When you’re always going, going, going and struggling to balance your work and home lives, it may be hard to tell whether you’re stressed or just worrying too much.
You’re not alone in this question!
Stress and worry are relative terms, so they do not have a true definition— and they’re one in the same. Stress, worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, panic and embarrassment release the same hormones in the brain: adrenaline and norepinephrine.
Have compassion for yourself that stress and worry are an appropriate human response to those things.
However, if it is negatively effecting your life, causing headaches, affecting your relationships, sleep, mood, or eating, or if it’s making your mind race, it is worth doing something to get rid of it.
Try these methods:
1. Give yourself some compassion
Whatever you are feeling, say to yourself, “I get it. That makes sense.” This is important because most people feel something and immediately berate themselves: “Why am I overreacting?” “Why am I so sensitive?” “Why do I worry too much?” “Why do I let this affect me so much?”
This negative judgement is even more stressful and increases the anxious hormones. Your mind keeps questioning trying to figure out your feelings and the chaos continues.
Instead, saying, “I get why I feel stressed,” allows you to acknowledge yourself. The situation is defined, and you are validated. With this, your mind no longer has to be attached to the feeling and it will go away much sooner.
2. Take a step back
Look at yourself and all of the players in the situation as if you are looking at them from up on a mountain. Stress needs you be close to the chaos. Instead, from this mountaintop position, you’ll feel calmer and you can look at the situation objectively. You can understand why everyone has acted the way that they do.
For example, if someone is mean, you can see that it comes out of her own fear and worry. You can also see your reaction and why it hurt or affected you so much. You can have more compassion for everyone up here.
3. Take action
Now you can decide what to do next. Do you distance yourself from the stressor? Do you think about it in a different way so it doesn’t affect you so much? Do you act as a peacemaker? Do you give someone who is hurting some positive attention to help him be less negative to others?
Action decreases stress— emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Emotionally, it helps you build trust and confidence in yourself because you connect with your skills and values. Mentally, it gives you something to focus on besides your powerlessness. Physically, it releases the GABA hormone that puts the breaks on the adrenaline and norepinephrine. And spiritually, it helps you shift the energy of the situation and get a deeper understanding of life.
While you are doing this, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Surround yourself with people you can talk to, including family, friends or a counselor. Worry in your head is much more intense than worry that has been talked out!
Jodi Aman is a psychotherapist, YouTuber and author of bestseller, “You 1, Anxiety 0.” She has dedicated her life to helping people feel less lonely and afraid. Come visit jodiaman.com to make sense of life’s chaos, learn how to keep calm, feel peace and master happiness in your life.