Did you know that stress presents itself in different degrees? That it can start by something as simple as daily worries? That it accumulates in us? That it can be silently consuming our subconscious capacities? That it can still be properly handled and managed?
Although stress is quite a modern concept, Hippocrates already discussed anxiety back in the 4th century BC. It is a problem that humanity has had to deal with since the dawn of time. In spite of which, we still seems to know very little about how to handle it.
In my line of work, humanology, I come across a lot of people who suffer from all types of stress and have come to some conclusions that I’d like to share with you here today, together with a few tips and tricks in the hope that they can help you.
- Worry, fear, anxiety and panic can be just different forms and degrees of stress: When any of those forms of fear is present in a person’s life too often, chances are that they end up escalating into the next level in this progression.
Worry can also become a form of stress when the person can’t control it. Those who can’t stop worrying over things end up accumulating a lot of cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, which are slowly released by their system each time they plan to “fix” a problem by getting ready for it. They are regularly preparing their bodies for the “bad something” to come. There are certain trends at this level:
- Overthinking is a form of constant worry.Those who can’t stop thinking without control, whose thoughts govern them, tend to always think about problems and worries. They can’t seem to be able to disconnect from their worries and are therefore constantly releasing stress-based chemicals. Daydreamers are one type of overthinkers. Most daydreamers spend their time also worrying, not enjoying fun or positive imaginations.
- The excessive need to control everything is another form of worry.Those who need to have everything under their control, the so-called control freaks, are in a permanent state of worry over their losing such control.
When the worry turns into “what if… ” questions, it becomes fear. Worrying over something can grow into fearing it very easily. All “what if… ” questions indicate some kind of fear. “What if that doesn’t work out the way I want it to? What if that other thing happens? What if that person fails… ” all indicate a fear of something happening or not in the future. The worry becomes more focused and the feeling more acute. The person’s body segregates bigger amounts of chemicals.
Constant worry and fear have a cumulative stressful effect in us. Being in a constant state of worry or fear leads to an excess of chemicals in our bodies. Those chemicals, if not properly managed and released, will accumulate in a person’s body and could grow into silent anxiety.
Worry, fear and anxiety can occupy a huge part of our subconscious capacity. When a person is silently and subconsciously handling worry, fear and anxiety many hours a day, that person’s brain is working overtime.
- The person is not aware of it. The conscious part of that person’s brain will deal with the conscious symptoms of worry, fear and anxiety, whenever aware of them, but the subconscious ones will still grow and multiply, making use of the person’s subconscious mechanisms and capacity.
- The mind is like an iceberg and our conscious mind is nothing but the very tiny tip. When a person suffers from chronic worry, fear or anxiety, visible, noticeable symptoms will be tackled. Unfortunately, that same person will also be subconsciously working on silent stress, trying to manage it, while it gradually accumulates inside due to a lack of adequate release mechanisms for the non-stop triggers. This reality is one of the main reasons why worry and fear can end up escalating into anxiety.
When the subconscious can’t handle it, the conscious mind will release it. The subconscious tries to keep up with the stress, the worry, the fear, mostly by keeping it all bottled up inside, until its mere amount is so huge, that it overflows into the conscious mind in the form of anxiety or panic symptoms. Thus, all those never-released chemicals end up forcing the person to stop and do something. By then, handling them is obviously much harder. There might be years of accumulation and poor handling.
So, then, what can we do? There are some obvious answers to that question. But maybe not so many obvious tools. Let me offer you a couple of both.
- Work with a humanologist. That is, of course, the most obvious solution J. Humanologists are experts in human beings and can expand on the understanding and tools beyond the scope of this article. Seek one out to help you recognize your level of stress, your triggers and the personal tools you need to change that trend in you. In the meantime, you can try the following tips as well:
Stop accumulating. Yes, even though that sounds obvious, how is it done? How can an overthinker stop thinking? How can a worrier stop worrying?
- Mindfulness: Fear is ALWAYS in the future. What if… always refers to something that hasn’t quite happened yet. Therefore, learning to be in the here and the now is key to those people. Learn to return from the future to the present. The more often you get back to the present, the less negative chemicals your system will be releasing. Learn and use mindfulness techniques to force yourself to be in the present as often as possible.
- Connect with the world outside. Many people who suffer from worry, fear, anxiety and panic spend their hours inside themselves. They often spend many hours in their heads. And they sometimes forget to connect with the world outside, with their reality. The more time a person spends inside, without a clear connecting line with the world outside, the greater the chance to fall into this stress trap. KEEP IN CONTACT WITH THE OUTSIDE REALITY at all times. Yes, introspection is great… as long as you are not disconnected from reality. Yes, meditation is great… as long as you are not disconnected from reality. Yes, being inside one’s personal sphere is great… as long as you’re not disconnected from reality. Then, make the CONSCIOUS effort to remain connected to reality and the outside world, no matter what. Keep on coming out for air and a clear anchor on reality.
- Time boxes. Design a certain fixed time to worry every day. Give yourself the chance to really worry for, let’s say, an hour a day. AND THAT IS IT! Once the hour is over, any time your worry, fear or anxiety comes calling again, tell it to return tomorrow, for the next time box.
Fight negative with positive. Some other happier chemicals can help you reduce the levels of accumulated cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine in your body: oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and the like. Learn how to release them more often and in greater quantities for two reasons:
- They fight the bad guys. Good chemicals will make you feel better and will help you relax almost immediately. Which means that the good ones will target some of the negative chemicals.
- When your body is releasing these, it can’t be releasing those. Thus, if your body is busy flushing your system with wonderful oxytocin, it can’t be producing the nasty products at the same time.
- The positive result is therefore double: there are less bad chemicals in you because the good ones are fighting them and you’re producing less because you’re busy doing something else.
Let them go! Nothing will work if you continue creating more and more of the nasty chemicals. Learn some tools to get rid of the stress you already have inside: exercise, practice laughing, apply the tools mentioned above to counteract and release the nasty bugs, and take control of your own being.
All these tips will help you handle your stress a bit better. Don’t let it grow in you until it becomes unmanageable. Seek help now instead of letting it overtake you and control your will. It can be done.
Enjoy life… ALL of it,