Cutting Off Anxiety at the Roots


This book I’ve been reading, Daring Greatly, talks about two different kinds of stress responses: in one case, people try to manage their circumstances such that all the stress is organized, prioritized, and handled. The other group of people try to seek root causes and remove the problems that cause the stress. The example Brené Brown gives is people who save time at the end of every night and beginning of every day to handle all their unread emails, versus people who make it clear that they may take a while to read emails and delete all unnecessary ones without responses.

I must admit that in everything from cooking to home care to work to gardening, my habit is to try to minimize impact, not eliminate stress from the roots. Something I’ve always felt under my actions was a belief that I should be able to deal with all the things that get thrown at me, and changing the rules of the game (i.e. asking people to email less!) would mean some kind of failure. But I’ve seen how less-stressed people are, and how their lives look more like a celebration than like a failure.

It makes me think that some of the things I need to do in the coming year should have to do with root causes: rather than constantly making time to scramble and cook in the evening, finding a way to enjoy the nights of take-out and also budget weekend time for meal prep. I want to plan our garden ahead of time but also modulate my expectations – we are lucky and our garden is for fun, not for sustenance, so there’s no reason to let it cause me stress. Even little things, like the ways Husband talks about keeping the house neater and more tidy, I need to put in perspective: even he tells me how when he talks about changing our house care, he’s talking about himself doing more, not about me doing more. It’s a good thing to be reminded that some stress is caused by our unrealistic expectations of ourselves, not by externally imposed strain. Now, to remember this next time something doesn’t go my way… It’s always a process!

12 comments on “Cutting Off Anxiety at the Roots

  1. cntry17566 says:

    Love this! Needed this! Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stress can become our disciplinarian. If things are stressful, we try to change either what is causing our stress or the way we react to that stressor. One way we have made our week not so crazy – we both work and our son is in high school with all of the activities that implies – is to cook large meals on weekends and eat the leftovers during the week. Everyone heats a plate of what he or she wants, when he or she wants and a lot of times we end up sitting down together and talking. It works out very, very well. For variety, we have tortillas on hand and other things to make the meal different.
    When the other two boys were living at home we did more sit downs at the table, but everyone helped in some way with the meal. By doing this, the boys learned the basics of cooking and no one was left with the entire job. Bravo to your hubby for wondering how he can help out more rather than putting it all on you. Things are so much nicer when everyone in the house helps out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. maryleopard says:

    Love this! I hope to read more about how it works for you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jon says:

    Interesting analogy about stress/anxiety with roots! Great post

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Anne J. says:

    I have also recently acknowledged what I have always done and realized that there is an urgent need to change, that for the stuff that matter, I must find the root cause and fix it. Happy to read this. It’s encouraging to know I’m not crazy to take the road less traveled. 🙂 Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Really great post!! I will be keeping this in mind the next time I get stressed over the to-do list in my head!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. fiverdouw says:

    I’d never come across this explanation of the different ways people deal with stress before. Unfortunately, I deal with things the former, rather than the latter way. Sometimes though, this works in my favour… I deal a lot with deadlines, and find that while I always meet them, the only way I really get through the work effectively and efficiently is to wait till things get up to the “Urgent” level and then I crack into them with a vengeance. Without pressure, I tend to get lazy it seems. Perhaps (for the sake of my sanity) I need to retrain myself to view and deal with things differently…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You sound a lot like me. I try to do it all and I try to do it all well and I fail at it constantly. But, I like the way you talk about dealing with it at the root cause. Like I really struggle with housekeeping and cooking while I am working a lot. But, it would be a lot less stressful if I delcuttered masses of stuff and had a meal plan. Why don’t I just do it?!? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I am remembering my first year of marriage and all the adjustments about who had what expectations. It turns out the expectations I thought my husband had weren’t really his at all but just my idealized notion of the kind of home life we should have.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m adding that book to my reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] read a post earlier today over at Recipe in a Bottle that has inspired me to come back to this blog.  I keep starting things and not following through […]

    Liked by 2 people

  12. tcriggs says:

    I have always viewed anxiety (or any emotion) as potential energy. So, I don’t know if I fall into any of the classes in the book. lol. I will add it to my read list. (thanks!)

    For me, when that feeling in my gut comes along… I move, I plan, I get something done. Once you do that enough times – the joy comes from seeing a job well done. If you find that things are too upsetting, or you just can’t keep up… then yes… the roots analogy is perfect, because it helps you prioritize.

    nice post! 🙂


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