whyHave you ever heard the phrase, “know your craft?” It’s a phrase that many artists, whether they are singers, actors, photographers, or dancers, use when expressing how important it is to learn everything about that particular profession. The “craft” is that particular profession and you grow by learning everything you can about it. Knowing your craft not only allows you to become better at it, but it reminds you of why you’re really doing it. Believe it or not, the same can be applied to stress.

When we get overwhelmed, stressed out and out of sorts our thoughts tend to get blown way out of proportion. Whatever thing we kind of obsess about; whether it’s a clean house, school grades, relationships, or being perfect at everything, tends to get multiplied by 100 when we’re stressed. When we aren’t stressed the thought might be, “I just like for things to be neat.” Stress turns that thought into “THE HO– USE IS NEVER CLEAN. I can’t think when the house isn’t clean. I hate it when the house isn’t clean. I MUST clean the house NOW!” When we aren’t stressed, the thought might be “I need to study because I really want a good grade on my anatomy test.” Stress turns that thought into, “I’M GOING TO FAIL THIS TEST. I’m no good at anatomy. I’m going to fail out of college. I don’t think I can do this.”

When I have thoughts that don’t make any sense, I have learned to slow down and figure out my WHY. I ask myself a series of questions to determine why I am really feeling this way. Do I have too much on my plate? Have I had too much down time? Am I maintaining a good life/work balance? Did I get an adequate amount of exercise this week? What have I been eating? Have I been working too much, but not laughing enough? Once I determine the answers to these questions, I am able to figure out why I’m really thinking the way I am. I conclude that it’s really not about me feeling like a failure for NEVER (we tend to use words like never and always when we are stressed) cleaning the house. It’s about things that I actually can do something about.

The brain will try to trick you into believing that there’s nothing you can do about your stress. Figuring out your why will tell the brain something different and empower you. Once you determine the answer to your “why” questions, you can start taking steps to decrease your stress and beat those negative thought monkeys down. You have more power than you think you do. Don’t let your brain try to convince you otherwise. Whenever you experience high levels of stress, take time to figure out your WHY.

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Kela Price is the founder of Let's Get Mentally Fit and a wife and mother of 2. She is also a former marketing executive who became fascinated with psychology after battling postpartum depression. Currently, she is a graduate student pursuing a master's of science in psychology.