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Stress is Not All Bad

Anxiety, fear, worry and stress are among the most complicated of emotions. They are often the result of poor mental coping.  Poor coping makes it harder to control other negative emotions, like sadness, irritation and even anger.

Reacting to stress however is actually an important bodily system.  Stress and pressure, instead of things to avoid, strengthen us to accomplish challenges.  In fact, stress and pressure are clear indicators that something needs to be done. Without stress and pressure, one would never work hard on a project, risk their life for another, or go the extra mile.

When the emotional part of the brain becomes too powerful, however, worry takes over, and the emotional brain goes into overdrive to change the future instead of doing what’s best in present circumstances.  As a result, the overpowered emotional brain stimulates things like panic attacks, temper outbursts, threats and violence.

Genetics, trauma and altered brain circuitry could play a role.  Diminished activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that controls planning and emotional reactions could contribute to anxiety.  Amygdala, an almond shaped structure deep in the brain that processes feelings could also be hyperactive.   The brain can be wired for anxiety.  Though symptoms of mental illness are sometimes less obvious, brain health is as important as every other part of physical health. If the cause of anxiety is unknown, it’s likely the brain is actively involved.

Whatever the root of the problem, learning how to cope with emotions is an antidote that not only keeps anxiety from becoming a run-away train, but makes anxiety a catalyst for healthy, productive responses. Coping is a skill the brain learns in order to experience less stress.  A focus on coping skills puts emotions to work for you and not against you.  Here are four coping skills to practice:

1.  Live in Harmony With Anxiety

When one allows stress and pressure and does not avoid them, studies actually show a decrease in anxiety.  Allowing anxiety to exist without trying to escape it removes negative reinforcement and strengthens a more positive behavioral principal.  Stress and pressure are a fact of life — throughout all of life.  Learning to make nice in the face of anxiety creates a more balanced, harmonious life.

2.  Birds of a Feather Should Not Flock Together

Spending time with those who create drama, or those who also have difficulty coping with their emotions have an impact on the emotions of those around them.  You’ve heard the saying “you are what your friends are” – well, when it comes to anxiety, it’s true. Happier people with good coping skills are a positive influence.  To learn better coping skills, align with good role models and positive influencers.

3.  Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire

Anxiety is a cumulative problem.  Even unrelated stress builds emotional debt.  Violent and suspenseful television and movies, emotional music, an over abundance of activities – joyful or otherwise–, unrealistic demands and chaotic environments accumulate.  Choose wisely and lean toward positivity, peace, order and calm.

4.  Remember Christ

Three times in the book of Matthew, The Lord said, “Do not be anxious.” The apostle Paul later reiterated, “Be anxious for nothing.”  Christ underscores this command because He loves us so very much. Our Savior, Himself bears our anxiety. Since all things are under God’s control, we can trust implicitly that He is also in control of what makes us anxious. Christ alone is enough.

 

Written By Cynthia Mitchell

Cynthia Mitchell is CEO, West Digital Boulevard, a technology company. She is also an Executive Coach and Consultant to start-ups. Passionate about education, Cynthia is a 21 year Homeschool Parent, Publisher of Family Literacy Journal, a Speech and Debate Judge, a Business and Education Motivational Speaker and a Parent Advocate. Cynthia can be reached for consulting services and speaking engagements at cynthia.startsmart@gmail.com.

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