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Avoiding Stress and Anxiety: It's All In Your Head

Updated on May 14, 2012
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Almost everyone has to deal with stress and anxiety. If you work then you have close deadlines, demanding bosses, annoying colleagues etc. If you're unemployed then you have to worry about making ends meet until you find a job; applying for jobs; waiting to get interviews; interviews etc. It seems that no matter what we do, we always run into stress and anxiety which will inevitably cause irritability, depression and thus other health problems.

Here are some ways to cope with these demands and stress by convincing ourselves that none of these things is really that important.

It's Just a Job

Easy to say, I know, but also easy to change our perceptions if we really want to. It can be stressful just listening to other people complain about the amount of work they have to do, how bad their bosses are, the office atmosphere and so on. Just tell yourself and actually try to believe that it's only a job. Sure, everyone wants to do well, but oftentimes people put more stress on themselves than what is actually coming in at them from outside. I remember one conference for a company that was dealing with coffee machines: the meetings were really serious and intense involving sales goals, profit margins and so on. Finally, one guy just said loudly "Relax, it's just coffee!" And you know what? People laughed and the atmosphere became instantly lighter for employees, if not necessarily for the big bosses. However, even some of them managed to smile. Most people who work just want to make a comfortable living and do a good job. If you tell yourself this instead of wanting to be the best and constantly stressing yourself out over bosses and deadlines, you'll feel calmer. Remember, it's just a job!

None of This Will Ultimately Matter

Stressing over little things always keeps us in the here and now, but in a negative way. Remember that 99.9% of the things we do will not be remembered after a few days by anybody, and will have little or no impact on the quality of your life. Trying to plan everything perfectly and acting as if everything we do - good or bad - is of vital importance and will be remembered by someone forever is not good. There is a Hungarian saying which might be helpful: "All miracles only last for three days." This is trying to say that all events, good or bad, are usually forgotten about or lose their importance after a short time. Sort of a "this too, shall pass". Just look at news headlines: the media usually covers big stories intensely for 2-3 days, and then move on to something else. Well, people are the same. Remember, we are fickle creatures, and most things that don't directly involve us will be forgotten after a time. There is no point in stressing or feeling anxiety about what reactions will occur if you decide to wear one outfit instead of another, or if you voice this opinion over that. Most people will not be paying attention anyway. Just think, how often do you remember or even pay attention to presentations made by others at work?

It IS in Your Head

Nothing from the outside can cause us anxiety or stress directly. It is how we see events and situations that cause worry, fear, anger etc. Some people become irate if they are not promoted for a job, whilst others couldn't care less. It is the value you put on events and situations that determine your reaction. Sure, it's easy to say, "Well that's the way I am." However, you can consciously change how you react to events. Try taking something that annoys you or makes you angry: when you experience whatever this is you turn into default angry or annoyed mode. Instead, just try to not let it effect you, or ignore the event, or just say to yourself "whatever" or "oh well", and you will find that instead of letting yourself fall into your usual emotional reactions you can instead neutralize them and move on quickly and feel calmer.

Remember, most of the things that annoy or anger us will never disappear, they are a fact of life and a part of our surroundings. This means that you will be effected by these things for as long as you live, which will ignite your usual emotions of anger, stress, anxiety or annoyance. Despite your reaction, these things will keep occurring. You do not have the power to change these outside forces. What you do have the power to change is your reactions to them.

Instead of getting annoyed or angry, just try to force yourself to ignore it, or better yet, try to find it amusing and have a laugh. It may be hard getting used to doing this, but you'll find that by consciously not letting those things effect you will eventually make you less stressed. Actually, learning to laugh at formerly infuriating things can actually lower your stress and anxiety.

Never take anything too seriously. Try to remember that being healthy is the most important thing. Everything else will work out somehow. We only appreciate our health when we are sick, but if you try to keep in mind that there are millions of sick people out there who would happily exchange your perceived job/family/money etc. stress for their vastly more important ones concerning their health, you can learn that your problems might not be as important as you think. It might just all be in your head, in which case you are responsible for changing your thought patterns which will change how you react and deal with perceived anxiety causing situations or outside factors.

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