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  • Writer's pictureMalin Rignéus

Is it possible to manage stress in three simple steps?

Wouldn't life be so much easier to navigate if we could solve all our issues in three simple steps. However, unfortunately life issues tend to be complex and require a lot of work to get through. Problems are often originating from deep seated beliefs we have about ourselves, others and the world around us, that could have formed years ago. These thoughts might not be a complete accurate representation of reality, but could be maintained through unconscious habits formed to keep the beliefs going.

You might find it helpful to use this guide as a starting point, in order to break out of unproductive patterns that cause you issues in your daily life and prevent burnout. This blog isn’t posing as a complete solution to managing all issues you’re faced with. Hopefully it will serve as a self-help tool to get you started with identifying the causes and implementing some strategies for short term stress relief.

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First of all, it might sound obvious but many of us skip to really focus on what the underlying cause/s might be to the problems we face.

Identify the issue

Is the root to the problem your....

  • financial situation

  • heavy workload

  • illness

  • life changes (positive/negative)

  • low self esteem

  • negative thinking

  • limited support

  • unattainable standards

  • procrastination

  • not feeling respected

When you narrow down alternatives to locate the underlying cause, try to keep yourself staying objective and specific to the issue at hand and avoid emotions like blaming others or yourself. Can you detect any recurring issues? Also, remind yourself that not all stress we face consist of negative events, positive situations like planning a wedding, dealing with a relocation, managing a promotion, starting out as a new parent, getting together with a new romantic partner, etc; can also be major sources of stress and make you feel overwhelmed.

Secondly, turn your attention to finding solutions to the obstacles you are facing.

Problem solve

  • Try to identify what is maintaining the issue rather than what's caused it.

  • Use techniques such as brainstorming, and defining pros/cons of various options.

  • Analyse all your options available

  • Choose your preferred solutions

  • Evaluate (pros/cons) your top suggestions

Throughout this stage, try to stay open minded and avoid shutting down suggestions too early in the process. You might find it helpful to ask others for input on how they would approach a similar situation. Writing suggestions down makes it easier to view them in a more objective manner. Once you’ve listed the pros and cons, you can add how each option would be weighted related to your own values, e.g. a job where you work long hours might provide a high salary, but if it comes on the expense of less quality family time and this is something you value higher than money, then you might need to take that into account when making your final decision.

Finally, identify a way forward and make it happen.

Take action

  • Create a realistic and achievable solution

  • Specify actions and decide who will take them

  • Identify how and when the plan will be implemented

  • Evaluate your solution

  • Decide if you need to change the plan or come up with new options.

It’s easy to get carried away and set too high expectations on yourself to make things happen. Try to break the plan down into small achievable and more realistic steps to avoid throwing in the towel when things get overwhelming. Also consider asking for assistance from others.

People are often happy to assist and showing vulnerability is likely to make you come across as more relatable.

Motivate yourself to work through the plan via providing small rewards, e.g. mini breaks, tea/coffee, etc. Remind yourself that making changes to habits and beliefs take time and might not progress in a linear fashion. Some days will be harder than others, and a setback doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start from scratch again.

Hopefully, this framework will assist you in finding out what might be the underlying reason/s to your everyday struggles and help create a realistic and achievable way forward to navigate these challenges in a manageable way. If you find it too overwhelming to identify issues or work out strategies on your own, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or another mental health professional for assistance.

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