I have gone through times in my life when I have become easily stressed by the events in my life. Sometimes the circumstances that are the root cause of my stress are out of my control. At other times it’s my actions that have led me to chaos. I have learned these three steps and teach them to my clients who have anxiety and stress in their lives.
Here are the steps I use:
1. Stop the running thoughts that actually fuel stress and breathe long enough to re-assess the situation.
2. Ask: Can I do some action that will actually help this situation or are these events out of my control?
3. Do the action, or if there is no action that will change the situation, pray and surrender the situation to God
In the first step, stopping to take a breath is the most important key. When we stop to breathe we are more able to determine what is in our control and what is out of our condtrol. Often stress and anxiety come from fear about something that MAY happen in the future. We have no control over the future. This stress is fantasy stress over a fantasy situation that exists only in our mind. By stopping to take a breath, we are able to recognize this and go to step two.
In the second step, we examine the difficulty that seems to be causing the stress to determine if there is some action we can do today that may help the situation. Doing some action helps in that powerless feeling that sometimes accompanies stress. Always reflecting on ourselves, and always knowing we may influence another person by our actions, but we cannot change anyone but ourselves. We do our work in the world and let go of the results.
In the third step, we do some action that we are able to do, if there is an action for us to do. At this point, it helps to surrender the situation to God’s will, not mine. Trusting that Higher Power knows more than me what’s best for my life.
Breathe, act and pray.