Stress or Anxiety- How Do I Know?

Stress or Anxiety? How do I know? Everyone who lives and breathes experiences stress. Your problems are not from the amount of stress you have, but how you handle it. Stress is annoying, but anxiety is debilitating. Stress is responsible for everything from headaches to cancer. It is blamed for short tempers and bad manners. It is blamed for poor sleep and infertility. I could go on because the list is infinite. So, is it worth spending a few minutes learning how stress is affecting your life, your relationships and your health? Stress is your response to stressors; things that are happening that are bothersome, whether real or imagined. Anxiety is the stressful feeling from that stays long after the stressor has stopped. My anxious clients have told me that they feel so scared that they think they are going to have a heart attack or die. Anxiety is a fear that usually has its roots in something that happened before age 10. Although you survived it and its over, the memory of it is there, and seems to take on a life of its own. You actually become afraid of the feeling of fear. It is triggered by anything or nothing, creating more fear. Consciously you have no idea what the initial event was but it remains in your unconscious mind. Although there are medications for anxiety, hypnosis is the most effective way to eliminate it completely by re-educating the unconscious mind that it has passed and you are safe. It is not necessary to live with anxiety and don’t believe anyone that says you have to be on medication for anxiety for the rest of your life. What if they are wrong? Until you have explored all your options, don’t accept a “rest of your life” response for anything! It is also important to note that depression is very different from anxiety. They sometimes seem to come together, but they are separate conditions and issues. You can find many definitions of ‘stress’ but the one that I will use here is, the body’s response to change. The change can be anything from a bell ringing to someone cutting you off while you’re driving. I know you have a million more. The only way your body deals with this change is to release adrenaline into your system. This adrenaline creates a series of chemical reactions in your body that affects every cell, organ and muscle. The purpose of these reactions is to make you stronger and faster to deal with the ?danger’.  If you were a skunk, every time you were stressed, everyone around you would immediately know. So, there is something to be said for a little adrenaline. At least it doesn’t stink!   The stress reactions that occur range from heart pounding, fast breathing and sweating, to dry mouth, tense muscles and many systems of the body postponing their functioning until the event passes.  When you have constant stress your body never gets a chance to go back to ?normal’.  Without getting too technical, the point is that systems like immune, digestion and reproduction temporarily suspend activity during a state of stress. When you remain in a stressful state for prolonged periods of time your body systems do not function properly, creating illness, discomfort, disease and much more. The release of adrenaline is referred to as the flight or fight response. If you are running away from something scary or need to fight, as soon as you are ‘safe’ everything returns to normal. However, there are times when you can’t run and you can’t fight. At those times, you ?freeze’ and all that adrenaline gets pushed down into the body instead of being used up.  Over time, this builds up and creates a state of stress that you become used to.  The consequence of this state is what feels so uncomfortable.  The effects on the body are very profound. Blood pressure rises because your heart is pumping harder, muscles stay tense causing neck, back or shoulder pain, those systems that were mentioned before are not working well and you feel pain or discomfort all over. Many people hold their stress in their gut resulting in digestive issues, often referred to as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Some hold their stress in their neck and shoulders creating headaches and neck pain. Fibromyalgia is a good example of a relatively new diagnosis that means stress and pain all over your body. When you learn to reduce or control the stress, everything begins to feel better. You cannot control the world around you but you have 100% control of how you allow it to affect you! The following is an abridged list of the conditions that are created or aggravated by stress; infertility, colds and flu, headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, anger, irrational thoughts and fears, weight gain, heart problems and many others. Medical doctors are generous in offering medications to relieve the symptoms but there are side effects to every drug you use. The next article will have details about managing and reducing stress but here are some tips to get you started: Learn to take deep, yoga like breaths. This shuts off the adrenaline and gives you instant relief. Exercise. Any exercise from dancing and walking to yoga and gym workouts will burn off the unneeded adrenaline. Change your self-talk to positive affirmations. Sometimes we create our own stress with negative thoughts. Meditate or visualize relaxing places or experiences with your eyes closed and imagine you are there. This will immediately change the way you feel. Listen to music that is calming and relaxing. And.have fun! If you need help or coaching through this process seek out help. Once you learn new ways to handle stress, you gain control of your life and health! Hypnosis is very effective for reducing stress and helping you reframe those things that are creating stress in your life. Fern Tausig is a certified hypnotist, life coach, motivational speaker and health educator. She can be reached at 203-283-4567

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