3 Steps to Reduce Fear, Anxiety and Stress
These are scary times. I like the rest of the world have been glued to the news of what’s happening in Ukraine. It's heartbreaking for the people of Ukraine, and terrifying to think of what the implications of Russia's invasion could mean for the rest of the world. It is easy to let it consume us and be overcome with fear and anxiety, while feeling helpless to do anything about it.
This is when I use my tools to protect my mental health while staying informed of what’s happening in the world.
This is my motto for anything that feels stressful, brings fear or triggers anxiety: “I control what’s within my power and I let the rest go.”
The following is a lesson I share in my upcoming book All the Things I Wish I Knew, it gives my 3 steps to HOW we do this.
Excerpt from my book:
"One very important lesson I have learned over the years is that stress and anxiety mount when you focus on the things you cannot control. So, when things happen, when life throws you a curve ball, or when you’re in a situation that triggers anxiety or stress, I always ask myself this question: What do I control?
I believe we have much more control over our lives, thoughts, outcomes, and situations then we can begin to comprehend. No matter what life throws your way, or how out of control things may feel, we always have a choice. We can focus on what’s going wrong (the negative), which is everything we do not control, thereby making it worse. Or we can decide to focus on the possibility that things could somehow turnaround and end up in our favor (the positive). The latter is always within our control. So, no matter what, you’ll always have at least one thing you can control.
But often in any situation, there are several components within our control, our job is to quickly assess and identify what they are. Because the longer we focus on things outside our control, the bigger and more unsurmountable they appear and the more problematic they become, so it’s imperative to quickly stop the bleeding.
We gain control using these 3 easy steps:
1. Identify problem.
What’s causing you stress and bringing on anxious thoughts? What are you dealing with? What feels out of control? This step is basically assessing the situation, getting a read on what’s happening and how it’s making us feel. Make a list.
2. Ask yourself: What can I control?
This is why we identified the problem first, so we could see the pieces which are outside our control, helping us separate the two. Now we can start thinking of elements we DO control.
Brainstorm here, quickly make note of everything that comes to mind, get a pen and write a list. Think of EVERYTHING. We know that we always control where our focus goes, so that’s one. Write down the best possible outcome to your situation, if everything went unexpectedly perfect, what would happen? Now you’ve identified an outcome you want, and something positive to focus on and put into the Universe.
What else do you control? What pieces could you start working to “fix”? Here’s where you engage everything you’ve ever learned about problem solving, because that’s exactly what you’re doing. You are looking for unseen solutions, ways you can influence an outcome in your favor.
3. Start executing your action items.
The faster you begin working on the pieces you’ve identified as being in your control, the quicker momentum can shift suddenly in your favor. Your focus is soon absorbed with taking the actions you control, and without even realizing it, the magical element of this sequence kicks in… you begin to let go of everything outside your control. When this happens, stress and anxiety fade and are replaced with thoughts and actions pointed in the direction of your desired outcome, thereby creating them.
When you use this three-step process it can immediately calm anxiety and shift how you physically and mentally feel. This alone gives you power and control you would have otherwise not engaged. The more you do this, the quicker long-term results will follow. Remember that the work you do today to gain control, also has a delayed reaction, meaning you will see the benefits of your action and focus down the road."
Now, lets use those three steps to help protect our mental health as it relates to the current client of fear and uncertainty around the war happening in Ukraine.
What's the thing causing us fear/anxiety/stress? ____________ Write down your personal internal dialog on this, what is the conversation like in your head? What are your fears? What elements are OUT of your control?
What CAN I control?
I can limit exposure to news.
I can focus on my own energy.
I can focus on the possibility that things could resolve quickly and not escalate (focusing on a positive outcome instead of worse case).
I can donate to organizations who support the efforts in Ukraine.
I can have a fundraiser myself.
I can volunteer my time. I can mute accounts on social media who constantly post about it.
I can do an activity that brings me joy.
I can move my body.
I can meditate.
Keep brainstorming, come up with 10 things that you have control over.
Start executing on action items.
Now start DOING the things on your list. Put ALL your focus and energy on those items, and take all focus and energy OFF the problem.
When you do this, you get your power back. You gain control of your emotions, energy and personal outcomes, thereby letting go of the rest.