The first step in dealing with stress is to name it – or them – for stress rarely comes alone. It is the piling up of one stress on another that is the killer. So now it is time to make a list. No details. Just a name or a few words. Some will be less significant than others but if it bothers you add it to the list, however trivial it appears to be.
Have you started? Now is the time! You cannot progress further until you have a list.
Keep the list open. Add to it as you remember more stresses. And look forward to the time when you can cross some off! It may come sooner than you expect.
Now I want you to go through the list, think about each one and put them into one of four priority categories:
- After all, this is not really a problem.
- This needs to be dealt with but it can wait a while.
- I cannot influence this so must leave it to others.
- This is urgent – I need to do something NOW!
It might take you a while to do this but stick at it as it is a worthwhile exercise.
Stress tends to create a jumble of information and impressions in your mind. Everything goes around in circles as you flit from one thought to another feeling increasingly anxious and distracted. This exercise, in contrast, helps you focus your attention on one thing at a time. As you think about your stresses and compare them with each other you will get a deeper understanding of each stress and a better impression of what it truly means to you.
And the chances are you now have fewer stresses that you need to deal with urgently!
We will look in a short while about how to deal with these urgent stresses but first of all, extend this exercise a little further and help Fred out with his problems.