Clients frequently ask for help in coping with stress. Most people can identify the source of their tension (e.g. parenting, relationships, the economy, money, job, health, COVID, etc.), but often CANNOT figure out how to stop the worry. They ruminate, which means their mind gets stuck on that specific fear without every coming up with a solution. This article will give you a tool that you CAN use to help you handle anything 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 stress damages your life will motivate you to take action.
Stress & Anxiety Can …….
- Decrease your ability to solve problems
- Make decision-making 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 creativity
- 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 their energy on 90% of the time. Circle all items on the right side of the page underneath the word CAN. Focus 80% of your energy here, and the anxiety you feel will decrease.
Step 4: You listed 3 action items. Schedule time to complete each action. In fact, choose to engage one of these tasks 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 much clearer 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). Make this tool a new habit.
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Question: What’s something causing stress in your life? How can this tool help?
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