stress-understand-stress-reductionGuest article

Understanding stress - reducing stress

Who hasn't heard it before? "I'm so stressed out," is the ubiquitous shock sigh. It's what you say when you feel driven, overwhelmed, restless, drained, irritable. But the phrase "I'm stressed" is basically as meaningless as saying "I'm depressed." Let's get to the bottom of this:

What exactly does it mean when someone says "I'm stressed"? And how can you "de-stress" yourself again?

In this article you will learn what fear and anger have to do with stress. And you will learn techniques with which you can direct your fear or anger in constructive ways and reduce stress.

One thing in advance: psychology knows, "we don't see the things like they are, we see the things like we are". How we judge situations therefore depends on how we subjectively experience them. This is a point where we can start with stress management.

Recognize feelings

When we experience stress, it usually masks the Basic emotions fear and/or anger. If you repress them, they create an emotional charge and hormonal release. This then gives rise to inner turmoil and the feeling of being driven - what we call stress.

The good news is: Our experiencing and feeling is absolutely manageable and steerable, "Know how..." is the all-important motto here.

The moment we learn to recognize and accept the emotion behind the stress, the restlessness dissolves. A kind of inner peace returns. The entire emotional and hormonal system calms down. We experience ourselves as capable of acting again, and the inner security arises that we will somehow be able to cope with the demands and find a good way.

Facing the inner reality

That sounds simple at first, doesn't it? But it requires that we really face our personal reality. Instead of avoiding the inner experience and distracting ourselves from it, it's about accepting our inner psychological reality - no matter what it is. This is very unfamiliar, requires a lot of honesty with oneself and is therefore a huge challenge.

But those who dare to look their inner experience in the face will be richly rewarded. He will recognize whether his stress is based on fear or on anger, or even whether the two merge. And he will learn to Use emotions constructively, and thereby again self-determined instead of helpless feel.

The steps to get there are:

  • Identify if you are an anger or fear person
  • Understanding where anger or fear comes from
  • Learn techniques to manage stress

Are you a fear person?

Many people experience themselves as stressed when they ...

  • at Time pressure stand
  • many challenges simultaneously have to do
  • in front of great Challenges/exams stand
  • new roles have to take on
  • suddenly alone are
  • assume responsibility must be
  • in new ones, unfamiliar situations come
  • an inner restlessness and Driven feel
  • sleep badly and are tired
  • suddenly in Conflicts get
  • arbitrariness of others are exposed
  • Dependence experience

If we take a closer look, it quickly becomes clear that behind this experience of stress is the basic emotion of fear.


Actionism is an attempt to dampen fear

Fear originally has an important and helpful meaning. It is a warning signal that reminds us to be alert, mindful and careful. However, when it comes to experiencing fear, most people react hectic to panic. They act, start very quickly, a thousand things to do at onceInstead of becoming outwardly calm and looking inwardly at the personal experience.

Panic behavior is an attempt to ward off the experience of fear and get a handle on it through actionism. The only thing that matters is to keep control and to avoid being at the mercy of the emotion of fear. The most extreme form of this behavior is the panic attack.

What are people so afraid of?

The desire to be safe, to survive and to have control is existential for all people. Yet on a daily basis, many feel overwhelmed. They have fear of failure and fear the fragility of life. The possibility of failure or having to bear unpalatable consequences for decisions is so threatening to many people that they negate and suppress these all-too-human truths.

The fact is, however, that they can very well be endured, even if they are experienced as unpleasant. The "magic trick" here is to surrender to the emotion and immerse yourself in it, rather than running away from it. Then the feeling transforms. For example, there may be an inner calm or relief.

Of course, this takes courage: going really deep into the base emotion is fierce. But the transformation of anxiety and stress into calm and self-determination is a gift.

Let's take a look at the most common types of fear below: fear of failure and fear of loss.

Fear of failure is the fear to fail

Fear of failure is the most common form of anxiety that drives people into frenzy and experiencing stress. make mistakes, have deficiencies, be only half as good as fantasized - these realities are often experienced as so terrifying that the possibility of failure must be avoided at all costs.

At the same time, it's insanely exhausting to build and maintain an image as Superman or Wonderwoman. It creates... Pressure and excessive demands. And this is where the stress begins. You get into a vicious circle, which often even ends in a complete breakdown. The constant increase of Burnout- Diseases has this psychological background.

Fear of loss is the fear of rejection

Many people want to be liked and admired in the first and foremost place.
...and they're gonna be great. Their fellow men are supposed to find them great and confirm them, then all is well with the world. The short formula is: I am loved - I belong - I am safe!

The price for this apparent security and confirmation is the renunciation of one's own personality with its rough edges. This is often anything but lovable and great. The fear of rejection is so strong that it is completely unimaginable for these people to be accepted even with their unpleasant qualities.

On this inner-psychic basis, the threat increases the closer the relationships become. For it becomes all the more difficult to hide one's personality in all its facets. "But if my partner or friend also sees the dark sides, he will leave me," is the conviction. That's why so many people avoid close relationships.

Again, this creates a vicious cycle that drives the person into increasingly massive self-denial. This enormous effort in turn creates stress.

Or are you an anger person?

While anxious people are driven by the desire to avoid something, energetic, temperamental people have a tendency to develop aggression when experiencing stress and overwhelm. Most of the time, they go to the Attack on the stress triggering factor - Man or thing - about.

In this way they experience themselves as strong and capable of action and avoid the deep feeling of helplessness ...and exposure. This is also an archaic reaction: attack as the best defense. If you look closely, it quickly becomes clear that behind this approach is the basic emotion of anger.


Anger as energy for action

When people develop anger, intrapsychically it is a very energetic process.

"Anger is energy and it needs a form and a direction - otherwise it becomes destructive."
Sigmund Freud

Freud used the hydraulic model from physics here. In this sense, anger is pure energy for action. People develop anger when they feel something is fundamentally wrong, unjust or disturbing - that is, when one of their central basic needs remains unsatisfied and they are frustrated. Through anger, however, the person avoids feeling dependent, at the mercy of others, and helpless.

Rage people wear armor

Instead, the rage person experiences himself as strong and capable of action. Anger is at this point a kind of armor through which he feels protected. Biochemically/hormonally, the emotion anger activates the musculature, which amounts to the experience of being active and being able to act.

Only most of the time these activist acts are so-called Skip tracingwhich in the end completely ineffective are. Because, as the term implies, they skip something fundamental and thus squander the desired effect.

When the Anger, however, is used constructively, anger can lead them to dare to change something in their lives and suddenly have the strength or courage to go against the seemingly safe rut of routine. But the awareness of behaving "wrongly" towards one's fellow human beings and possibly being rejected by them can also promote feelings of guilt and discomfort. The result: additional stress, which fuels the vicious circle.

The solution: Know yourself

"Know thyself" is an ancient philosophical thought that was inscribed above the Oracle of Delphi. And it is still valid today. In relation to our topic, this means: The experience of stress dissolves the moment the underlying base emotion is recognized and accepted.

But how does one come to self-knowledge? There is a technique that I would like to introduce to you here. It only requires that you get involved - and be honest with yourself, even if it becomes unpleasant.


Step 1: Take the right position

Create a quiet situationYou have the opportunity to do nothing for 10 to 15 minutes. Lie flat on your back - preferably on a carpet or a blanket on the floor. Bed or sofa are not suitable for this. Open your legs shoulder-width apart and place your arms outstretched beside your body, palms facing the floor. If your lower back hurts in this position, place a pillow under your knees.

Keep your chin slightly tilted towards your chest and make sure your neck is relaxed. As an alternative to lying down, you can also sit upright (without leaning). It is important that you place your feet parallel to the floor about shoulder width apart and keep your back straight. However, lying on the floor is more effective because gravity can support you much more effectively when lying down than when sitting.

Step 2: Perceive your inner reality

Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth three to five times. Take your time - your breath will come and go on its own if you give it the space. Look within, and notice what is going on inside you at this moment.

Speaking the inner truth out loud

Speak out loud what you are feeling at this moment: Say, "I'm tired" - or confused, overwhelmed, tense, annoyed, anxious, in control, protected, etc. For example, it might sound like, "I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed, I'm really really overwhelmed, I'm totally overwhelmed, I'm so overwhelmed, I'm absolutely overwhelmed..."

Be honest with yourself and repeat a perception until a new experience comes, even though it may be unpleasant. Continue in this manner until you have one of the five basic emotions behind your sensations. These are fear, sadness, anger, joy or shame/helplessness.

Increase physical reactions

If you feel an emotion that also expresses itself physically, use this.

Example 1: If you "I'm tense..." then tense your entire body, hold your breath and stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Then release the tension very slowly again and notice what is going on inside of you. Look carefully at what the tension is "good" for and what exactly comes up in you when the tension is released. Then wait for the next sensation that you experience.

Example 2: "I'm restless." Then allow yourself to physically fidget for 30 to 60 seconds. Move your arms, legs and head violently back and forth. Also use your voice, and make the tone that is right for you to this fidgeting.

Example 3: "I'm angry." Allow yourself to hit the floor with your hands as you do this.

Example 4: "I'm helpless, I'm totally helpless." Tears often come here - please allow yourself to cry. Always remain attentive as you perceive your inner reality. Pay attention to the direction in which your feelings and your movements develop. You will be able to recognize which basic emotion underlies this.

Step 3: Increase your self-love

To do this, remain in the lying or sitting position described above. Give you now permission to be as you are right now - no matter how you are! Say loudly and clearly to yourself "I allow myself to be..." or "I am the way I am right now" or even just "Isso!" A few examples: "I allow myself to be fearful", "I allow myself to be angry", "I allow myself to be helpless" "This is how it is..." "ISSO!!!"

When you accept yourself and your emotions, it increases your Self-Love. And that, in turn, usually allows for a deep relaxation that immediately brings you into another reality. You may become sad or feel your needs more clearly. No matter where the flow takes you, allow what happens and surrender to the flow of inner change.

Out of the relaxation usually come new impulses for action and approaches to solutions as if by itself to you. These are gifts that life has in store for all of us, always and everywhere. If you follow them, you will surely find completely new and unexpected solutions.

Step 4: Learning to act effectively

Now free yourself from stress by following the new ideas and acting effectively.

  • In the case of the crippling Fear means that you become active - in a meaningful, productive way that frees you from your victim attitude.
  • In the case of the quick-tempered Rage means that you recognize what triggers your frustration and can take specific action. So you can satisfy your own needs instead of having to attack your environment.

Because when you know what stresses you and/or makes you anxious and/or angry, and when you accept your inner truth and take it seriously, then you are able to take purposeful actions that will make your Dissolve stress-anxiety or eliminate the frustration that causes stress-rage.


Your reward for the effort

If you learn, practice and consistently apply the techniques described, you will soon be able to better manage your stress and basic emotions.

You will learn how stress becomes a door opener that allows you to understand yourself and your inner experience. Instead of feeling helplessly at the mercy of others, you will discover ways to channel your fear or anger in positive ways. Your emotions become "energy carriers". They help you to effectively take care of yourself and your needs.

In this way you become the designer of your life. You provide for yourself what you want and need - for what is really essential to you.

I wish you a lot of fun and joy of life on this path, which will certainly change your life forever.

This article is a guest contribution from Lisa Carpenter.

lisa carpenter

I am a licensed psychologist and leadership coach. To make the essential visible and to uncover immanent disturbances - that is my life task and my potential.

I am, so to speak, a kind of human sleuth for the essentials and all the disturbances associated with them.

My potential is mainly related to the specificity of people, of companies and institutions as well as to all interactive contexts.