Phobia and anxiety expert talks about stress awareness month

by | Apr 12, 2017 | Ask the Experts |

STRESS! Be aware of the triggers and how to deal with them

April is Stress Awareness Month so I thought it would be a good time to examine the different areas in your life that can cause stress and explore ways to reduce it.

Some of the main culprits are driving (road rage), your career/finances and major life events such as marriage, divorce or a birthday with a zero in it.


This sudden overwhelming rage is often caused by your primitive mind believing that your space has been violated and, ergo, that you are in danger. This motivates you to defend it. It can also cause a feeling of being disrespected. When another motorist ‘cuts you up’ you often feel that the person is deliberately trying to make you feel insignificant and, understandably, the brain’s fight response kicks in.

To avoid a messy confrontation, calm down by finding a safe space to stop. Start by taking deep diaphragmatic breaths (in via your nose for five seconds, hold for five seconds and then exhale for five seconds). As you do this, start to shift your focus onto one thing you can see, one thing you can hear and four things you can feel. Now repeat this process but increase the number to two things you can see, two things you can hear and three things you can feel. Keep repeating this, increasing the number of things you see and hear and decreasing those that you feel. This takes you out of your emotions and activates the other senses, reducing your stress instantly.

Stress in the work place can have an impact on your whole life. We all become consumed by the things we believe we have to achieve. When you are overwhelmed with projects the quick solution is to ask yourself, ‘What do I need to believe in order to feel this way?’, ‘What would be the consequence if I did not do it?’, ‘What would that mean about myself if I did not achieve it?’. Then ask yourself how true these beliefs are. You will be amazed at how this lessens the impact.

Major life events
As someone who has recently just had a birthday with a zero in it, I can tell you first-hand how easy it can be to get consumed with the emotions surrounding such a seismic event. This also applies to yearly seasonal events like Easter or New Year’s, with the stress coming from the belief that you should have achieved more by this point in the year.

Marriage is another significant one, you may feel trapped feeling am I ready to settle down? Have I lived enough? One way to overcome this is to make a list of everything you have achieved in the last 5 or 10 years and see how far you have come. You will be surprised.

At any point in your life your stress levels will be determined by your perceived likelihood of negative events and the consequences of them, balanced by your perceived ability to cope and the external support that you think you have available.
Remember that statistically 90% of the things you fear the most never happen.

Christopher Paul Jones,

Anxiety and Phobia Expert,
Twitter: @breakthruexpert 

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