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Dealing With Stress Before It Becomes A Problem

Dealing With Stress Before It Becomes a Problem

By Deb Hawken

If you are suffering from clinical depression caused by a physical imbalance then I must put my hands up straight away and admit that I’m not qualified to deal with such things, however, something I say in this article might at least help you to reduce or ease some of the stress in your life. So please accept my lack of medical knowledge whilst you read on.

Also, if you’re suffering from bereavement that is a process you have to go through in your own way and you should never feel that you are being silly not changing things. It is what it is and we all get through it but it takes time. However, this article might help you to avoid further stress whilst you work through your very real situation…so read on.

There are five main levels of mental suffering that many normal adults experience in their lives at some point:

  • Stress (the most mild)
  • Strain (as things get worse)
  • Anxiety (when you start to struggle to cope)
  • Acute anxiety (when you’re barely coping)
  • Depression (when you aren’t coping at all)

That’s the way the UK medical profession looked at it at the time I was diagnosed with acute anxiety, the annoying little animal that still comes up to bite my butt very occasionally.

I realise now that I started at the stress level when I was 7. At that time my life went wrong, an age when I couldn’t possibly have put any coping strategies in place. I was probably in strain by the time I was 11 and I went to a truly horrible school, plus my mother was going through the menopause at the same time I hit puberty.

The anxiety would have started at around the age of 13 when I started getting anxiety based Migraine, and the acute anxiety slammed into me on a beautiful sunny day when I was 16 years old and was out enjoying a nice walk. In once pace I went from as OK as I ever was to feel like the sky was falling in and I simply couldn’t explain it. The most horrible feeling that even now I can’t describe settled in my solar plexus and stayed there for many, many years. That’s the one that still visits occasionally and gets ousted like the unwelcome visitor it is.

I did ask for help and was supported by an excellent GP who didn’t give me tablets, but then she didn’t diagnose me either. I didn’t see counsellors because no one suggested it and they weren’t something that I’d ever come across. I literally didn’t know they existed.

I did eventually find my way to a Spiritual hypnotherapist and friend who treated me on and off for about three years and completely changed the way I looked at the world. This put me on the Spiritual path and helped me to make a pretty decent recovery. Until my first marriage broke up.

I won’t go into what happened because a) it was unbelievable, and b) it’s in the past. Suffice it to say that this very real crisis (divorce, redundancy and losing my home inside a few weeks) bought me to a GP who did diagnose me, and that really helped me to make sense of the situation in my mind.

Especially as he told me something very important. He told me that weak people never reach breaking point because the moment something goes wrong they burst into tears and someone else comes to save them. It is only very strong people who eventually break, long after they’ve reached the end of their tether. I’ve worked with people for many years now and I can reassure you that it’s true.

That gave me so much self-respect, and that in turn gave me the strength to fight back. I did receive some counselling and felt much better for it. Especially as the counsellor was extremely proactive, gave me methods to change my patterning and expected me to use them (which I did), and generally took no prisoners in the getting better process. It was clear, shape up or…well shape up. As I wanted to shape up and knew that I had to do it that suited me fine. Who on earth wanted to feel like I was in that moment? No one.

However, despite the wonderful hypnotherapy and kick butt counsellor, I still didn’t reach the simple truth that I reached this morning whilst mulling over a problem I have in my life at the moment.

Now those who have worked with me will tell you that I try to keep life really simple and avoid all the complications that over-emotionalism create, and usually they end up thanking me for teaching them how to strip away all the self-created confusion and break things down to their component parts. So let’s start by looking at that list again from a different perspective:-

  • Stress (things are beginning to go wrong and affect you)
  • Strain (you’re letting it go on too long)
  • Anxiety (you need to get a handle on this now!)
  • Acute anxiety (not too late but you’ve created an uphill struggle)
  • Depression (oops, or insert any swear word that suits the situation)

Then let’s think about being kind to ourselves. No one deliberately lets these situations build up, they start off simply, build up quietly, and then really announce their presence when it’s a bit too late to nip them in the bud. At 7 I couldn’t have made changes, I was a child. Nor could I at 11, 13 or 16, I was still ruled by a rod of iron that failed to mention the words free will. By the time I was old enough to know that I needed to make changes I was a victim of the kind of upbringing that never told you about addressing problems or changing the things that hurt you.

So don’t look back at your younger, less aware self, and start beating yourself up for getting into this situation, we’re all victims of our programming until someone tells you that you can change that programming. You can change your programming by the way, any time you like.

Also as an adult it isn’t always easy to change the things that need changing because there are so many external factors – or shall I call them traps?

My option at about the age of 18 was to walk away from my entire family and life and start again alone. I was too young, inexperienced and scared to even think about it. I was trapped.

Very importantly I was trapped by a lack of knowledge about other ways of thinking and living, and I would encourage anyone who doesn’t know where to start the process of change to read as many different books about ways of thinking and approaching life as they can. The answers are in those pages, and maybe one is right here. Answers have to equal action of course.

So let’s get to THE revelation:

  • Life is simple
  • Problems need solving
  • If you’re unhappy you have a problem
  • You weren’t born to be unhappy
  • If you hate what you’re doing for a living you have a problem
  • You weren’t born to be unhappy
  • If you’re in a relationship that makes you miserable
  • You weren’t born to be unhappy

To avoid further repetition let me be clear: You were NOT born to be unhappy. There is NO rule that says that you must be as unhappy as possible in life whenever you can. Unhappiness is a waste of time. It is also a CLUE!

So let’s look at the original list again from this simple perspective:

  • Stress (sound of loud warning bell)
  • Strain (get your ears checked)
  • Anxiety (what are you THINKING?)
  • Acute anxiety (ACT NOW)
  • Depression (oops, or insert whatever swear word fits the bill)

Really you shouldn’t get beyond the first warning bell.

Now you might be reading this thinking “oh it’s OK for her” and I will admit that my life is more OK than it’s ever been, but it’s never been easy and the reason it’s never been easy is that no one ever told me that I had to ACT and QUICKLY when things went wrong. So just in case no one’s ever told you I’m telling you.

Our society is based on stress, strain, etcetera, criticism and complaining. If you don’t believe me check the stress levels in your country and cost to the medical profession from anxiety related disorders. Surely no one can kid themselves that if their society is full of miserable people their social programming is positive?

This is the social norm, or default setting. Its what life is like. Only the rich get to do what they want all the time (and many of them aren’t happy). It’s how it is. It’s how it’s been for years.

It’s WRONG! It’s unnecessary and it’s a waste of time.

As I life coach I have a trademarked method of working through problems with clients:

The Four A’s of Problem Solving (TM):

  1. Awareness – I have a problem
  2. Analysis – what is the problem?
  3. Acceptance – this is MY problem
  4. Action – DO SOMETHING before I land up at the top of the original list!

* You might find yourself thinking that as someone else has done something to you then it isn’t your problem it’s theirs. However, if their actions are affecting you then you have a problem and the problem is YOURS. What you don’t take control of and own you can’t change.

When it comes to analysis don’t get yourself caught in that loop. You can talk to your friends for literally years and you know what they say about counselling don’t you? It’s where you go when you’ve worn your friends out. Now I know that’s not always true, just think of it as a warning sign if you realise you’ve been talking about this for ages and nothing has changed.

Moaning rarely gets you anywhere. Discussion is useful to clear the head, but if you ignore step three (action) you’re only going to land up on step one of the stress list sooner rather than later.

Let me just clarify once more, before I sign off, the revelation I had this morning.

I was worrying about a situation in which I find myself that could equally bring about brilliance or misery in my life. It’s one of those situations where you’re probably not going to be able to see the way forward and predict the future accurately because there are too many factors involved.

Then it suddenly leapt into my mind – “Is this situation making me happy and enhancing my life?” The answer is no. So far, it’s been quite stressful and to be honest unpleasant in many subtle ways.

So, the simple answer is – the situation is making me unhappy and has done so almost since the word go. Walk away.

I will let you into one little Spiritual secret though. It’s quite safe to walk away from miserable situations without worrying that you’ve just ruined your life path and destroyed your future. If those situations are right, they will come back to you in another way.

I hope this thought process has helped you and will encourage you to recognise immediately when something in your life isn’t working out and act on the first warning bell. Then you can try to change it but once you’ve given it your best shot you can move away before you start sliding down that list. After all, the only fun thing in life to slide down is a slide isn’t it.

Wishing you happy days and peaceful nights, and acute awareness not acute anxiety

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