Using Stressful, Anxious Thinking to Get What You Need

stressful anxious thinking - blog

Learn how to use stressful, anxious thinking to get what you really need during the day, so you can improve your sleep at night.

Saying you’re “stressed” or “anxious” is pointless.

These have become generic terms that won’t help you feel better during the day, & won’t help you sleep better at night.

Here are 5 simple steps to practice instead, whenever you’re stressed or having anxious thoughts:

  1. Ask, “what am I FEELING at this moment?” Are you fearful? Angry? Sad? Get SPECIFIC. Once you’ve moved away from the generic “stress” or “anxiety” label to a more specific feeling like “anger,” then you can


  2. Identify the intensity of that feeling. Is your experience of anger more like “annoyance” or “irritation?” Or is it more full on “rage?” After you’ve isolated the true feeling underlying your stress or anxious thinking, and qualified its intensity, ask yourself:


  3. “What do I most need, or what do I value most here?” A question that naturally follows is:


  4. “What can I do to get more of what I need?” or “How can I reduce this gap?”

Our emotions provide information that helps us understand our underlying needs and values. The bigger the absence or wider the gap, the stronger our emotions will be. Emotions are useful messengers; they let us know when we need to make some changes.

  1. Take appropriate action. “Action” could be getting a hug from your children, taking a meditation break, or get this: NOTHING at all.

So the next time you happen upon a situation where you’d previously consider yourself “stressed” or “anxious,” try following these steps.

An opportunity to practice using stressful, anxious thinking to get what you need

Let’s use an example I’ve been seeing on social media a lot lately. (And, back when I worked in hi-tech, this EXACT same situation actually happened to me!)

Let’s say you get a mysterious meeting invite from your boss, titled simply “Quick Chat.”*

If you’ve done the first four steps I outlined above, you might learn:

  • The real emotion is “fear.”
  • Considering the intensity, it’s more specifically “terror.”
  • The underlying need is for “security.”

The action you take now can vary.

In my experience as a sleep & well-being coach (and someone who practices all this too!) is that the best “action” could be a conscious mindset shift.

Specifically, considering that the opposite could be just as true!

For example, a terrified mind will directly go to “I’m fired.” The opposite could be “I’m promoted,” or “I’m getting a raise.”

We consider worst-case scenarios all the time. What is the BEST case scenario?

Training your mind to see the BEST (or even a neutral) scenario is simple, but it’s not easy. Our brains are wired to look for and avoid danger.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a well-known American psychology professor and Principal Investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab (PEPLab) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests that it takes 3 positive thoughts to counter every 1 negative.

But like most things, this re-training is possible. And with practice, you will get better at using your stressful, anxious thinking to get what you most need: including better sleep.

*Yes, it’s on your boss to be more clear. And, it’s on YOU to train your mind back to center.

the opposite of stressful anxious thinking

Did this post open your eyes to something new?

For more atypical insights into your ongoing sleep & well-being struggles + a way forward without more pills, products, and gadgets—and probably a few more Seinfeld references— grab your copy of my #1 bestselling book: MASTERING YOUR SLEEP PUZZLE: YOUR 12-WEEK GUIDE TO SLEEPING BETTER.


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