What to Do When You're Stressed Out - Ling Abson

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Today we’re talking about stress, about anxiety, about what to do when you’re worried about something. So over the Christmas holidays, my daughter who is seven years old had been sick with a fever that ranged from around 100 to a 103 Farenheit for the past four days and I’ve been worried sick.

I’ve been having this anxiety about things that may or may not happen with her illness and I found myself not able to focus on anything else. I wasn’t really able to enjoy Christmas, wasn’t really able to enjoy spending time with anybody else.

After a few days of worrying and restlessness, today, it dawned on me that I really need to switch my mindset around this. I realize that’s been a technique that I’ve used for myself for quite a number of years that had proven to be very helpful and I want to share with you today in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

Perhaps you’re stressed about work. Perhaps you’re finishing up your vacation and you’re feeling anxiety about returning to work. Perhaps it’s dealing with an underperforming employee. 

The technique I used is called the fear setting exercise created by Tim Ferriss.

So first you have a piece of paper, divide that out into three columns.

The first column would be the worst-case scenarios you can imagine about what you’re stressed out about. This is the part you really get your mind to think about what’s the worst thing that could happen based on that fear. In my example, my worst-case scenario is instead of a viral infection it could be actually be a bacterial infection that I should have brought her to the doctor sooner. That she may need antibiotics or she may need a visit to a hospital because maybe there’s an underlying severe condition.

The next column – now that you’ve written about your worst case scenarios, the next column is about the things you can do to prevent those worst case scenarios from happening. In my example, I thought of being proactive by getting vitamin D, probiotics. I’ll make sure she gets enough vegetables in her. I’ll monitor her closely with the thermometer.

The last column is to pretend that your worst case scenarios have happened. What can you do to recover from them? Using my example again, the worst case scenario is that she’s getting sicker. I have my husband home with me to support so we’ll figure this out together. We will go to the hospital. I could also map out the fastest route to the hospital so I’m prepared. 

So this thought process is really to help you rationalize some of your fears, really write it down the worst-case scenarios, the things you can do now to prevent those worst-case scenarios from happening and to think of some of the ways you would recover from it, if those worst-case scenarios were to happen.

This exercise will help you feel more at ease knowing that there’s a plan in place and sometimes just going through those scenarios can help you feel more empowered that those imagined worst-case scenarios aren’t that scary at all. And chances are, those worst-case scenarios are very unlikely to happen.

Give this a try the next time you’re stressed out. You might be surprise by it.

 

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

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