are anxious because you cannot control the traffic so now your body FEELS stressed. I am stressed about money! You feel anxious because you feel a lack in control of your finances and it is making your body FEEL stressed. Get it? Stress is the physiological outcome of anxiety, and anxiety represents a situation that you feel you cannot control.
So the first step in relieving stress is to identify what is making you feel anxious and out of control. The next step is to understand what you can control and what you cannot control. If it is something you can control, then you attempt to solve the problem, relieve the anxiety and bring down your physical stress. If it is something you cannot control, then you need to change your perception, sit back, and relax until you can fix the situation or it goes away. What do I mean by change your perception? What I mean is that you need to decide to stop ruminating over what cannot change and stop thinking that by stressing over it that it will magically change. It boils down to this… you usually have an option to fix something, or you have an option to let go of the anxiety by realizing you CANNOT fix it. Now understand that I am not talking about going into denial that there is an issue to be faced or fixed. What I am offering you is the opportunity to release the anxiety that you have assigned to it, as it will do you absolutely no good. Having anxiety over a situation, causing your body to stay in stress mode over it does absolutely nothing to fix the problem.
Example of a CHANGE IN PERCEPTION…. You are stuck in traffic. You are going to be late for work. There is nothing you can do to change the traffic. You cannot do anything about being late. But you can first look at what you can do to bring down the anxiety. Can you call the office to say you will be late? Can you change an appointment for later to take away the stress and anxiety? If you can take an action to relieve it then take it. If not then you need a change in perception. “I cannot make this traffic go away therefore I choose not to go into stress about it. I will listen to the radio! I will find some great music that makes me happy. I will look at the people going by and the cars they drive. I will enjoy the scenery that I never see because I am zipping by.” You are in traffic with a change in perception. You have denounced the anxiety and brought your body out of stress mode. And you have probably learned a valuable lesson about time management and traffic that will keep you from going though this all again on another day. Leave early.
So did I ever come back to answering the chicken and egg question when it comes to anxiety and stress? Ahhh…check back in the next newsletter when I discuss how you can put yourself into anxiety by putting your body in stress mode… physical stress causing emotional anxiety. Take a deep breath and I will see you in a few weeks!