Stress is a global issue. Almost every single person on the planet experiences it on a regular basis in some form. Though a little stress is normal, and can even be healthy, excessive stress can be harmful. In the U.S. alone, 44% of Americans admitted that their stress levels had increased from 2010, year to year through the decade.
An increase in stress can manifest itself in a variety of physical and mental symptoms. This is especially true when you’re dealing with body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). BFRBs are often a sign of stress and can become worse as the sources of stress continue to increase without any resolution. They can manifest in multiple ways that you might recognise – hair pulling, skin picking, nail biting and so on, which harm your body.
One of the best ways to manage BFRB habits is to get to the core of what’s causing your stress and to understand your triggers. Once you do, you can work on removing that stress from your life and finding other ways to manage your habits. Awareness is often the first step toward changing your behaviors. With that in mind, let’s talk more about the effects of stress.
The Risks of Stress: BFRB and Beyond
Stress in your life can sneak up on you. Maybe you’re worried about money, your relationship, your career, or your health. Those are all common causes. No matter the cause, though, it’s important to understand the risks associated with stress when you don’t take steps to manage it. As stated above, it can manifest itself in many different ways, including:
- Anxious thoughts/feelings
- Appetite changes
- Muscular tension
- Upset stomach
Stress can also raise your blood pressure and have a negative impact on your vein health by weakening your circulation.
If you deal with BFRB habits, you might find that they become worse the more stressed you are. So, on top of these other physical and mental issues, your behaviors can change and feel almost uncontrollable. Depending on your BFRB mindset, you might try to ignore these “flare-ups” or even hide them, but getting to the root of the issue is the best way to manage the behaviors.
Understanding Your Triggers
Again, there are many factors that can contribute to stress. Blanket issues like money and relationships can impact everyone differently. Usually, the things that cause the most stress in life are quite personal. Because of that, it’s important to get to the root of the problem and figure out what’s really stressing you out.
One way to do that is with a behavior assessment. Behavioral assessments are typically done with a professional, and if you’re worried you can’t get to the root of the issue on your own, seeking out some kind of treatment with a therapist or counsellor is a great option. But, you can also try to determine the cause of your stress on your own by paying attention to your triggers.
When do your BFRB habits become worse? Are there specific situations in which you find yourself biting your nails, pulling at your hair, etc. more than others? Maybe it’s something that happens daily. Maybe it’s a certain person in your life causing these behaviors. It’s not always easy to notice when we’re doing something that has become so “normal,” but the more you can pay attention to your behaviors, the more you can understand what triggers them.
How to Reduce Stress and Control Behaviors
Once you have a better understanding of your triggers, the first step is to limit them as much as possible from your life or eliminate them completely. Adopting a growth mindset for your BFRB lets you utilize the power of “yet.” Maybe you can’t stop your picking, but by adding the word “yet” to that idea, you’re giving yourself hope and changing your mindset. A positive attitude and determination can go a long way in managing your behaviors.
When you recognize the root of your stress and you know when your BFRB habits might be triggered, you can take control by replacing stressor behaviors with positive behaviors. Instead of pulling at your hair, take a few deep breaths. Instead of picking at your skin, get some exercise. When you better understand what causes your stress, you can take more control over your habits and behavior, which gives you more power over your BFRB.
Finally, it’s important to reduce your overall stress as much as possible. While you’ll never be able to completely wipe stress from your life, there are things you can do to manage it, including:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Going to bed early
- Spending time with the people you love
- Implement minimalism where you can in your life
- Practicing mindfulness
Find what works for you when it comes to reducing stress. Even spending just a few minutes a day managing your thoughts and focusing on your triggers can put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to controlling the stress that tries to influence your life. The more you’re able to manage that stress and specific triggers, the easier it will be to break BFRB habits.
Does your stress manifest in unhealthy behaviours? Do you feel overwhelmed and anxious? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.
Adrian is a writer and adventurer living in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. Read her work here.