Are you having trouble getting over a stressful situation? Maybe you can’t cope at work when your manager puts too much stress on you. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by your work schedule and the mountain of chores waiting for you when you get home. Maybe you’re stressed about your relationship. No matter what the situation is, you’ve trained your brain to be stressed out when it happens.
The amazing thing here is that you’re stepping in the right direction. A huge blocker to overcoming problems is avoidance. So, you’ve already gotten enough courage to confront the situation. I don’t need to tell you how to get over avoidance.
But, you’re jumping in too deep, too fast. If you’ve made a pathway in your brain telling you that this problem is stressful, your brain is going to try and take that stress path every time it’s confronted with the situation. Basically, it’s great that you’re trying to retrain this stress path, but try taking smaller steps.
We are habitual creatures. A habit can take several weeks, or even months to change. I get nervous being in a mall filled with too many people. It would be too overwhelming if I went to the busiest mall and tried to change my emotions towards crowds. There’s a few steps I would take first before exposing myself:
- Find a quiet place where you can be alone. Just stop and think about the problem. Why does it overwhelm you? Is there an event in the past that caused you to feel this way?
- Write your thoughts down. You don’t even need a journal. Just a scrap piece of paper.
- If you feel comfortable, talk to someone about your problem.
- Understand that the emotions you feel towards the problem are completely in your control. If you blame the situation for your stress, you’re blocking yourself from improving. You have to blame yourself!
- Write out a game plan. Write down small steps that will slowly expose you to the problem. But not too quickly.
Once you’ve thought about the problem and hopefully written some steps down, it’s time to start exposing yourself. You’ll know very quickly if the steps are too fast, and you may have to restructure your plan. Remember to not put too much pressure on yourself. If you get upset or mad at yourself, you’re not retraining your brain in a healthy way. To change your stress path, you need to approach the problem in the most relaxed state you can manage.
You have to show your brain that the situation isn’t overwhelming. Remember that you have to put the blame on yourself, not the problem. Then, try talking to yourself about why you feel stressed about it. After that, you can progressively expose yourself to the full-blown situation. Don’t get mad at yourself, and take breaks when you need to. You’ve stepped in the right direction to rewiring your stress path. Just try slowing down, and you’ll get there in no time.