Step by step guide to reduce stress

The following is a step by step guide to help you reduce your stress and hopefully change your perspective on some of the current stressors in your life. You have lots of choices but it may not feel that way. Try this out and see how it goes.

Step 1 Breathe Deep

  • I know you have heard this a million times, maybe the million and oneth time will convince you. You can’t help yourself when you are caught in an anxious state, your brain isn’t working. Breathe as deeply and slowly as you can, it will calm you down. What have you got to loose, maybe a minute? Breathe in super, duper slowly, pause, breathe out even slower. Nicely done!

Step 2 Write it down

Write down every worrisome, dreadful, fearful thought that is keeping you from taking action. No matter how silly, juvenile, petty, or ridiculous those thoughts may be. Write every single one of them down. Keep writing until you start to repeat yourself.

I strongly recommend writing these down on a piece of paper. There is a lot of science that backs up the power of writing things down in your own hand and the transformative nature of that exercise. Get a nice notebook and fancy pen to treat yourself for the hard work you are doing.

Step 3 Take a break

After compiling your list, take a break. Move your body, dance, sing out loud, shake off the yuck that came up when you wrote the list. The list has negative energy attached to it so shake that off and give your body a reset.

Step 4 Review the list

After shaking it off (please do not skip this step it really is impactful) Review the list, no edits, no deleting, no judgement, just review.

Step 5 Appreciate what you have accomplished

Your list has a beginning, middle and most importantly an end! Your list of troubling thoughts is finite!! Yay! Finite is doable, finite is something you can chip away at, finite is finite.

Step 6 Start to organize the list

Now that you have your finite list let’s group them. Are there similar thoughts that can be grouped together?

Step 7 Organize a bit more

Now divide the groups of thoughts, or individual thoughts into two types:

  1. Things I have control over
  2. Things I have NO control over

Step 8 Make a choice and embrace it

For the worries that are out of your control you have two choices: keep those worries or let them go. Right now you are choosing to keep the worries or anxieties that you have no control over. It may be an unconscious choice but a choice none the less. Let’s make it an active choice.

Letting go of uncontrolables

Do you want to continue to worry about those things you have no control over? If no, great! Begin the process of letting go. It is a process so give it time. Just because you now recognize the choice you are making it will not magically make them disappear altogether. The load will be lightened immediately, for sure, you will feel a sense of relief. Hold on to that as long as possible. As the worries come back online, after the initial release, remind yourself you choose to let them go. This will be an active exercise for a little bit until you reprogram your mind that these worries are no longer on the menu. Be kind to yourself through this process, accept that it takes a bit of time to reprogram, and that’s ok.

Not letting go of uncontrolables

If you choose to hold on to those worries you have no control over that is OK too. In making it an active choice they will feel different, a bit lighter. I believe eventually you will be able to let them go and just shifting from passive to active in your choice will make a positive difference. Something to try – Set a timer

Let go of the worries as your responsibility for just a little bit. Set a timer for 5 minutes, or 1 minute if 5 feels too long, and don’t allow your thoughts to linger on those worries, redirect to something positive. When the timer goes off give yourself a shake and then you can go back to holding those worries. This gives you a taste of what it is like to let them go and it may make it easier to release them in the future if that is what you choose to do.

Step 9 Keep up the good work

Any time you feel anxiety creeping in take a long slow breath in and long slow breath out and remind yourself you have a choice to stress or not to stress. There will be times you will get caught up in stress we all do and that is OK. As soon as you notice it breathe deep. Each time you are able to redirect yourself from stressed to not-so-stressed you are strengthening your Anti-Stress muscles and it will get easier and easier as time goes on.

What to do with stressors you have control over?

I am going out on a limb and guessing this is a very short list. The items that stress you or cause anxiety that you do have control over exercise that control. If you have control over them take that control and use it! You have done the hard part of acknowledging it is a stressor and that you have control over it, well done. If something you have control over stresses you out do you really have control? In my experience the list of things you have control over is one item long: you. You have control over you, that’s it. You get to choose your reactions and actions. That’s it. That is the entirety of what you have control over. Isn’t that a relief? Just one thing on the list to truly worry about.


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