To learn how to calm your stress system, it helps to learn how it gets activated in the first place. Here’s the typical cycle:
Step 1. An event sets you off. It might be a personal comment that someone made, someone close to you getting sick, a situation that evokes strong emotions. Anything. Your hormones kick into action.
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Step 2. You respond with physical symptoms. These can include subconsciously holding your breath, stroking your face, rocking, indigestion, headache, sweaty palms, increased hot flashes, increased pain, nausea, dizziness, racing heart rate, constipation, poor concentration, impaired memory or difficulty sleeping.
Step 3. Your physical symptoms trigger emotional symptoms. You may experience negative thinking, increased self-doubt, loss of purpose, worry or even a “screw you” attitude. You may feel like a victim or as if you’ve lost control, or inefficient, edgy, lonely, bored or like you don’t belong. The story connected to the trigger and the feelings engendered by the physical response and your hormonal responses are amplified. This leads to:
Step 4. You turn to behavioral attempts to self-soothe. Many of these self-soothing behaviors are destructive, such as smoking, indulging in fatty/sugary/salty foods, shopping, excessive drinking, drunk shopping, gambling, watching mindless TV or overworking. These changes then reinforce events that set you off again. The cycle continues until you learn to self-soothe or manage the stress in a positive way.
You can break the vicious cycle of stress with a productive response to any kind of stressful event: breathe deeply. Here’s why deep breathing is so important:
Try it: Twice a day, for five minutes, practice deep breathing.
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It is not uncommon for people to experience stress and anxiety during select periods in their lives. Having a positive attitude, taking a balanced approach to life's ups and downs, and using relaxation exercises are just some of t...he ways that people can alleviate stress and anxiety. More