Most people know their stress triggers. The stress cycle could be set in motion by something at home, or on the job. It might be kicked off by an emotion like irritation, guilt, frustration, anger, fear, surprise or grief.
Whatever the cause, the result is always the same. That fight-or-flight response can lead to a host of symptoms. Stress can be acute — coming in short bursts that then dissipate — or chronic — hanging on interminably over the long term, seemingly forever.
Of course, stress can move in even when nothing at all is actually happening. It can be initiated by something anticipated or perceived. The human mind is so powerful that simply worrying or thinking about a particular issue can kick off the same cascade of stress hormones, as if the issue is real and immediate.
Here are three ways to help break that unrelenting stress cycle:
1) Do something different.
This can be applied in two ways.
First, do something different to change the pattern and break the cycle. Depending on what the trigger is, look to see if there is a way to change the location, time, subject, or even the people who attend.
If hosting the large annual holiday get-together brings on anxiety and insomnia, ask someone else to host, move it from a dinner to a pot-luck brunch, or reserve a room at a restaurant.
If getting the children to school on time routinely brings out angry outbursts of emotions and makes for a stressful morning, try changing their routine, or your own routine. Consider moving departure time up by 15 minutes, or get involved with carpools where those hurried emotions can be rotated.
Second, do something different by working to respond differently and more positively, instead of falling back on typical negative emotions.
If work is not going the way you want, or if your husband did not pick up his dishes again ... if your in-laws have invited themselves over for the weekend ... if you are going to be late to an appointment because of traffic (again) ... take a deep breath and work to spin the situation around.