15 Sep Could the ways you cope with stress be undermining you? Here are healthier ways to respond
via TED Ideas by Wendy Suzuki
Good Anxiety is the title of the new book from NYU neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki PhD — but it’s one that will surprise those of us who think of anxiety as strictly bad news. However, through her work, Suzuki has come to find, as she writes, that “anxiety can shift from something we try to avoid and get rid of to something that is both informative and beneficial.”
The key is taking the information that your anxiety is telling you and using it to live in ways that support your well-being. Below, she explains how to evaluate the ways you cope with stress and change them for the better.
In the face of stressors and the anxiety they often trigger, we all develop coping strategies to manage and get ourselves back on track. These go-to behaviors or thought processes often function automatically, beneath our conscious awareness, and many were developed when we were younger and less mindful.
We developed these coping mechanisms to self-soothe or avoid uncomfortable feelings. But when these coping mechanisms stop working to manage stress, they tend to make matters worse, exacerbating our anxiety and undermining our belief that we are in control of our lives.
If you cope in ways that are productive for you, then your anxiety is probably under control. But if you cope in ways that undermine your health, job, safety or relationships, it may be time to consider your options.
What’s more, our coping strategies often reflect our relationship to anxiety. If you cope in ways that are productive for you, then you probably have your anxiety under control. If you cope with stress in ways that undermine your health, job, safety or relationships, it may be time to consider your options.
In general, coping mechanisms are considered to be either adaptive (good at helping us manage the stress) or maladaptive (bad for us because they cause other damage, through avoiding a problem that then gets bigger or giving us another problem, as with alcohol dependence or abuse). When the feelings underneath these behaviors are left untouched or unprocessed, those components of anxiety will grow and stay stuck. Then our negative coping behaviors only end up reinforcing our inability to manage or regulate our feelings.
Take Liza, a hard-driving career woman. A graduate of a top-ranked business school, she dove into a career in financial services and is well liked and well respected by colleagues. But suddenly she’s 41 with no life outside of work. She’s a workaholic, and up until now all of this dedication and motivation to succeed has paid dividends to her bank account and sense of self-worth.
But lately she goes home to her apartment feeling totally burned out. She drinks three to four glasses of wine to relax and fall asleep. Her alarm gets her up at 5AM so she can go for a run and make it to the office by 7AM. This is her cycle and it has worked for her for years, but not anymore. Liza now wakes up already feeling depleted. She is lonely, plagued with self-doubt, and beginning to question what is driving her so hard.
Then, if you respond by isolating yourself, you remove the opportunity for encouragement and support from your social relationships and take away a vital bad-anxiety buffer.
To better understand how this happens, it can help to take a look at what is actually happening in the body when bad anxiety takes the wheel. In short…
… keep reading the full & original article HERE