Confusing anxiety with stress is not uncommon. When you are stressed something is actually causing the tension in you. When you feeling anxious, it is because you are mostly anticipating a negative circumstance.
Let me give you an example of a stressful situation from my daily routine: morning traffic madness. Traffic where I live near Atlanta gets worse every year. I often get overly concerned about being late and when my son tries to talk to me in the morning it is very hard for me to listen attentively to what he has to say because I’m already worrying about the traffic. It is in that moment that I become anxious. While I want to listen to my son, I have too much going on in my head.
We all have moments like this in the morning, don’t we? I’ve learned to rewire my brain by waking up early. I set my alarm to 5:30 a.m. and I take my time to do breathing exercises, tapping (emotional freedom technique), or a good morning stretch followed by a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
I’ve noticed that when I’m calm I can be the teacher that my son needs. I can talk instead of raising my voice, and guide my son instead of giving him orders. If I’m calm, it’s harder for me to fall into the “dictator mode” around the house. Also, those few extra minutes in the morning give me time to free my mind. Aside from getting dressed or making breakast, I can take a few minutes to breathe and enjoy my coffee in silence.
By the time I wake up my son, I’m not in a reactive mode but in a calm mode. While it’s not always easy to ignore the worries ahead, carving some ‘’me” time in the morning makes a huge difference. This morning I was even able to play a hand of cards before getting in the car him, and we made it to summer camp on time.