Feeling and thinking under stress
People react to stress in different ways. Some get really angry at the smallest thing. When stressed, some people would like to hide under the duvet. How we feel when we’re stressed out is also affected by what we think. We can use them to calm down, but we can also use them to scare ourselves.
Whether you are angry, aggressive, panicked, anxious, afraid, irritated, or upset, a lot of what we think is based on how we feel. in each situation, but also about the world and about ourselves in general. If you’re having a stressful day at work and think, “My God, how am I going to do it?” you’ll feel different than if you’re in line at the grocery store and think, “My God, this is taking so long again.” Whether stress makes you more anxious or angry depends on how you think, what you’ve been through, and how you feel about it.
Perceiving yourself helps.
Check how you feel and what you think when you are stressed. You will find that even when things are different, your thoughts and feelings are still the same. If you do this regularly for a while, you will learn more about how you think when you are stressed. Not only that, but you can also see if what you think is actually true or if you are just thinking things that don’t make any sense.
What good does it do, for example, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam in the morning, hit the steering wheel with trouble, and get angry? “Who are these idiots standing in front of me?” “You can’t even leave faster, can you?” If you believe: “Oh no, I’m late!” Terrible! How will my boss feel about me? Does that change the fact that you are in a traffic jam in any way? Does it help you get people back on the road?
And: Do you have to think that way and make yourself angry or afraid? No. Also, you could tell yourself: “Oh no, there’s a traffic jam.” Can I make any changes to it? No, not right now. So just take it easy. “Call me, let me know, and then turn on the radio for a while.” So you will have less stress during the traffic jam.
Our inner drivers
Often, we are our own strictest drivers. With demands such as “Always do it perfect” or “Make sure that you are liked by everyone,” we put ourselves under pressure and deprive ourselves of action. Such inner drivers are often not consciously present but are internally effective. We believe that we absolutely have to fulfill them. If not, we fear that something terrible could happen. Most of the time, we don’t even know what that could be. But with a little inquiry about yourself, it is possible to find out.
Why our fears are so strong
We often worry about things that could happen to us. Many people have the same worries as us. But when we feel this fear, we think we are the only ones who feel it. For example, some people worry that they aren’t good enough, won’t be loved, or will be left alone. We are social creatures who need to have ties to other people. We have these fears because of this. Even young children know that not being part of the reference group or being rejected by it is dangerous. That’s why a real or possible lack of love makes people very afraid.
We learn early on how to avoid these dangers by making plans, especially if our environment and the love of others are uncertain. And often it helps to say, “Don’t mess up.” Always be nice. Be careful. Or, if they already don’t have love, to learn how to live without it.
This means that the things we expect of ourselves are things we learned as children to help us avoid such disasters. And because they have worked in the past, as adults, we usually don’t question them. We pay for this with fear and stress when we think we can’t meet our own expectations.
A few examples of attitudes that can make your life difficult:
- Be perfect! Don’t make mistakes.
- Be popular! Avoid conflicts.
- Be strong! Don’t show weakness, and don’t make yourself dependent.
- Just be careful! Before making a decision, ensure that you have complete security.
Do you see yourself in any of this? Then consider how realistic these requirements are and whether you really need to meet them all of the time.Maybe you’ll find out that “always” can be shortened to “sometimes.” Maybe you can see that the things you’re afraid of won’t be as bad for you as you thought. Find out where you might be able to do without the demand and give yourself the freedom to act differently—to let five be straight. or to say what one thinks in a clear way. Or, if you need help, take it.
Do any of these things sound like you? Then you should consider how realistic these requirements are and whether you really need to meet them all of the time.You might find out that “always” can just be called “sometimes.” Maybe you can see that the things you’re worried about won’t be as bad for you as you thought. Find out where you can maybe do without the demand and give yourself the freedom to act differently—to let five be straight. or to say clearly what one thinks. Or, if you need it, accept help.
- Write down the thoughts that have gone through your head in a stressful situation.
- Divide them into positive and negative thoughts.
- Think about positive thoughts instead of negative ones. It is important that you can accept the positive formulations. So instead of saying, “Certainly I make mistakes,” you don’t say to yourself, “I’m definitely not making but rather, “If I make mistakes, it’s not so bad.” It is important that you consider the positive idea you want to use to be largely true.
- Think about other positive thoughts with which you can support yourself.
- If the stressful situation reappears, replace your automatically appearing negative thoughts with encouraging thoughts as soon as you notice them.
“Do it step by step” instead of “I can’t do that.”
You could tell yourself, “Try it first” or “Do it step by step” instead of “I can’t do that” or “That’s definitely going wrong” before a challenge. If you’re in the middle of it, you might think, “Crap, I’m so nervous again,” “Oh God, I’m going to fail,” or “My heart beats like crazy.” Maybe telling yourself, “Just relax, relax,” or “Well, it’s okay that you’re nervous,” will help. And when the stressful situation is over, be kind to yourself, no matter how it turned out. If something didn’t go as planned, thoughts like “Great that I got through this” or “I did the best I could” can helping wrong” before a challenge.
If you’re in the middle of it, you might think, “Crap, I’m so nervous again,” “Oh God, I’m going to fail,” or “My heart beats like crazy.” Maybe telling yourself, “Just relax, relax,” or “Well, it’s okay that you’re nervous,” will help. And when the stressful situation is over, be kind to yourself, no matter how it turned out. If something didn’t go as planned, thoughts like “Great that I got through this” or “I did the best I could” can help. “I’m not perfect yet, and that’s okay.”
And if it really didn’t work out, be kind to yourself.
Self-compassion means being kind to yourself instead of being hard on yourself. This will help you handle stress better.
What do I think about it in ten years?
Sometimes it also helps in a stressful situation to simply ask yourself, “What will I think about this situation in ten years?” This puts many things in the right light and creates distance.