When we have a lot going on with family, friends, work, world events etc, our minds can start to overflow, confusing our thoughts and clouding our clarity to work out what we need to deal with.
A tool I designed many years ago and was used by a leading Mental Health First Aid organisation in their workbooks is the Pressure Container – originally called the Stress Container.
Step 1 – draw a container – any shape you like and divide into sections – however, many you like. Remember, only you are seeing this so it doesn’t have to be a work of art!
Step 2 – empty everything that is in your head, into the container – in no particular order.
Step 3 – ask yourself the following questions for everything in your container:
- What evidence do I have to feel this way?
- Can anyone help me with this?
- What can I change
- What is out of my control to change and I just have to accept it?
This enables your mind to analyse exactly what it’s been worrying about and gain the clarity to recognise what it can change, who can help and what you just have to accept thereby reducing the pressure you’ve been carrying around.
See the example below.
Using the questions for each item in your container enables the reality of each situation to be seen and reveal the action we need to take – even if that action is just to accept it.
- We can’t change the constant news – but we can change the impact on us by listening/watching less.
- Our assumptions are not reality. We are not mind readers. The only we know how someone feels about us is to ask them.
- It’s natural to fear what is important to us. With anything like a sales presentation where anxiety levels naturally increase – get help nailing your presentation – maybe a run through with a colleague. Another trick I use when I feel anxiety rising ahead of an important event, is I tell myself how exciting this is and how awesome it will be. Think of the anxiety you may feel before going on a roller coaster ride. Is it anxiety or excitement? The symptoms are the same.
Try this tool next time you feel overwhelmed with too much in your head and let me know what you think!