Clients frequently ask for help in coping with stress. Most can identify the source of the tension (e.g. health, job, money, relationship, etc.), but they CANNOT figure out how to cope with the strain. They ruminate, which basically means that their minds get stuck on the issue. This article is to show you something you CAN do about whatever is bothering you.
Stress comes from focusing our energy on things we cannot change. Stop it! It’s an act of insanity. You’re wasting energy. It’s futile!
Before I share the tool, let’s look at the negative impact of stress. Recognizing how detrimental it’s been can motivate you to take action.
Stress & Anxiety Can …….
- decrease your ability to solve problems
- make decision-making very difficult
- trigger mental health issues like depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD
- lead to destructive coping mechanisms (e.g. alcoholism, gambling, over-eating, etc.)
- lead to serious health problems (e.g. asthma, heart disease, diabetes)
- decrease your creative abilities
- leave your immune system less effective in fighting off illness
12 step meetings like Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous frequently refer to this concept. Grandmas have lectured grandkids about this for centuries.
Write the name of the stressor at the top of a sheet of paper (e.g. money, parenting, traffic, etc.). Draw a line down the middle of the page dividing it in half. On the top left side of the page, write and underline the word CANNOT. On the top right side, write and underline the word CAN.
On the left side, underneath the word CANNOT, list 3 things that are out of your control about your issue. Underneath the word CAN, list 3 things that you have some influence over regarding your stressor. It takes courage to identify the things you can change. If struggling, ask a friend for their perspective.
Draw an X through the items under CANNOT. These are what stressed out people focus on 90% of the time. Circle all items on the right side of the page underneath the word CAN. Focus here and your strain will always decrease.
Step 4: You listed 3 action items. Schedule time to focus here each week. Engage one of these it items by the end of the day today. Pull out this worksheet whenever the stressor starts to negatively impact your life and it will help you start thinking right again.
Click here to get a fillable pfd worksheet on this topic. Feel free to give it to friends and/or use with your own clients
“God grant me the serenity. To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Neibuhr
Writing your thoughts down is powerful. Things that are fuzzy in your head become clear on paper. You start seeing things clearly. You start to see that all you have control over is yourself (i.e. your actions & your perspective). Tension loses it’s power as you gain insight into your power. Make this tool a new habit.
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Question: What’s something causing stress in your life? How can this tool help?