Anxiety and stress go together. Sometimes, it’s a build up of stressful events over time.
Sometimes, it’s one big event that causes you to lose your composure. It feels like it’s too much to handle. Your feelings may be so strong that you don’t know what to do, or how you will get through it.
The paradox of stress management is that in spite of how big or small the event is, the experience itself has no inherent meaning. The event itself is NOT what’s significant. What really matters is how you respond to it. Stress related eating is a habit. Whatever may happen to you – however good or bad, it’s not the event that defines you.
What defines you and determines your future happiness (or misery) is how you choose to respond. This means that the quality of your life is up to you, even though the circumstances may not be.
This doesn’t mean that you should be indifferent about what happens to you!
The greatest stress relief skill to cultivate is to create peace inside, no matter what is happening around you.
Of course, stressful events will trigger emotions, such as anger and fear, that you will need to honor and process. But your losses can be a lot more manageable if you can respond with grace, calmness and courage.
This may sound impossible to do when faced traumatic circumstances, but it’s actually liberating. It means that you no longer have to strive to control the external circumstances in your life. All you have to do is master your own reactions!
Learning to shift out of negative moods in highly charged situations takes skill and practice.
The more negatively charged the situation is, the more difficult it can be to choose and direct the feelings around it. And yet, this is exactly what is necessary.
Don’t deny your emotions – they are actually gifts to you – signals that something in your life needs to change.
Identify and express your feelings about the situation, but try not to get stuck in them.
Give yourself time to process your initial response.
You can gather support from family and friends, but don’t get caught up in the righteousness and drama that stressful events can create.
To avoid stress eating, try to take the focus off what’s wrong with the stressful situation and try to find something more positive you can acknowledge.
Expect something good to come out of the changes that will occur.
Consciously choose how you want to respond. As strong as your feelings may be, you don’t want to make the situation worse by harming yourself (stress eating) or someone else.
You may not have a choice about some stressful event that occurs, but you always have the option to consciously choose how you want to interpret those circumstances, and how you want to respond. These decisions involve both how your cognitive and behavioral choices – how you think about something, and what you intend to do about it.
Try to create a conscious shift out of the negative emotional state as quickly as possible. This is done by processing the feelings (by thinking, talking and writing, not stuffing them with food).
Sit with the feelings and try to think of a different way to think about the stressful event that will make you feel better. Then think of a small action step that will help you make progress.
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