I’m talking about your stress glass of course…..
When clients come to me for anxiety and stress or even depression. I use the stress glass analogy. I tell them that we all have a stress glass, we all have the same size glass, that can fit the same capacity of stress in it. And naturally we all have a level of manageable stress in this glass, and this is what I call healthy stress. This is what motivates us to get out of bed each morning and go to work, and gym, and cart the kids to and fro, to pay bills, to save for holidays and live in society. This is when we are in the green zone. I imagine the stress to be a tap that in this green zone is trickling, or maybe just dripping from time to time. When the glass is half empty, it’s manageable, sometimes however more stress gets added to the glass and it goes into the red zone. The tap of stress gets turned open even further and there is a more gradual pour of stress being tipped into your stress glass. These situations could be anything from your car breaking down, to your dog breaking it’s leg, to your phone being cut off, to being bullied at work, to being sleep deprived because the street cats where fighting outside your window all night, to having sick children etc and I am sure you could think of many, many more to add to this list. These situations all get leaked over in to the red zone. Now this red zone is HUGE, it can hold probably all of the above things in it without the glass overflowing, so as humans we really are amazing that we can manage all of this stress, and still live our day to day lives……but can we??
In actual fact if our glass of stress stays in this red zone for prolonged periods then, it starts effecting us on a mental and a physical level, our sleep gets disturbed, we feel tired, and strung out constantly, our thoughts are predominately fear orientated and negative, we focus on whats wrong with our lives, and all the things that are adding to our stress glass. Our Blood pressure rises, our heart is under more stress, our nervous system is on high alert, so we feel jittery and nervous. This is that critical moment when the glass needs to be emptied otherwise it is going to start overflowing, and when the glass starts overflowing this is the very scary, very debilitating anxiety zone…this is the zone where nervous breakdowns happen!
So how do we empty the stress glass??
Sadly a lot of people have set up unhealthy default plans to ‘try’ and empty their stress glass. These include eating, mindless eating, over eating, see when we partake in this kind of behaviour, what we are predominatley doing is trying to escape from the stress of life, and when we eat high carb, sugary food, the happy pleasure endorphin chemical is released, and for a very short moment we feel good, we feel safe, we feel comfort. But what this is actually doing, is putting more stress on your body, and mentally making you feel worse. Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and gambling are also part of these unhealthy default plans. That for a brief period we can ‘forget’ about our glass full of stress, only to find that when we walk out of that club after flushing $2000.00 down the poker machine toilet, that stress hits us again, this time the glass starts to bubble over. This is how addictions begin, its the constant chase to forget or escape. The denial of life and responsibilities and emotions and stress. Supress, supress, supress. Until one day it will explode!
However there are an abundant of healthy ways to empty your stress glass. Now I am not talking about, keeping your desk tidy, or writing to-do lists. These are necessary to keep the healthy stress in the green zone managed. But in the red zone we need to do bigger and deeper work on ourselves to release some of this built up stress.
Yoga, massage, walk the dog, swim in the ocean, acupuncture, *hypnotherapy*, low or no sugar diets,counselling, meditation, cycling, running, playing a musical instrument, painting, writing, creating, adventures, connecting with friends. The list is endless, and not every activity or therapy is for everybody…..you need to try and do and see which one gives you a good release, which one makes your glass half empty? Sometimes we go through good patches where it gets right down to the green zone, and then the tap starts running again and whoo your in the red zone, it is at this time we need to do more emptying, more exercise, more therapy to get back to the green zone. Always chasing that green zone.
So is your glass half empty or full? and what are you going to do about it?
Next post I will talk about , what happens when your cup overflows and you enter that anxiety zone, how to cope with this. And what happens when the pressure in your glass becomes too much to handle and it falls over and you have nothing left in your glass????? DEPRESSION!