Do you find it difficult to make decisions? Do you feel generally unsettled and sometimes downright irritable? When you stop and think about it are you aware of an underlying sense of anxiety or worry that permeates every aspect of your life?


If you’re nodding your head to all or most of these questions chances are that you are suffering from chronic stress.


Although the word stress is frequently heard it’s far reaching long term damage is little appreciated. Allowing it to continue builds invisible barriers in your life and limits your ability to simply enjoy life and your capacity to express emotions and appreciate opportunities. If a sense of stress becomes the norm rather than the exception you run the risk of inflicting serious damage to your health and limits to your future happiness.


Think about it – imagine how different your life would be if you just went ahead with decisions and once you made those decisions they didn’t come back to haunt you. Imagine how much more energy you’d have to enjoy activities that you put off now, because you ‘don’t feel up to it,’ or you ‘just have to get some extra work done.’


Don’t worry if you feel all of the above is pertinent – you are not alone. Stress and anxiety are commonplace in competitive environments and most workplaces. Unfortunately nowadays we are bought up to believe that you must be seen to succeed at everything and that you must be able to buy all the latest products and gizmos to add short-term enjoyment to your life.


With this kind of everyday pressure to face it’s not by accident that such conditions as IBS, chronic backache, depression, psoriasis and migraine are on the increase in our hi-speed, consumer oriented society. Understandably when we fall pray to these conditions we seek our doctor’s advice, who will invariably prescribe a drug regime. This traps you in a syndrome of dependency on drugs and feelings of failure because you are unable to cope with life like everyone else seems to.


What Can You Do to Avoid the Stress Trap?

The simple answer is to learn the art of living consciously and being self-aware in the right way. Instead of constantly going over thoughts in your head that point out your mistakes and what everyone else is thinking, ask yourself some useful questions.


You could start by posing the question: ‘How am I contributing to my feelings of stress?‘ This could lead you to examine what exactly you’re saying to yourself in your head and noticing whether it’s of value or helpful.


Then perhaps check whether you’re tensing up your body anywhere. You may suddenly be aware that every time you talk to a certain person you are unconsciously tensing up your neck and shoulders.


Now check whether you’re habitually imagining things going wrong, or rehearsing arguments to have or how to defend yourself.


Changing your thinking in this way may seem subtle but it has far reaching effects. Firstly it puts you back in control and makes you concentrate on the here and now instead of racing off into your own make-believe land of disaster.


Other key steps to the road of recovery and life enhancement are:


Acknowledge your current feelings – being aware is the first step to recovery.


Get help – seeking support is not a sign of weakness but a step of growth. Talking with a therapist, friends or family about your concerns and frustrations relieves emotional tension and brings a sense of relief – you’re not alone.


Learn how to relax – we so often feel that lying inert in front of the TV of an evening is relaxing. It isn’t. Your mind and body need the benefits of regular relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, calm moments of mental space, regular exercise. The resulting energy and clear head thinking you’ll experience will convince you of their worth.


Doing any or all of these exercises will help you regain control and start to create the life you were meant to have. Why wait any longer?