You have probably heard the phrase “life is too short to worry” or “life is too short to be miserable”, or some other similar statement. The majority of people that say this are able to thrive on life, because they know that taking a step back and getting perspective keeps their stress and anxiety levels low.
Did you know: stress and anxiety are usually the underlining issues with many, many stress related symptoms?
Did you know: stress drives anxiety and anxiety drives stress?
In the last month or so, has a problem risen where it got out of control in your mind and possibly become a physical presence, only to be a simple problem to solve? It’s nothing to be ashamed of, as many, many people are in this situation everyday.
Getting perspective: An example
Let me give you an example of a situation that has gotten out of control just because no perspective was gained.
Mike gets home from a long day at work, he checks his mail to find a letter from his gas company saying he owes a small fortune, let’s say £600.00. At the bottom of the letter is an authorisation slip to send into the gas company to make the payment. It’s 14 days until the end of the month, his bank account is far from flush.
Not taking a step back and gaining perspective on the situation would likely play out like this:
Mike saw a large figure that he owes his gas company and has no idea as to why. He instantly thinks they are taking liberties so his stress levels increase. How on earth could the gas company he’s been paying £80.00 a month to for the past 6 months want a further £600.00 from him?
He realises it’s the 16th day of the month, he has paid all his monthly bills, gone out a few times, bought his partner a couple of nice things and the money left in his bank account is only enough to get through until next pay day. The result: Mike’s anxiety levels start rising.
Mike starts to wonder how he is going to cover the fee. His anxiety continues to rise, further increasing his stress.
Mike’s partner gets home from work and sees him all worked up and asks what’s wrong. He tells her the gas company is ripping them off, trying to take money from them for no reason. He puts into his head the gas company is in the wrong, his anger increases, again increasing his stress levels and anxiety as he further wonders how he can get the money.
Worrying about the money, he looks at payday loans as a quick fix, the problem is the interest rate will mean he will end up paying back £750.00 instead of the £600.00 “being robbed” from him. Mike’s anxiety goes up, that’s half of next month’s shopping budget taken from him just in interested.
Mike phones the gas company, stressed. He has to wait on hold for 20 minutes which makes him frustrated. Not only does he have to pay them money but they are costing him more money on the 0845 number he is calling. His stress levels increase again, as does his anxiety.
Finally, he gets through to the company and it’s someone he can’t understand very well; so he starts to get frustrated. His stress and anxiety levels continue to increase.
Half hour later, countless steps having been made pacing around his home with needless stress and anxiety levels, he finds out that his gas usage is higher than anticipated, but the payment doesn’t need to be made right away. In fact it says so at the bottom of the page, he just didn’t read it. Instead of paying £600.00 right now he can pay £60.00 a month for the next 10 months, starting next month.
A couple hours later, his stress and anxiety levels have gone down but the repercussions of his stresses, such as having a rather miffed partner (he blamed her for leaving the boiler on 24 hours a day for the past 6 months, out of stress), he missed their favorite T.V program because he was so stressed and it’s nine thirty in the evening and he hasn’t even cooked dinner yet due to being too stressed to eat.
Mike has been been finding it hard to calm down because he feels like an idiot. He is an idiot.
Does what Mike went through sound familiar to you? Well if it does, you need to learn to take a step back and get perspective.
If you worry too much, stress too much, over think all negative situations then you won’t be able to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Yes, it is that simple.
Taking a step back and gain perspective
Too many people worry and stress over things that are way out of their control, or even silly, pathetic little things that are just not worth worrying about (We will all do it at times). They blow situations way out of proportion, causing them further stress and anxiety that they did not need, this is all because they do not know how to get perspective on a situation.
Taking the example “Mike” went through earlier, if he were to have taken a step back from the situation he was in, were to think calmly about it by gaining perspective on it; he would have found out he could have paid monthly and not gone through any, or only very little anxiety. He would have been snuggling up to his partner watching his favorite T.V program while dinner was in the oven.
To gain perspective “Mike” could have thought about these four rather simple things:
- Does he fully understand as to why he owes the money?
- Has he read the letter thoroughly?
- He doesn’t have the money to pay them and so the gas company cannot take what he doesn’t have.
- Could “Mike” and the gas company come to an agreement?
- There is absolutely nothing he can do about this situation until he contacts the company to find out what is going on.
Taking a step back and gaining perspective is actually relatively simple to do, you can do so by following these four simple rules:
- The moment a situation rises that could possibly raise your stress or anxiety, step away from it for a bit. Nothing is as bad as you will make it out to be.
- Never, ever deal with a situation when your stress and anxiety is already high. This is an absolute no and a sure fire way to further increase your stress and anxiety; as your mind and judgment will already be clouded.
- Gain control over the situation by having all the information you need, if you need to, seek further information and advice. If you are ill-equipped to deal with the situation your anxiety will rise. Is it worth it? Can you actually do anything about it without all the information?
- Do not dwell over a situation you have no control over, follow through with rule 3 to gain control.
Reducing stress and anxiety really is just about getting perspective before it’s too late. Otherwise, you go through a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety.