Stress Less — The Personal Side

A long time ago I attended a training on “knowing when your container is full.” I know the title sounds funny, but what I learned by doing one simple exercise during that training has stuck with me years since. 

The person conducting the training had us make lists of our positive and negative coping mechanisms.  Then she had us create a “picture” of our “different selves”—drawing from our list of coping mechanisms.

Here is a fictional example of the exercise we did:

Healthy Self

  • works out 3 times a week
  • eats 3 healthy meals per day
  • goes to bed by 10:00pm
  • reads daily
  • sets apart special time for family and friends
Stressed Self

  • works out 2 times a week or less
  • eats more chocolate and/or skips breakfast
  • stays up later watching TV or   using social media
  • reads less
  • spends less time with family and friends (cancels dates, etc.)
Extremely Stressed/Unhealthy Self

  • erratic work-out schedule
  • eats more chocolate and   drinks more caffeine (also meal choices are not as healthy)
  • stays up late
  • spends too much time using social media and little to no time reading
  • cancels all special dates   with family and friends

Since doing this exercise years ago, I am much better at now identifying when I am starting to become over-stressed. When I see myself moving from “healthy self” to “stressed self”, I aim to spend more time using my positive coping skills. For me, this means working out regularly, meeting with friends and family members who make up my support system (even if I am tired) and going to bed early.

Sometime this week I encourage you to do this exercise. Becoming aware of how you negatively deal with stress will empower you to use positive coping skills instead of negative ones and truly “stress less.”

If you are dealing with one or more major life stressors and having trouble identifying and implementing positive coping skills, a seasoned mental health counselor can help you. A licensed therapist can provide a warm, empathic environment where you can process your feelings and move from your “extremely stressed self” to your “healthy self.” We all experience stress in life and learning how to cope well with it is essential to living a joyful and peace-filled life. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to make an appointment with a trained counselor.


Yolanda Brailey