Are you stressing yourself?

There’s enough stuff to stress you out there without you stressing yourself!

This tool will help you understand the unhelpful beliefs that often results in people experiencing more stress.

Reading time: 4 minutes

What will it do?

This tool will give you the chance to check in with some typical beliefs that people hold which result in a greater likelihood of stress. The tool will also allow you to start to counter some of those beliefs, so you can create a different foundation for yourself.

Complete the tool and then come back to it from time to time to assess the progress you’re making in holding beliefs that make unhelpful stress unlikely.

Three steps to take

Get focused on the things that will make the most impact for you

1. Check how many of these statements you know you say to yourself or others

  • People can’t change
  • People are always unkind
  • I’m lazy
  • I must be perfect at all times
  • I’ll never be happy
  • If anything can go wrong, it will
  • You’re only as good as your last result
  • I always know I should have done better than I did
  • Life (i.e. the world and other people) should be fair
  • I must get all of these tasks done today
  • People should be able to see the progress I’m making in my life by now (house/job)
  • I should be earning more money
  • I must never make a mistake
  • I must cope with everything, on my own
  • I must be in control of all situations
  • Things must go well
  • People should always treat others well

It’s not an exhaustive list, but if you’ve got even a few of these ticked, there’s a chance for you to consider some alternative beliefs that will help you be less likely to experience unhelpful stress. (If you want to read more about this kind of stuff, then search out Albert Ellis, REBT).

2. Stress-busting questions

There’s some simple tips you can remember for challenging your unhelpful beliefs. So, here’s your stress-busting questions to ask yourself when you’re having one of the thoughts above, or something similar.

  • Is that statement 100% accurate? (search for evidence that you are wrong)
  • Have I heard friends of mine express a different view to mine with equal conviction? (are those friends more or less stressed than you?)
  • Am I underestimating my own abilities and capabilities when I say this? (take the time to realise the power you have and what you’ve achieved in the past that disproves your point)
  • Who is keeping score and judging me, other than me? (search for evidence that anyone other than yourself really cares about progress being made or success being achieved)
  • What happens if that is not true? (imagine making things not go well, or deliberately making mistakes, and think about what would actually be the consequences of that)

Your other quick tip to take the stress out of many of these statements is to stop being so definitive. If you remove, NEVER, ALWAYS, MUST, OUGHT and SHOULD, you’ll find you give your mind different ways of believing straight away.

3. Time to choose

Pick one or two of the key statements that you know you are guilty of using to increase the amount of stress you feel on a day-to-day basis.

Write down the statements and then write down the appropriate questions next to the statements that challenge the thinking. Then write down as many answers to the questions as you can (get some other people involved too so that you can draw on the wisdom of others).


Take a photo of your answers on your phone and whenever the thought pops into your head, it’s time to look at the photo and challenge the thought straight away with the evidence that you’ve gathered that this belief is no longer helpful for you.

Your plan

Get a plan Stan. This is about getting going. The basics you need to have in your plan are set out below. As well as these we’d encourage you to:

  • Think about the people who need to know that you’re using this tool and tell them what you’re doing. That way they can support you, help you reflect and won’t think you’re just being weird.
  • Think about the impact you want from using this tool. Depending on your starting point, how hard you work and how ambitious you are, you might not get that impact straight away. So valuing progress rather than perfection will help build your confidence and keep you going.

Plan basics

  1. What are you going to do? (This bit is easy – it’s the 3 things listed above. No 3 is particularly helpful here)

    My actions:

  2. When are you going to do these things? (You don’t have to be great to get going, but you better get going if you want to be great)

    My start date:

  3. How often will you be doing them? (Getting great has a lot to do with making things a habit)

    Check-in frequency and dates:

Get serious

The difference between having a plan and making it work is about action. So get this in your diary now. Tell the people who need to know so that they can support you and won’t just think you’re being weird. Do it now.

Remember, it’s progress not perfection. You’re looking for gradual improvement, not for Rome to be built in a day.