3 Steps to Stay Happy and Avoid Toxic Stress
Hello, all! I’m Kandice (wave!) I am thrilled to be sharing with you here on Adventuring Kelsey. I’m a huge fan of Kelsey’s mission to help us find alignment and happiness as we chase our dreams!
Today I’m giving you three necessary steps to help you manage your stress levels while you’re conquering all those goals. I want you to stay in that happy, healthy zone where you can thrive! We’re going a bit deep, so let’s dive in.
There are truly a million beautiful things about our lives that can bring us happiness; our families, our friends, our homes, our jobs (the good parts), a beautiful day, etc. It really is a wonderful life!
In the midst of this wonderful life, though, there are also a million things that can cause us major STRESS. The never-ending to-do lists, the financial strains, the unexpected setbacks, the jam-packed schedules, the relationship struggles, and the list goes on! Stress is an inevitable part of life, but I have good news! There is a way to process this stress in an emotionally healthy way and keep it from robbing you of your happiness.
Did you catch that key word I threw in there? Emotionally. Our emotions have everything to do with our stress levels! You see, stress in itself is actually good for us. It’s how we grow and develop as human beings. But if we don’t know how to process it, we quickly become buried in emotions like pressure, overwhelm, negativity, and the like. This difficult place to be is what is referred to as the toxic stress zone.
I was buried in this place for years and had no idea! I thought it was normal to feel that kind of stress. I mean, we’re all busy, right? We all have a million things going on, and I honestly love being productive. Maybe you feel the same!
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with a chronic thyroid disorder that I realized what I had been doing to myself. I was drowning in pressure, felt completely overwhelmed with work, and was allowing my circumstances to control my emotions. What I thought was just “normal stress” was actually toxic for me and was wreaking havoc on my mind, my emotions, and my body. I had no idea!
Perhaps you’re in the same boat. You feel overwhelmed. Exhausted. Extreme pressure. You’re unsure of how long this uncomfortable ride is going to last. It’s no fun at all, and I’ve been right where you are. Over the past few years, I’ve learned how to get off of this terrible ride and find happiness, hope, and contentment in the midst of the stress. I still encounter the same struggles, but now I know how to process my emotions and keep myself far from the danger zone of toxic stress. I want to teach them to you, too!
Here are three steps that will empower you to stay strong, happy, and stable in the midst of stress:
Step #1: Reflect.
In order to manage your stress, you have to understand it. You have to sit down, get quiet, and determine the source of emotional stress you’re experiencing. Spend some time reflecting. Consider your patterns and your tendencies. When does this stressful feeling show up the most? What causes it? Where are its roots?
I want to share with you a somewhat minor example of stress in my own life that will help me paint this picture for you. I used to start my days at work feeling bitter and annoyed. I really did love my job, but I was often already stressed to the max when I arrived. It was an uncomfortable feeling and it set me up for a bad day. It was happening more and more often and was causing me unnecessary stress. In order to figure out why, I had to do some serious reflecting. Why was I annoyed? Was it the act of coming to work? Was it the job itself? Was it the people I had to encounter that day?
Upon reflecting, I noticed that this stress always occurred when I was running late. I didn’t realize it, but my anxiety and frustration about being late was feeding into my mood big time. This seems like a small issue, and maybe it is. But one small issue combined with the countless other ones we face becomes a very big deal! Stress is stress, and there’s only so much of it we can take.
Whatever you’re feeling, determine the root of the emotion. You might be surprised by what you find.
Step #2: Find the lie.
Now that you know the source of your stress, you have to find the lie you’ve been telling yourself. Our own thoughts are a major power player in our battle against stress!
Hear me out. When I was driving to work and feeling all of the anxiety and stress, I felt it because I was telling myself lies the whole way there. I was subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) telling myself that I was irresponsible. That I was immature. That I was unprofessional. And that everyone at work thought those same things about me. I felt terrible! I was on the edge of my seat the whole drive to work desperately trying to be on time so I could prove that I wasn’t any of those things. Talk about stress!!
The things you think about and the way you perceive situations are the key to avoiding toxic stress! If you’re overwhelmed, what are you telling yourself? Are you telling yourself that it’s impossible? If you feel guilty, are you telling yourself that it’s all your fault? Hunt down those lies and get rid of them!
Step #3: Tell yourself the truth.
So, you reflected and found the source of your stress. You identified the lie you’ve been believing. Now it’s time to tell yourself the truth.
Since your thoughts and perceptions hold all the power, you better start relying on some truth! Here was the truth in my situation. I wasn’t irresponsible. I was a gifted and skilled teacher. I wasn’t immature. I was a professional with endless potential. Telling myself these things and actually believing them set me free from the anxiety I felt on the way to work. I could start my day, late or not, knowing that I was meant to be there, and that I was going to do great work that day. The stress disappeared!
Now, I did have to solve the problem of being late, but I was now in a much better position. I was no longer allowing my circumstance to determine my emotions. I could stay on top of my emotions by telling myself the truth, thus allowing me to stay out of the toxic stress zone. Are you tracking with me?
Whatever stressful emotions you are dealing with, uncover the lie and tell yourself the truth. This is the key to overcoming toxic stress! If you need some help uncovering those lies and declaring the truth, I’m here for you! I have a five day email course Self Care from the Inside Out with tons of examples to get you started. Each day you’ll get a new email dealing with a particular emotion. You’ll get action items and thought replacements to help you process your stress in a healthy way and get you out of that toxic stress zone for good!
You deserve to feel happy. You deserve to feel peace and contentment. Take this free course and start telling yourself the truth!
I sincerely hope these steps will be helpful for you as you live out your truly beautiful life.
You got this!