When You’re Stressed By a Problem

by Rachel Miller

June 17, 2022

ABOVE : Mateus Campos Felipe

Sometimes we find ourselves suddenly overwhelmed by a task or situation that has grown. We’re in deeper than we can handle. It’s overwhelming!


  • Pay attention to those subtle signals of stress arising: the underlying feeling of pressure and the increasing awareness of time constraints. Pause for a moment. Breathe and actively relax the tension in your body.

  • Actively look for what you can do right now in this situation:
    • OK, there is real pressure, real constraints. What can you do?
    • What’s one thing you could do to make this easier?
    • You don’t need to solve everything right now, just focus on one thing that you could try that COULD help.

  • Notice how your thoughts immediately want to fret and worry about the outcome.
    • Yes, there is a deadline, and there are consequences. Actively put your mind towards what is ALSO true:
    • Even if you didn’t get the response you wanted, or things didn’t work out according to plan: What other possibilities exist? Actively look for the other things that are true of the situation.

  • Rely on others for support:
    • You will be strangely tempted to become reclusive or indulge in doubt and self-pity.
    • Actively reach out for support from others.
    • Consider: How can others support you now? Let them.
    • Think: What can I try? What else? What’s one thing that could help right now?

  • Actively focus all your attention on the possibilities. There is always ONE glimmer of opportunity hidden in every situation. Find it. Focus on it, and allow others to help you get there.


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