Stress Awareness is Your Key to Stress Management
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
How being aware of your early stress clues and triggers can help prevent high stress and anxiety and improve your productivity
What if I told you that the key to relieving stress and anxiety is improving your stress awareness?
Tips and techniques are great and all. But, improving your stress awareness system is the *true key* to long-term success.
I've worked with hundreds of clients, and they all say this was the one key that helped them gain control over their stress and life.
A fine-tuned awareness system helped them maximize their productivity, and reach their full potential.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Here are three steps that will help you gain a better understanding of your stress awareness system, fast:
1. Stress Awareness: Identifying Triggers to Stress
Triggers are unique to everyone. These are situations, people, events, etc. that will initiate anxious emotions within you. Triggers are not surprises, since they tend to be repetitive situations, people, or places that initiate feelings of stress and anxiety.
Many triggers come from childhood experiences and how we grew up. For example, if you were made fun of when you were a child for speaking up, you might feel anxious talking in front of others.
If you struggled financially growing up, then the topic of money increases stress and anxiety quickly.
Here are a few common triggers related to stress and anxiety:
1. Health issues: This could be related to a health diagnosis that is upsetting or difficult, like a chronic illness, unknown illness, or cancer.
2. Feeling unwell: When we are sick, we release more stress hormones, and this can cause an increase in anxiety. Certain over the counter medications can also increase anxiety, such as cough and congestion medications and weight loss medications.
3. Caffeine: Too much caffeine can cause an increase in jitteriness and nerves, especially if consumed on an empty stomach. People with high stress and anxiety tend to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, so this might be a trigger.
4. Skipping meals or high stress diet: When we skip meals, our blood sugar drops, and this can mimic anxiety symptoms. Eating meals that are high in fat, calories, and carbs, especially very processed foods, may cause us to feel sluggish, low energy, and sick due to lack of nutrients.
5. Financial worries: This tends to be a big trigger for many people. Worrying about bills, saving money, paying for things, and other financial concerns can often trigger high stress.
6. Parties or large social events: Many people feel triggered when having to be around other people or when it comes to small talk with strangers. This is very common for many people.
7. Dealing with conflict-many people feel uncomfortable dealing with conflict. They might take a more passive approach and either avoid conflict, or not speak up for themselves.
8. Poor sleep: There is a direct link between high levels of stress and poor sleep. When we don’t sleep well, more stress hormones are released into the body, and this can cause more muscle tension as well.
9. Personal triggers: This might be a reminder of difficult times in your life, grief, breakups, etc. Identifying personal triggers is very important as well.
Everyone will have different triggers and identifying your triggers can improve your awareness for better management.
2. Identify Early Clues to Increase Stress Awareness
In addition to triggers, we want to monitor for early clues that stress is starting to build. Imagine the check engine line in your car. What would happen if we ignored it? The car will likely have issues or even break down.
Our body system works the same way-it sends us clues that we are starting to get stressed or anxious, and it’s very important to pay attention to them. Otherwise, stress is more likely to interfere with our daily functioning.
Our body and mind send us many clues, but unless we know to look out for them, we likely will not notice them.
There are several category clues that tell us our stress is increasing:
Physical clues: The first, and probably most obvious clues are physiological changes in the body due to the fight or flight response in the body. Common physical clues include increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid and shallow breathing, chest tightness, feeling hot, and muscle tension.
Behavioral clues: This is how our behavior changes when we start to get stressed or anxious. This might include changes such as sleeping more or less than usual, eating more or less than usual, procrastinating or avoiding tasks, being more irritable and snapping at others, and other changes that occur only when we are under higher levels of stress.
Emotional clues: There are several emotional clues that usually happen before we are overly stressed or anxious. This might include feeling stressed, annoyed, frustrated, disappointed, and worried.
Thinking clues: When we start to get stressed or anxious, our thoughts start to change in a very negative way. Not only are the thoughts more negative, but they tend to be worst-case-scenarios, untrue, and unlikely thoughts. They are often about the future, what others are thinking of us, or negative evaluations of ourselves.
It is helpful to note that these thoughts are only present when we start to experience high stress. So, monitoring thinking is an important aspect of stress awareness.
3. Creating a Stress Understanding System
An important part of stress prevention and relief is creating a stress identification system. Once you have identified your triggers and early clues, identify your stress identification system. This is one of the best ways to prevent high stress from escalating and interfering in your life.
What are your top triggers? What are the earliest clues that tell you stress is increasing and likely to interfere in your productivity, energy, or in some other way in your life? Pay special attention to these triggers and clues to better understand yourself and to catch stress and anxiety as early as possible.
An important part of stress prevention and relief is creating an early stress recognition system. Once you have identified your triggers and early clues, put these together to better understand how and when your stress is activated.
What are your top triggers? What are the earliest clues that tell you stress is increasing and likely to interfere in your productivity, energy, or in some other way in your life?
High stress can interfere in our lives in so many ways. Our energy. Our productivity. Our sleep. And more. Learning to catch stress early is an important part of building awareness and managing stress to reach our true potential.
Are you sick of letting stress run your life? My 1:1 Master Stress Method Coaching will allow you to not only build your awareness system, but to learn to deal with stress effectively for better energy, mood, and productivity.
Book a free discovery call, and let's chat about how I can help you. I can’t wait to be your partner in stress mastery. :)
----About Dr. Julia
Hi! I'm Dr. Julia. Health psychologist, stress and sleep expert, and creator of the Master Stress Method.
I have worked with thousands of individuals in major hospitals, university medical centers, and primary care settings to improve their stress levels, sleep, and overall emotional and physical well being.
My current focus is helping busy professionals prevent and manage the high stress that is getting in the way of their productivity, mood, sleep, and their ability to reach their full potential.
My 8-week, 1:1 coaching program has helped hundreds of stressed out, overwhelmed, and burned out clients significantly reduce their stress and anxiety, improve their sleep, and maximize their productivity, in just 8 short weeks.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)