By this point, you’ve learned all about the nature of stress, techniques for dealing with acute stress, and lifestyle changes for dealing with chronic stress.
You have all the tools you need. Now it’s time to put it into action by creating a plan to deal with the stress in your life.
Step 1. Identify Causes
Reflect on the sources of stress in your life. This is not always easy to do. Write down and record all of the stressors you’ve identified.
Try not to limit yourself too big, obvious external causes. Your own internal thoughts and feelings can be causes of stress as well. One effective way of pinpointing your stressors is to create an entry every time you feel stressed.
Actionable: In this entry, record down the stressor. Set a reminder to review your entries after a week or two to see what patterns you might find.
Step 2. Address the Causes
Once you have all of your causes, make a plan for dealing with each cause. In general, you can either change the situation or change your response to the situation.
There are 3 A’s that may be helpful rules of thumb: Avoid unnecessary stress – such as by
avoiding people that cause stress, not taking on too much responsibility, or modifying your environment. Alter the situation – if it’s hard to avoid the situation, try and see if you can deal with the situation in a different way such as by finding a way to change different parts of the
Adapt to the stressor – if you can’t change the stressor, try and change your reaction to the stressor, such as by using one of the stress management techniques you learned earlier.
Step 3. Revisit the Plan
No plan is perfect, especially at the beginning. Try implementing your plan for a week or two and see how it goes. Most likely, some parts will have worked while some parts will not work. Modify your plan to improve the parts that did not work and try again.
Treat your anti-stress plan like a miniature experiment until you find what works best for you. Check in with your plan each week and keep tweaking it to make it better.