Stress and Anxiety may at times be simply a matter of perception.
When life feels challenging, we tend to either go into our shell to hide from the world, what I call depression, or take our pain outwards which can show up as highly emotional reactions such as anger, sadness, rage and fear. Those are moments when stress and anxiety begin to creep into our lives.
People are suffering way too much with high amounts of stress and anxiety, in our North American society. They may have trouble sleeping, eating well and become dependent on harmful substances such as excessive alcohol consumption or ingesting illegal substances.
The fact is that our society places high demands on us. Or so we think.
Let’s look at a typical day at the office. You may have a deadline to meet, or you may have a highly demanding and unreasonable boss. You feel the stress and anxiety building gradually and develop health issues. The next thing you know is that you are now on sleeping pills and anti anxiety pills to help you manage your daily life.
It does not have to be this way. You have choices. But most people think they don’t.
This is where perception comes into play.
Let’s look at the office job. Your boss is demanding. How do you perceive him? You may perceive him as a threat to your livelihood. You may feel that if you do not meet his demands on his timeline, no matter how unreasonable they may be, he will fire you.
Well, in very small instances this may be true based on the job description. If you are expected to bring in large accounts, are being paid very highly for it, then I would say you most definitely are in a demanding and stressful job.
But in most middle stream North America, the jobs the average persons hold are not as demanding. Yet employees feel the same amount of stress as the highly paid wheeler and dealer.
Six steps to reduce stress and anxiety
1-Change the way you perceive the situation and the situation will change.
It’s really a matter of perception.
You can choose to see it as threatening to your livelihood, or you can choose to see it for what it really is. That it, the deadline you must meet may be unreasonably set, you are not doing your part of the job or the job requires more research and resources that were not given to you, and so on.
Assuming you are doing your job, then how can you change the way you perceive the threat?
2–Now this is the part that requires you to notice your thoughts and emotions around them. You may be thinking;
“I will lose my job”.
“He will think I am not competent or smart enough for this job”.
“He will find out that I really am a fraud”.
“They will judge me”.
“He never gave me enough information and I’m afraid to ask for it”.
3–Write down your thoughts. Acknowledge your emotional response to those thoughts. All negative emotions are fear-based.
4– Ask yourself, “Is it really, really true?”
5– Be honest and objective. If you find it difficult, ask what you would advise a friend in the same situation.
6– See the situation from another perspective. You may say, “My job is safe. I am safe. This has nothing to do with me personally. It is a problem that has a solution. Let me think of all the possible solutions”.
Imagine you are in a building with multiple windows. The landscape outside is constant and will not change. From one window you can see a playground. From another window you can only see large treetops and a paved pathway. Yet from another window all you can see is the beautiful lake with some greenery surrounding it. The landscape has not changed. Your perception has.
For the job situation, look at it from different windows in your mind. You will most likely find that your fear of being fired or judged may change. You may realize that it’s OK to ask for extra time or resources. Or you may find that your boss is overstressed and is projecting his own fears onto you. You can now go and speak with him (when he is calm) about the stress you are feeling.
Stress, anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, fear and other highly charged emotions are unconscious choices you make. You can allow them to consume you or you can allow yourself to perceive them as separate from you. It’s all about perception.
How have you been able to change your perspective in the past?
What steps did you take?
Has it reduced your stress and anxiety?
Please contact Therapy With Carol to get help in reducing your stress and anxiety.