Keeping a Cool Head Through Stress and Anxiety
Stress is quickly becoming one of the most impactful factors against our health. It isn’t always easy to manage our stress. In many cases stress is a result of anxiety and depression. Nearly 40 million adults in the United States suffer from some level of anxiety. It is believed that nearly 20% of first world population suffers from anxiety and only about 30% get some level of treatment. While this content is no legitimate substitute for professional help, there are a few simple adjustments that can be made to help improve things even a little bit for yourself.
Do your best to be informed about what is happening to you and around you. In 2020 there have been lots of stressful and difficult circumstances from political unrest to the worldwide pandemic across the world. Being informed eliminates the fear of the unknown and while it doesn’t make it go away, it gives it a familiarity and makes it less scary. Stay informed about COVID19, if you don’t know what is happening then it is up to your imagination to fill it the gaps of your ignorance. This is a breeding groups for unnecessary anxiety and even paranoia. If you don’t know what could happen, then your situation is as bad as you believe it is. This applies to any and all issues for your mental health, physical health, relationships and so on. While formal educationwill help you in any circumstance, just staying knowledgeable about your circumstances can make a significant difference.
There are many ancient philosophers and thinkers who talked extensively about the importance of intentionality. In a nutshell, intentionality is the idea of choosing your internal response to outside circumstances. It is certainly easier said than done. While it feels impossible no matter what happens to you, you have the ability to choose how you respond to it. The truth is that no matter what happens to you, you can response how you want. There is an obvious response to misfortune which is feeling sad or angry. Your attitude is completely within your control and it just takes practice.
Gives Space for Your Emotions
Most people have a negative relationship with feeling negative. A great illustration of this is the ending of the Pixar movie Inside Out. At the end of the film the main character realizes that Sadness is just as important to have as Joy and the other emotions. As people we assign a morality to certain emotions. Sadness is bad and joy is good. This is a harmful belief and that does more damage than not. Feeling sad or unhappy or angry is normal and natural, it is not something that you can control. Learn to give your emotions space and feel all of them. Don’t reject feeling “bad”, let yourself fully feel it and then let it go. Here is an exercise that can help you process your emotions.
- Breath in and out deeply.
- As you breath in say to yourself (possibly even out loud) “breathing in I experience___” (insert feeling you are experiencing)
- As you exhale that breath you say to yourself (possibly even out loud) “breathing out I let it go”.
- Repeat this several times for all emotions you are feeling as you begin to change how you feel.
This is a simple way to allow yourself to fully experience your emotions and process through them in a healthy and natural way. Do not reject any of your feelings but let them all exist and feel them completely.