To many of us stress produces a slew of undefined emotions. Stress, sometimes, brings down an ‘iron curtain’ on our clarity, creates fogginess, confusion, numerous physical symptoms. Some walk around sad, angry, scared or emotionally unavailable otherwise.
What's so scary about emotions?
The topic of emotions is logical: once you ‘get’ that our feelings have to do with avoiding pain and enhancing pleasure, you are practically an expert on emotions. Well, sort of. In most cases the pain is fear of being exposed; entering an unsafe, vulnerable situation, painful memories will surface and there is nowhere to hide.
Who seeks stress and pressure?
Not very many, but still, stress works for some as an adrenaline pump; the more the pressure the faster their brain supplies adrenaline. Socially you might call them lovingly, adrenaline junkies. As for the rest of us, there is no pleasure in stress. There is, however, emotional pain.
At the same time, as pleasure takes its prominent place in our psychological and personality development, so is the awareness of pain. Emotional pain is carved in our long-term memory too.
Painful emotional memories may be the result of being teased by classmates in childhood, losing attention due to sibling rivalry or in severe cases being a victim to illness and accidents. And with those memories, the pain and fear-of-pain will be triggered. The past has just surfaced into the present.
What happens under stress?
Under stress our negative emotions will be triggered. Some of us produce fear, sadness and anger. The mask that enabled us to function as workers, students, parents etc., is melting down.
The mask we hold up does not cover up our internal world well. The longer the stress last, the rest of our mask disappears. Some people reported to me feeling raw after significant lengths of time under remarkable stress.
How to deal with stress?
Identify the emotion that flooded you.
Deal with each of the feelings, by calling their real name. Examine their meaning to you.
Is it anger? Ask yourself what is unfair and/or unjust in my life now? If you can clearly answer these questions, some fog will be lifted. Deal with specific feelings of anger, not the general stress.
Is it fear? Can you recognize the danger? If yes, focus on the problem-solving part of your brain. If there is no real danger, my friend, you are experiencing imagined fear, anxiety.
It's always helpful in these situations to reach out to a trusted friend or therapist to work out these feelings of heightened anxiety.
Is it sadness that you experiencing, with waves of crying?
Crying is a natural and normal human expression of sadness. Respect your ability to cry. It will give you a sense of relief from stress. Trust me on this one, please; if you cannot cry at all, ask someone to help you. Join the rest of us in getting some relief.
In stressful times like these, it's important to be aware of your heightened anxieties to better deal with the increase of stress.
Breath. Hydrate. Self sooth. Get ready for the next life adventure.
A good method for relieving your stress when it seems to be overwhelming is progressive muscle relaxation. Click here for a step-by-step guide.