My friend recently texted me this picture and I literally laughed out loud. People at work would have looked at me strangely, except they are used to me being doing weird things. It was fitting in her life at the time as she was coming up on final class papers and assignments…always stressful! But it is also perfect for me right now. I’m under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress at work right now—and it is only going to get worse for the next three weeks. Just like that wave, I can see it coming. So the question then becomes—how do you prepare!?
Here is a great tool that I learned in therapy—a list of questions to ask and answer BEFORE the stressful event occurs (with a few random self-affirmations thrown in there). Then post the questions and your answers in a place you can see them as the event is taking place. If your mind is overwhelmed and freaking out, like mine is right now, it’s probably a good idea to have someone you trust work through this with you.
Self-Statements for Coping With Stress:
- What is it that I have to do?
- I can develop a plan to deal with this. (Form a plan or mental outline)
- Just think about what I have to do, not anything else. (Focus on the needs of the task at hand)
- Think of things that I can use to help cope. (Review the strategies that you know can be of help)
- The situation is not impossible—I can handle this.
- What’s the worst possible outcome? Can I live with that?
- Remember: I can shift my attention and control my reactions.
I’ve found this to be very helpful. It breaks the situation down into parts, and gives your mind a grounding point when it starts to stray. So instead of waiting for that wave to crash over you, think of this tool as your surfboard to ride it!