For those who suffer from chronic stress, anxiety, or panic attacks, you know that sometimes fear can be all-encompassing. But what many of us don't consider enough is the toll that this can take on our loved ones.
Having a loved one in the family who suffers from stress or anxiety can be scary, stressful, and confusing.
Maybe your stress leads you to drink or smoke excessively: leaving your spouse to feel helplessness, frustrated, or even scared. Maybe your anxiety leads you to isolate yourself, leaving your children feeling confused or abandoned. Or maybe you keep all your emotions bottled up inside, never truly letting your loved ones in.
No matter what your case may be, the way we handle our stress affects those around us, and can even lead them to developing stress symptoms of their own.
If you have unhealthy reactions to stress, you have work to do.
It's unfair to your family and to yourself to remain a prisoner to bad habits and bad feelings. But where to start?
1. Write down the changes you want to make
It's difficult to change if you don't have a grasp on exactly what is wrong. Put your unhealthy reactions on paper. It will help to solidify and refine what bad habits you have and what you want to change.
Ask your loved ones what hurts them about your response to stress. Are they scared? Frustrated? Confused? Writing down the problem can also help you feel empowered and give you authority over your issues. So grab a pen and start writing.
2. Instill healthy habits
Look, this is easier said than done. It's important that if you begin instilling healthy habits, you set realistic expectations and take baby steps.
Exercise is probably the best and most important healthy habit that you should work on incorporating into your life if you don't already exercise and struggle with stress.
But don't think you're magically going to start running at 5 am four times a week if you currently do nothing. Start with a weekly walk with a friend, and let it go from there. That way your healthy habits don't turn into just one more thing that stresses you.
3. Find natural remedies that work for you
Sometimes you need to seek external relief for the stressful reactions inside. If you currently rely on double cocktails, prescription medications, or nicotine to relieve stress, it's unrealistic to think that you will suddenly go cold turkey and manage your stress without a helpful crux.
Healthy, low risk natural remedies are out there and can really help you keep your anxiety at bay. Instead of a glass of whiskey, consider trying a natural herb like Kava that has many of the same effects as alcohol without the mind-altering side effects. Instead of turning to stimulant drugs, try soothing yourself with a nice hot cup of coffee.
This will help to purify your home of substances that make you act belligerent and overly emotional, which will immediately improve your relationships with your family.
Everyone can let stress get the best of them. But life is too short to let stress derail your life or your relationships.
Photo by Caroline Hernandez