I usually used this handout with a guided relaxation after.
When we think (and strongly believe!), really irrational stuff, we are most likely thinking one or more of the following:
- “Things should (ought, must, have to) be different than they are!”
- “It’s awful (horrible, terrible, catastrophic) that they aren’t!”
- “I can’t stand it (it’s too long, too much, too big, too painful)!”
- “Somebody here is a jerk!”
- “Because I have failed, I’ll always fail!”
Sure, there are other possible irrational statements, but these are among the most frequent, I believe; these are the big five. They represent “must”, “awfulizing”, “low frustration tolerance (LFT)”, and “condemning” beliefs.
A fellow maniac of the freeways cuts you off at the pass. You flip into overdrive rage: “Hey, jerk!” “You learn to drive in your living room (translation: He shouldn’t drive like that)?” “That’s the way to get people killed (translation: That’s awful)!” “I can’t stand drivers like that (translation: I can’t stand driver’s like you)!” You only needed three of the five crazy beliefs here.
I find these five statements are frequently part of the irrational thinking that gets people in trouble. If you work diligently to notice these irrational beliefs, that is the first step in having control.
If you have a little difficulty seeing that you believe these crazy ideas, just pay attention to what goes through your mind when you feel upset. That’s the way it sometimes is with “new thinking;” we need a little time and pushing to catch it. Be patient with yourself, and you’ll catch on, too.
Another handout to start the conversation in groups. If the group I am working with engages easily I will just use one copy. I have people, one at a time read a thinking style and we talk about it.
If the group does not engage easily I past out copies to everyone and they circle one or two and we discuss.
At the end of group (and most groups I do) I ask if this handout was useful or not, if there is anything that can be done to make it better.
About 75% of Psycho-educational groups I have facilitated over the decades have basicly been coping skills. This handout is for a self esteem group and usually generated engagement.
To begin I ask folks to fill out this handout and than we talk about it. Having a handout helps to facilitate interactions with clients, encouraging them to share …. which in ideal situations leads to a more open discussion, moving away from the handout but staying with the theme. If we have all shared and a new discussion does not evolve I ask the group what other questions should we ask …. and than we ask.
Positive Statements about you
1. I like myself because:
2. I’m an expert at:
3. I feel good about:
4. My friends would tell you I have a great:
5. My favorite place is:
6. I’m loved by:
7. People say I am a good:
8. I’ve been told I have:
I spent years leading an anger management group and this handout was one I used when groups had difficulty engaging.
As in all groups at the end I asked people if this handout was useful or not and what could be done to make it better. Most said that it was somewhat useful. This handout was not my first choice in working with groups.
If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s
|Change the situation: Avoid the stressor. Alter the stressor.||Change your reaction: Adapt to the stressor. Accept the stressor.|
1. Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed.
Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them.
Avoid people who stress you out –Limit the amount of time you spend with people that cause you stress.
Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off.
Avoid hot-button topics –If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.
Pare down your to-do list –If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”
2. Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future.
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way.
Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same.
Be more assertive. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them.
Manage your time better. Plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself.
3. Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.
Look at the big picture. Will it matter in a month, or a year?
Adjust your standards. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts.
4. Accept what you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable, in such cases; the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth.
Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.
Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes.
5. Make time for fun & relaxation
You can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for healthy fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors.
Healthy ways to relax and recharge
|Go for a walk. Spend time in nature. Call a good friend. Exercise. Write in your journal. Take a long bath. Light scented candles||Play with a pet. Work in your garden. Get a massage. Curl up with a good book. Listen to music. Watch a comedy|
Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule..
Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life.
Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself.
6. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress.
Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat.
Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary.
Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.