Anxiety – Stress from the inside!

Anxiety - stress from the inside

Broadly speaking, even our external stressors are really internal ones.  It’s not what we have to deal with that causes stress, it’s how we deal with it.


A while ago I had a bit of a weird time of it myself.  My own stress levels went through the roof for a while.  But the really strange thing was that I didn’t really have anything to be stressed about.  Sure I was working hard, but that work is mostly fun and enjoyable.  I don’t work long hours either.  So I have plenty of spare time and even live next to the beach.

But my stress levels were getting worse and worse.  I kept getting stroppy all the time.  I was always complaining.  And, I’m ashamed to say, I even kept shouting at my wife.

After much soul searching, I came to recognise a myriad of  very difficult emotions that I had been busy suppressing.  Disappointment, embarrassment, frustration, even helplessness, to name a few.

Now, there are couple of really important things to know about what happens when we suppress our emotions.

The first is that it takes a huge amount of effort to keep them down.  HUGE!  The strain of that creates its own stress.  Just imagine straining to keep a lid on a boiling pot with the steam hissing up through your fingers and you will  have some idea.

​Emotions are there to be expressed.  They are the body’s pressure valve.

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Secondly, emotions are there to be expressed.  They are the body’s pressure valve.  If we suppress them, they will still get out.  In some form, in some way they will show themselves.  In my case it has always been anger.

Until this time of healing, I had shut down, disconnected and, emotionally speaking, withdrawn from the world.  And I kept getting angry all the time.  Maybe your pressure valve releases anger too?  Or maybe you worry intently, or panic?  Perhaps you shut down to complete silence?  Maybe a mixture of two or more?

None of these would be necessary if we simply allowed our difficult emotions to flow through us.

The third thing to note is this. Our suppressed emotions are never as bad to deal with as we think they are.  Once we discover that, we can allow them to flow through us and they pass very quickly.  This enables us to deal with so much more in a calm and considered way.

Next time you find something hard to deal with and your automatic response is about to kick in, try the following.  It will melt a lot of your stress away immediately and help you handle the most difficult situations with ease.  As with everything, for it to work really well, you need to practise it regularly.


​Don't React Automatically

​Don’t react automatically!  If you are someone who finds it difficult not to overreact in an automatic fashion you might want to do something to get your ambient stress levels down first with an intervention (ask me about The Elite Stress Coaching Program!).  You need to get yourself to a place where you can take two seconds to think BEFORE reacting.



​Breath!  Breath deeply into your diaphragm. When the stress chemicals kick off they make us breath into the top part of our lungs (shallow).  Conversely, when we breath into the bottom of our lungs (deeply), it creates the opposite reaction of relaxation and calm.  It actually begins to dissipate the stress chemicals.

Deep breathing is an incredibly powerful stress buster. It will help if you practise breathing during times when it is not needed so that you can do it more easily when it’s really needed.



Most of our automatic reactions are caused by suppression of emotions or, to put it another way, avoiding feelings that are uncomfortable.  While you are breathing calmly allow yourself to get out of your head and fully experience the feelings within your body.

Get into the habit of correctly identifying your feelings.  Is it disappointment? Worry? Jealousy?  Are you frightened?  Like myself, don’t kid yourself you are angry.  Under the anger will be sadness, guilt, helplessness, or disappointment.


​React in a controlled way

​Once you have calmed yourself by breathing, identified your true feelings honestly and allowed them to flow through you and away, you are now free to react in a calm, measured and easy manner which will get you the best result from whatever or whoever you have to deal with.

Sounds so easy doesn’t it?  But if it’s so easy, why aren’t we all doing it?

Because it takes a great deal of effort and persistent practise to be able to do this kind of stress busting.  We have to make a decision that we will not be ruled by our inability to deal with our difficult emotions.

It is so important to make friends with ALL parts of ourselves.  I believe this is a life-long journey of growth and discovery.  I also believe that if we come at it from a stress busting perspective, we can heal so much more and we can do it so much faster.

Much of our stress is created unnecessarily.   If we can just focus on getting our stress levels down, everything else falls into place all by itself.  I suggest the reason so many people struggle to do this is that when we get really calm we force those suppressed emotions up.

In short, we start to feel really uncomfortable.  This makes us think that it’s better to be stressed than calm.  

All the while we are stressed we don’t have to feel those tough emotions.

​All the while we are stressed we don’t have to feel those tough emotions.

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The paradox is that these difficult emotions have to be felt to fulfill their purpose, and all the time we resist them, they just keep pushing harder to be felt.  This causes us to run back towards the stress again to escape them.

Anxiety truly is a different kind of stress.  But the life of our dreams.  Of joy, excitement, peace and love is to be found on the other side of allowing ourselves to feel our anxieties – whatever they are – flow through us. And accepting them as the authentic part of us that they are.

At the end of the day, stress is always a choice we make.  Or more usually, a choice we fail to make.

© 2019 John Freeman

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with life and would like to look at their struggles from a stress busting perspective, I offer a FREE Stress Audit call to anyone who needs it.