Learning to Manage Stress
Everyone has stressors, right? But do you know the point when your stress turns into anxiety or when the anxiety crosses over to panic? Have you been there? I have always been a person to multitask to the max with my extremely full plate and thrive on deadlines and manage to get everything done but somehow my mindset shifted from stress that produced quality work to anxiety that I was dropping the ball and not doing anything right and disappointing everyone.
Stress by definition is typically caused by an external trigger – mine are parenting, work, volunteering, meetings, and deadlines. Anxiety is defined by persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away – mine is triggered by my never-ending to-do list, fear of failure, situations where I can’t control the outcome, and a generalized feeling that something bad is going to happen – especially to family. Can you relate? Stress and anxiety can both cause mental and physical symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, irritability, digestive trouble, fatigue, and muscle tension – I can check several of these on my scorecard. It was crazy to me to learn that according to the National Institute of Mental Health 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. If this is you, you are not alone!
Stress is a terribly tricky little bug that can quickly turn into anxiety and can manifest into a full-fledged panic attack that can leave you sweating, shaking, and gasping for air. For added fun panic can turn on anywhere – work, the store, the chiropractor, even church! I, personally, am trying to work through all three of these conditions. It is not easy and thankfully I have a patient family.
Here are a few of my go to tricks when anxiety/panic start creeping in – do they always work, no, but I’m continuously trying to catch it sooner and train myself to control it to take my life back:
- Try and figure out if there is one main thing that is causing the most worry.
- When you first start feeling the anxiety creeping up talk to your spouse, friend, family member, etc. and let them know you are feeling anxious.
- Drink ice cold water and focus on the cold feeling as it moves through your body.
- Get up and move – often I find the anxiety grows if I have to sit still.
- Deep breathing slowly in and out until it finally lowers your heartrate.
- Spend time with a pet or animals.
If you are suffering from anxiety or panic attacks, please reach out to someone – if you are worried about someone, please ask if they are ok. Parents, please check in on your kids and let them know it’s ok to talk to you when they are feeling stressed – even if you can’t solve the problem it will help them to verbalize it. As I always tell my kids when they are worried about a competition, livestock show, game, test, whatever it is – show up today and give it what you’ve got today and that is enough. You are enough. For additional resources check out https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/anxiety-difference.