Don't spend your life stressed out
As a therapist in San Diego, I focus on helping my clients find more effective and useful ways to cope with anxiety and stop stress. Stress and anxiety come in many forms and can be difficult to deal with on a daily basis. You might notice it impacting how you work, the way you parent, or even the way you communicate in your relationships.
Imagine an deflated balloon getting filled with air. As it gets inflated, it gets bigger and bigger. If you don’t slow down or let out some air at some point, it will soon explode. This is exactly how our emotions are!
We all have an “emotional balloon” where we store our emotions. Some people know how to release the air to prevent the balloon from overflowing and popping. Other people will continue to put their emotions into this balloon and it will occasionally pop.
The “popping” may manifest in you as uncontrollable crying, angry or violent outbursts, irritability, headaches, a change in sleep, reactivity, anxiety, and much more. Why not start focusing on letting out the air before popping the balloon?
Here are a few tips to stop stress:
- Exercise: This helps release emotional stress and anxiety while the body is releasing “happy chemicals” (aka: neurotransmitters). This is a healthy, productive and natural way of releasing the air from the balloon.
- Talk to someone: Share with someone what you are going through. Talk about what you experienced, how you felt or feel, and even what you may be thinking. By talking about stressful situations, you can decrease some of the negative feelings. Talk to a friend, family member, therapist, etc.
- Pick up a journal: Write about your stress, your anger, your sadness, etc. Writing in a journal helps get the thoughts and feelings you have bottled up and keeps them from staying active in your mind and igniting. Writing can clear your thoughts, sort out your emotions, help you make decisions, and may solidify how you will address the issue.
- Let it out: Let your body experience the emotion by physically letting it out. Examples are crying, yelling into a pillow, using a punching bag, or even going to a driving or batting range.
- Take time out for yourself: Plan some downtime, to just relax and do what you want to do. Often we have so much on our schedule that we forget about ourselves. You can relax by watching a movie, getting involved in a hobby, listening to music, etc. This can rejuvenate the way you feel and get you re-energized. Take a break from the stress.
- Take deep breaths: People often begin to take shorter and shallower breaths when they are stressed or anxious. The body needs oxygen to function and survive. Slow it down! Slow and deep breathing can help you relax and calm down. Try it the next time you get overwhelmed at work and see what happens!
- Let go of the outcome: Try to avoid focusing on the outcome, since you can rarely control or change it, anyway. Instead, focus on the moment and the task at hand, not the outcome.
If you are actively engaged in releasing your stress and anxiety, your balloon won’t have a chance to reach capacity! Figure out which stress relievers work for you, and stick with them. Whether it’s running on a treadmill, writing in a notebook, or meditation, once you have an effective strategy for stress relief you should notice an improvement in your anxiety. When in doubt, consciously remind yourself that life has its ebbs and flows — things will get better!
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653