Self-Esteem and Stress: How to Break Free of Stress and Feel Better About Yourself
Life is full of cycles: the progression of seasons, day changing to night and interval cycles in a piece of music. Stress also has a cycle which affects our behavior, self-esteem and ultimately, our experience and perception of life. When you’re caught in the stress cycle, something triggers your stress and you engage in reactive behavior which leads to negative thinking and low self-esteem.
Take a moment and think about this. Recall a time in your life when you were feeling overwhelmed with stress. Notice the decisions you made. What was your behavior like? How did your stress affect your relationships? And how did you feel about yourself? Thinking back, how do you feel now about how you behaved? If you are like most of us, the answers to these questions are not positive or flattering. We may even cringe and be uncomfortable remembering these times. However, know this is not you on a good day. There is not something wrong with you and you are not deficient in some way. It is because you were stressed!
The key to ending the stress cycle is first knowing when you are beginning to feel stressed and then intervening by applying simple stress management methods to decrease stress. Awareness and intervention will allow you to get off the stress merry-go-round and move through life feeling good about yourself.
Stress and self-esteem is a two-fold issue. Stress depletes our energy. We see the glass as half empty and exhaustion clouds our vision and view of the world. A lack of energy is physically draining and restricts us from seeing our better self. As the cycle continues, behavior becomes reactive instead of intentional. We do or say things we do not feel good about. Remember those times you snapped at a friend or impulsively indulged in a bag of salty chips or sugary candy? These behaviors bring momentary relief, but the pleasure recedes as quickly as it came, leaving you feeling worse than before.
On a physiological level, stress signals the body to produce cortisol and epinephrine, also known as the “stress hormones.” These hormones give your body energy for the “fight or flight” response. But when you are stressed, there is no danger present to run away from or fight. Stress causes these hormones to flood the system and you don’t think clearly, resulting in behaviors and limiting beliefs which lower self-esteem. Stress can also impede the release and activity of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. Its regulation is imperative in warding off depression. When one is feeling depressed, the world, including how we feel about ourselves, often looks quite grim.
Getting stuck in the stress cycle is like driving with the brakes on. You try to move forward but stress, reactive behavior and negative beliefs constantly undermine your better self. Fortunately, incorporating stress management techniques into your life will help you identify, remove and replace hurtful thoughts and behaviors.
You must first recognize you have too much stress in your life, whether it’s due to an emotional injury, lifestyle choices, lack of sleep, negative self-talk or other restrictive thoughts. Then apply a stress intervention method. This can be as simple as thinking of what makes you feel good, such as gardening, dancing or listening to music. Right now, take a deep breath and make a list of your favorite positive activities. These simple actions will de-stress your body. Apply as needed anytime as stress intervention to raise your energy and self-esteem.
However, if you are struggling with chronic stress it may be time to consult a professional to help you get to the core of your stress and learn more effective methods to release stress and increase your well-being.
When you are relaxed, your energy increases and the world looks brighter. You feel joyous, unrestricted, sexy and confident. If stress is keeping you from knowing and being your best self, I’d be happy to chat with you.
Contact me for a free consultation to clarify how stress shows up in your life and what you can do about it.
Wishing you peace & happiness!