Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Stress and Anxiety Management

Managing your Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety is a common issue. A little anxiety is even necessary for optimal performance. However, too much anxiety decreases performance. Coping skills which focus on controlling anxiety levels are a main component of my treatment. But what happens when stress and anxiety spill over into other aspects of life?

What is Stress?

Stress is something we experience everyday and most often considered bad. However, stress is integral to our lives but too much stress kills. Too much Stress, unfortunately, seems to now be the norm; this effect is likely due to the constant psychological stress or Chronic Stress we find ourselves entrenched in. It is this exposure to chronic stress that is creating a modern health epidemic.

Stress, contrary to belief, is a normal and necessary process. Minimized exposure to stressful conditions acts to help us adapt and learn. Without stress, we would not be able to improve or even survive. Stress, however, becomes problematic when the stress is too great or too prolonged. The types of stress have changed, as our societies and technologies have evolved. Stressful situations have shifted away from fighting or escaping predators towards psychological anxiety or stress that is non-life threatening. We tend to dwell on future and past events, worrying about their outcomes, triggering predictable and primitive stress responses. Stress creates wide-spread effects on the mind-body, altering our behaviors and emotions, activating more reflexive responses. Severe or prolonged stress wears you down, and alters aspects of the nervous system. Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression, disease, and even death.

What Are Some of the Symptoms of Chronic Stress?

Agitated, anxious, and quick to anger
Feeling isolated and withdrawn
Lack of energy
Frequent colds and infections
Self medicating: Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs as a relaxation aid
Sleeping problems
What Are Some of the Long-Term Effects?
Heart Disease
Autoimmune Diseases

How Can We Combat Chronic Stress?
We are beginning to recognize the direct and indirect roles chronic stress plays in a multitude of diseases and disorders. Fortunately, there are many ways you can help yourself combat the deleterious effects of Chronic Stress. Simple behaviors like sleep, diet and exercise, as well as, developing attentional skills can help control the harmful effects of unmitigated psychological stress.

As stated previously, we humans tend to dwell on things, constantly worrying about most of them. Unfortunately, our bodies react to worrying about bills or relationships like we react to being chased by a bear. Hence, stress by any other name is still stress. Learning to decrease our anxiety levels associated with non-threatening situations is integral to living a healthy and happy life. Controlling anxiety can be accomplished through a variety of “Attentional Techniques” including, prayer, meditation, mindfulness training, and distraction.

We have great choice in altering our lifestyle and lowering the impact of stress on our health and ultimately our lives.