We’ve all been there: hot, sweaty, the tight feeling in your chest, the knowledge that a mental breakdown is inevitable and the stress is overwhelming. Unfortunately, so many of us struggle to pinpoint exactly why we’re feeling this way, much less how to alleviate or avoid it entirely.
A big factor in reducing stress is identifying where it’s coming from in the first place and distancing yourself from those things, so if you’re stuck in the cycle of stress, how can you escape?
Do you know how you respond to stress? If you don’t, start by figuring out where your mind or body first starts signaling to you that you’re getting caught up in the stress cycle. Maybe you get a nervous stomach, or your fingers tingle, or you feel a headache coming on. You may suddenly find yourself more sensitive, irritable, or liable to snap at someone.
All of these are signs of stress that can help clue you in to potential stressors, enabling you to avoid those things in the future until you can learn how to respond to them in a healthy manner.
Assess Your Stressors
If you still find yourself struggling to become cognizant of what sets off your anxiety, there are numerous resources available online that can help you pinpoint possible sources of stress in your life. Try taking a personal health assessment that offers numerous different ideas, many of which you may not even realize could be contributing to your feelings of stress.
Most of us don’t realize, for example, that caffeinated beverages can exacerbate feelings of anxiety or mimic an anxiety attack, and the solution to the problem is as simple as switching to decaf coffee.
Form a Ritual
When you do feel your stress ramping up, getting ahead of your mind is the best way to alleviate the problem before it becomes a full-blown attack. There’s no blanket solution here; different things work for different people. Some may find that a few moments of quiet meditation and conscious breathing can help, while others might prefer having a fidget toy they can use when feelings of anxiety come on, and still others might prefer to take a short walk.
Whatever you find that works for you, make it something you do only when your body or mind tells you it’s time to calm down, and your brain will start to associate that activity with feelings of relaxation.
Consider a Professional
If all else fails and you find your stress is interfering with your daily life, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a licensed therapist. While some stress is just caused by the ins and outs of daily life, it’s entirely possible that altered brain chemistry is exacerbating the problem, and no amount of mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing will change the pathways of your brain.
Here is when you should trust your health to someone qualified; remember, there is no shame in needing help, and asking for it tends to be the hardest part. However, the alternative is a life of crippling anxiety that stops you from fully enjoying the beauty of what the world has to offer, and there’s no need to suffer through that convinced you can pull yourself out of it when there are resources available to aid you in the process.
We all suffer from stress, and most of us struggle with identifying why and how to stop it. If you find yourself locked in a constant battle with anxiety, try following these steps to get back to the life you deserve: one where every day has some brightness to it.