Tag Archives: anxiety

Do you Over-Function or Under-Function?

We’re in the festive season and lo and behold, stress has been coming up a lot with clients recently so I thought I’d try tackle it this week! The most common form of stress that I’m seeing for our generation is a mix of anxiety and feeling flat or sad. Now, we all have stress in our lives- and we know that some days can be worse than others depending on what we have on our plate at any given moment!

Stress in itself is not a problem- some people thrive on having an impending deadline (or at least tell themselves that they do!) But stress can become a problem when we feel we can’t control it when the pressure on us outweighs our ability to cope. When we feel under pressure or that we can’t cope, we tend to default to our patterned ways of responding -we either over function or we under function. I’m a complete under-functioner!

The first time I came across this concept was in a book called ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Dr Brene Brown. This idea of how we handle stress blew me away because I had definitely experienced it but never really understood it before. The theory is that we all have patterned ways of responding to stress/anxiety.  We either respond by over functioning or under functioning.  Neither is good or bad, right or wrong- it just is what it is.

Over-functioners respond to stress by wanting to take charge of the situation. They become controlling, feel that they have to rescue others, they take over, micromanage, and tend to believe they know what is best for others rather than looking at themselves first. Their thought pattern goes something like this ‘It’s up to me. I’m the only one who can do x,y,z. It needs to be done this way’………etc etc!

They can see other people as either unwilling or unable to ‘shape up’ to their standard. Rather than feel vulnerable they go into action mode. They often can get labelled as bossy, controlling and a know it all and they absolutely hate being thought of that way!

Under-functioners like myself, respond to stress by wanting to avoid the situation. They get caught up in their feelings, feel too vulnerable and start showing up less. They tend to get less competent under stress, they detach, procrastinate and retreat from the world. Their thought pattern goes something like this ‘I’m not good enough. I don’t know. I can’t’………etc etc!

They can see other people as overbearing and demanding. They can often get labelled as lazy and unreliable and they hate the idea of people thinking that of them.

The key thing is to remember that these are patterned responses to stress and anxiety, rather than truths about who we are.  THIS DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. Understanding this point helps us to understand that we can ALL learn to take control of how we tend to handle stress.

So, how about you. Do you tend to over function or under function when you are under stress?

Here’s what to do:

We all need people in our lives that we trust and who will be brutally honest with us!  We need to ask for their help- rather than tell you that you’re being controlling or unreliable which would make you feel ashamed of yourself and even more stressed- these trusted people need to focus on your behaviour.

It is easier for Over-functioners to ‘do’ than to ‘feel’ so if this is your default response to stress then you need to work on being more willing to embrace your vulnerabilities in the face of stress. Imagine, something incredibly stressful is happening in your world right now and you go into to default mode of operating, organising, delegating and taking charge. Someone you trust comes up to you, looks you in the eye and says ‘You’re over-functioning. You’re not on your own.’ This allows you to take a step back, breathe and realise that you’re not on your own and you have support.

It is easier for Under-functioners to ‘avoid’ than to ‘feel’ so they need to work on building their self regard and strengths. So imagine something incredibly stressful is happening in your world right now and you go into your default mode of operating- you start to step back, retreat and feel that you have nothing to offer. You need someone to come to you, look you in the eye and say You’re under-functioning. You have what it takes. Your opinion matters and you need to step up and be involved’. This allows you to breathe and acknowledge what can be done. You can break things down into smaller pieces and tackle things in pieces.

Other things you can do to help during stressful times include:

  • Get more exercise- go for a walk, a swim, yoga- anything! Get your body moving and if possible, exercise outdoors.
  • Cut back on caffeine!
  • Practice calm and stillness- for you this could be meditation or mindfulness. For me, this is purposefully going for a walk on the beach with the intention of calming my mind
  • Get it off your chest- express your emotions either by talking to someone, writing in a diary- whatever works for you! If I’m really stressed or upset, I’ll actually watch a sad movie that I know will have me in tears at the end! It’s a way to release the built up tension or emotion! (Especially for over-functioners)
  • Bank your successes! By this I mean, make a note of all the times that you stepped up and did great despite your anxiety! Try journalling regularly and making a note each day of 3 things you did that day that demonstrated self confidence or self regard! (Especially for under-functioners)

I hope this issue of Progress has been helpful to you and that this concept has resonated with you as much as it did me when I first read about it. I think it’s really powerful and I challenge each of you to take some time to think about what your default response to stress is! Then, go and find people who are willing and able to speak the truth to you when you need them to.

Until next week!

Take care,

P x

4 Ways to Control Your Anxiety

I don’t know about you but stress and anxiety were constant companions of mine in my 20s! And, I’ll admit it that if I’m not looking after myself properly, they can still regularly come around to visit! They popped around last week for a little visit as I was feeling under the weather and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the mammoth list of tasks to complete in the next few weeks. You know those thoughts you have when you can actually feel your heartbeat quicken, you feel more alert but drained at the same time, that clawing feeling in your chest and the tightness in your jaw! Well that’s when I know that anxiety and stress have popped in to say hi!

At this time of year, although it’s great fun, the holidays do take your inner angst up a notch (or five). Let’s see, you’ve got: Christmas parties, family problems that escalate, cooking, sitting in traffic, shopping for gifts, spending more money than you have, getting your cards in the post in time (and often not getting them in at all!), the vision of the Christmas that you want and then the reality of the panic attack that feel imminent … YIKES!

December can be stressful even for a person with the brightest outlook. The festivities tend to shine a light on our lives and if you already feel anxious (or if your life is a million miles away from what you’re seeing in all those Christmas movies), then the festive season can be even tougher. How can you find some calmness, enjoyment and keep your anxiety in check? Try my favourite 4 steps for a less anxious you. (You can use these tips all year round!)

  1. It’s more than ok to look after you

After 4 years of coaching hundreds of women, I still feel an ache in my heart every time I hear a client say ‘I feel selfish’ when she’s talking about wanting to set boundaries with people, when she is wanting to say no to demands on her time and when she wants to do what she wants to do but doesn’t because of putting other people ahead of herself. You know you are no good to anyone else if you’re running on empty. Take care of you and make sure you invest in your own wellness. When is the last time you did something that you enjoy for you? Get it in your diary today!

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

When you compare your life to others, you are giving up your power. Everyone is on a different path. People have wins or hardships at different points in their lives. People have difficulties they don’t share. You might think others have it better, but you don’t have the full story. It can be easy to compare your life to others with social media showcasing what everyone is doing at every minute of the day (and usually people post about the good things!), but I have an easy trick to take your power back.

Next time you begin to compare yourself to someone else, stop and compare yourself to a past version of you! Only compete with yourself to be a better you or have an improved life. How can you be a better you? Ask yourself: What’s a better thought you can choose? What’s a positive thing you can tell yourself? What are you doing right? How can you do more of that? Comparing yourself is passive and gets you nowhere. Focusing on you is active and can get you where you want to be.

  1. Get it onto paper!

Keeping a journal is something I have always done- or at least something I’ve always done when I was looking after myself! Some people view journals as too touchy feely, or they have no idea where to start or what to write. The fact is however that studies have shown that putting pen to paper and releasing your thoughts is can be extremely cleansing to your soul! So, get yourself a gorgeous new journal and just start by writing out your thoughts. Over time you may find that journaling can help you process how you feel, what you think and even raise your awareness within your life! If nothing else, it gets the worry and panicky thoughts out of your head so you can have a better night sleep!

  1. Have an attitude of gratitude.

Yes it sounds cheesy, yes it sounds corny, yes it sounds American but yes, it works! Gratitude is anxietya word that pops up a lot around this time of year but it truly is the key to a happier and less anxious version of you! When you focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have and take time to relish in all the good things in your life, you can’t help but feel good. When you practice gratitude, you start training your brain to scan for all the wonderful things about your life and doing so improves your mood little by little.

Try these steps, get proper sleep and nutrition and you’ll find that actively working to reduce your anxiety will do wonders for making you feel better! Be proactive and look after you rather than reacting and letting yourself get worked up! You love this time of year and you owe it to yourself to make it as wonderful as you can – for you!

I’d love to hear some of your tips to reduce your anxiety levels! Pop over to the facebook page and let me know!

Until next week,

Be You, be Calm and Enjoy!

P x