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  • Writer's pictureLuna

Stressed out? What to do? Action Steps!

Stress and anxiety are an emotional and physical response to demanding situations, with symptoms that may include constant worry, feeling overwhelmed, increased heart rate, inability to focus, headaches, trouble sleeping and much more.


So, what’s going on?


It’s usually not too difficult to identify the source your stress or anxiety but it does require some focused attention and thoughtful reflection, so let’s do this exercise together step by step but first:

Describe your largest source of stress right now. List all the ways you feel you experience stress physically, emotionally, and behaviorally, which ones affect you the most?


What can you do?


You can manage the negative effects of anxiety and stress through a number of strategies, including emotional management skills, maintaining a healthy life balance, the use of social support and last but not least, tending to basic needs.


Action Plan


1. Emotional management:

Stress can trigger many emotions such as anxiety, self-doubt, anger. When these feelings are ignored, they can exacerbate the original stressor. Emotional management is not about eliminating emotions; it's about dealing with them in a healthy, productive way.

Actions:

  • When faced with unpleasant emotions, do you have any habits or tendencies that worsen the situation? 

  • List two ways in which you successfully handled unpleasant emotions in the past. 

  • Write down how you can apply these two strategies to the unpleasant emotions you are dealing with now. 

Example: when I felt angry at my close friend for what I thought was him lying to me and plotting against me behind my back, instead of closing off, responding to his texts in an angry manner or shuttling him out, I...

1. Took a breath and a moment to write down what I was thinking and feeling so that I could see clearly what I was actually so upset about.

2. reached out to him and ,in a kind and compassionate way, told him about how I felt.

I am experiencing the feelings of resentment and rejection right now, so I am going to take a few moments to reflect on the root-cause of those feelings before lashing out, I am going to try to understand the other’s point of view and then communicate with them about what I am feeling in a kind, compassionate way.


2. Social Support:

Even when your social support cannot solve the problem, just talking to someone can be very helpful. When we talk about our problems, hormones are released inside our brains that make the undesirable effects of stress easier to manage. 

Actions

  • List three people you can turn to for support.

  • How can you use social support to reduce one of the current stressors? 

Example: in the situation with my dear friend (above) I would list my partner, my mum and my therapist as my support. I would then talk to my therapist about my feelings of rejection that I am experiencing as a result of this incident and learn how to best respond in this situation.


3. Basic needs:

During periods of high stress, many people take shortcuts when it comes to tending to their basic needs. Examples include getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and other forms of self-care. When basic needs are neglected, health and mental well-being deteriorate, which contributes to additional stress.

Actions:

  • Circle any basic needs that you tend to neglect during periods of high stress:

    1. Sleep

    2. Healthy diet

    3. Exercise

    4. Medical Adherence (appointments, medications, etc.)

    5. Personal Hygiene 

    6. Social/Love Needs

    7. Addiction Management

  • Now, describe the steps you can take to protect your basic needs during periods of high stress. 

Example:

I tend to ignore my basic need of getting enough good quality sleep, so I am going to prioritize shutting down my computer and mobile devices at least an hour before bedtime and read my book. I am going to make sure I stick to regular bedtime hour of 11pm by setting a reminder on my phone for 10pm to put all my devices away and start getting ready. I will make sure my bedroom is aired and dark so that I can fall and stay sound asleep.


Ok now, set a small goal with a timeline, and create a reminder for yourself, for how you plan to deal with anxiety and high stress in a healthy way every single day by addressing one of the above areas. For example: 

  • Today at 10am, I will look after my social needs by reaching out to my friend on FaceTime, and physical and social needs by doing an online yoga class at with my friends @1pm.

  • Today at 5pm, I will look after my physical and emotional regulation needs by going for a walk, practicing minfully breathing and/or walking and decluttering my brain by staying present during the walk.

  • Today at 10 pm, I will look after my basic needs by switching off my computer, airing my room and preparing for a sound, relaxed sleep, meditating before bed.

Stress and anxiety are a natural part of life with sources often outside of our control. However, what is in our control is the way we respond to and manage our reaction to these sources, and how we look after our own well-being. A small step each day can lead to big positive change in your life!


Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what‘s possible;  and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

- Saint Francis of Assisi


 

References: therapistaid.com2017



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