Expecting During an Unexpected Time

Expecting During an Unexpected Time

Expecting During an Unexpected Time

Pregnancy During a Pandemic

We couldn’t have anticipated what 2020 would bring, for many of us it’s been a time of massive change, forcing us to practice flexibility, coping, and adaptability (that’s a lot of new skills!). In my work with clients who are expecting, this has been especially challenging. Whether this is your first or fifth pregnancy, it’s everyone's’ first pregnancy during a pandemic. As an expecting mother myself, I can understand the unique stressors the current circumstances present to pregnant women. 

In supporting clients (and going through this myself), I wanted to share two areas of focus that can help you have a positive pregnancy experience amidst a global pandemic: How to Renegotiate Your Expectations and Skills You Can Apply to Better Navigate the Challenging Emotional Terrain that is Pregnancy during a pandemic.

Renegotiating Your Expectations

If you’re like me, you may have pictured being pregnant as a time to be shared with family and friends and a time to celebrate, maybe you pictured, traveling somewhere special with your partner during your last months as a family of two (or three, or four, or five…)! Then Covid happened and what you pictured needed to shift. The unfortunate truth is, the plan you may have hoped for likely won’t be as conducive to the new reality. Changing expectations can be challenging, but the good news is we know what can help with this!

1)    Grieving the ambiguous loss: You may be grieving (feeling anger, shock, sadness, etc) the pregnancy you’d imagined.

Although this doesn't feel pleasant, it’s okay to allow these feelings of loss to exist. If you feel a sense of sadness when planning your virtual baby shower (or perhaps are for-going a baby shower altogether), allow yourself space and time to experience your emotional reality.

This may involve talking with someone you trust about what you’re feeling, journaling, or just finding time to check in with yourself.

2)    Develop a new, more present-focused vision: Reflect on what are more reasonable expectations, for right now. What can you focus on today or even this week that feels grounded in your reality?

For example, your baby shower may not be how you’d originally envisioned, but what are other (more realistic options) for how you can create an experience you will cherish?

3)    Adjust unhelpful thoughts: It’s easy to get stuck in the negative (in fact, humans are prone to do this). If you find yourself dwelling on potential catastrophic outcomes, remember all outcomes exist on a spectrum.

What are more positive possible outcomes? Shift your focus- this doesn’t mean avoid your feelings and worries, it’s an exercise in looking at what else exists within your emotional experience that could be more helpful).

4)   Find Gratitude and Reframe: What about this experience is working for you? For example, maybe you and your partner are both working from home, allowing you to fully experience this pregnancy together (which you wouldn’t have been able to do previously).

Perhaps, it has allowed you to involve out-of-state family members in more meaningful and creative ways. Whatever the case may be, find what is true for you and focus energy toward this reframe.

Let's Talk. Schedule a Free Consultation Today.

Skills to Navigate Challenging Emotions

You’re likely experiencing a mixed bag of emotions (perhaps, exacerbated by the expected hormonal shifts). You may notice feeling happy and grateful, while also feeling sadness or anxiety, then maybe guilt (because you should be happy all the time right now, right?). Wrong! You can feel what you feel.

  1.     Control what you can control: Try to focus on what is within your control (we know, worrying about the other “stuff” doesn’t work as well). I know, easier said than done.

    Try setting daily intentions that allow you to feel safe, secure, and connected to your growing little one. For some this may mean taking ownership over their prenatal health routine (cooking and workouts), for others this might mean cleaning their home.

  2.     Seek support: This is an opportunity to find healthy ways to lean on your social support network. Attempting to overcome these challenges in isolation, can make the experience feel even more daunting! Identify loved ones you can reach out to.

    You might also consider trying to connect with an Online Mothers Group. Talking with others who have a similar shared experience can be a powerful emotional outlet. Of course, you could also consider seeking the support of a counselor too!

  3.     Focus on developing your coping skills (specifically related to stress management): Take inventory of your current toolbox: what currently helps you to manage stress effectively and are there other ways we can expand your skillset?

    Perhaps this includes deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, listening to music, cooking, or going on walks. There are a plethora of stress management tools at your fingertips. Your challenge is to figure out what works best for you!

  4.     Focus on your values: Sometimes, shifting focus and concentrating on coming back into contact with what feels truly meaningful and important to us can help us to better manage discomfort.

    For example, becoming focused on details that are less important in the grand scheme of things (and, maybe not even in our control anyway), can create emotional discomfort. Instead, try to zoom out and look at what feels most important. For example, perhaps you’re noticing an increase in stress when researching the gazillion car seat options available to you (between the aesthetics of it, installing it, weight limitations, cost, safety ratings, convertibility as your little one ages, it’s overwhelming).

    Zoom out and look at the big picture – your primary concern may be safety. Re-focus your efforts to emphasize the priorities vs. getting stuck in the details.

  5.     Hold space: What are your feelings telling you? Feelings are data points. They are giving us clues to better help us understand our internal experience.

    What are your clues telling you?

    Make room for your feelings to exist and approach them with compassion. Attempt to use these data points to inform your next steps.

    For example, if you notice sadness creeping in, explore and inspect this feeling. Once you identify where it’s coming from and why it’s showing up, you can focus on what’s within your control to foster relief.

A Final Note

For those of you struggling with pregnancy brain fog (like me), here’s the cliff notes version of how to manage the unique stressors accompanying your pandemic pregnancy:

  1.     Adjust your expectations and stay grounded in your reality, not just the hard moments, but also the good moments.

    This time has brought great change, some of which is undoubtedly good. Try to honor this by reframing, addressing unhelpful thoughts, and allowing room for your grief experience.

  2.     Productively Navigate Your Feelings by acknowledging them, seeking support, and further developing your personal coping skills/tools.

I know this is a challenging time, pregnancy is hard no matter which way you slice it. However, it is also magical, exciting, and a time of tremendous change and growth.

I’m hopeful these tips may assist you in having a beautiful, and dare I say, fun pregnancy experience! You got this mamma!



Rachel-Harder-M.A. marriage counselor couples therapist denver broomfield colorado online marriage counseling

Rachel Hill, M.A., LPC, LMFT helps you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.



Real Help, To Move You Forward


Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.



Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.



Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Building CommUNITY During Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine

Building CommUNITY During Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine

Building CommUNITY During Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine

You Are Not Alone


During a time of uncertainty and fear, it can be easy to feel isolated and alone (especially, when current CDC recommendations call for a degree of social isolation). You may even feel a sense of disconnection…there’s a lot going on and a lot to process!

Although, it may feel like a “silly” time to find the silverlining (and, certainly, I do not want to diminish the hardship many of our community members are currently experiencing or will likely experience over the coming weeks). I do find sometimes, crisis situations lend themselves to fostering a sense of community and belonging if we are able to look hard enough. 

Think of an incredibly challenging event you have faced (and it might even be right now!). What did you crave most? I wonder if it might have been a sense of support or connectedness? A feeling that tells us, we are not alone.

First, it can be helpful to draw on what we as humans are programmed to do…which is to connect! We have a biological predisposition to seek connection, closeness, and attachment with others. 

At the core, we are social creatures. How we go about having our needs for connectedness met can vary, but I think most of us can relate to the desire to feel like a part of something larger than ourselves (i.e. finding our community: whether this means your social network, a bowling league, athletic team, a religious group, etc). 

I wanted to share ideas that may help you to foster a sense of belonging and connectedness, during a trying time, that can easily lend itself to feeling quite the opposite (disconnected and isolated). Below are a few tips to help you cultivate unity during a time of polarization.

You’re Not Alone

Everyone is experiencing the consequences of Covid-19. Although the consequences we each experience may vary in their specifics, we are all experiencing them. Unfortunately, no one has the opportunity to “opt-out.” This may in some ways feel disheartening, but perhaps we can view this as a more global opportunity to foster connectedness through shared experiences. 

We can seek cohesion, in knowing, across the world others are faced with the same hard questions, the same uncertainties, and are continuing to foster resilience. There is power in normalizing and sharing the burden of hardships. [For more on adapting to change, check out this article, Resilience: How to Adapt to Change.]

Reflect On What You Can Control And How This Can Help Your Community (And Yourself)

There is no beating around the bush, there’s A LOT of uncertainty about what the future might look like. However, there are things each of us has the power to impact. We are all able to contribute to the safety of ourselves and our community members. Find your agency in a situation where you may feel disempowered! 

Example: we all have the power to control our hygiene (like washing our hands and avoiding touching our faces) and to truly take part in social distancing efforts. Your individual efforts do have a community impact.

Community Contributions

Happiness research shows we feel better by doing good things for others. How can you contribute to the wellbeing of your community? Is this by donating to your local food bank (if able)? Or, this could simply mean doing your part to abide by health and safety recommendations. 

Conversely, perhaps you might find it beneficial to access community support and resources. Healthy communities can cultivate positive relationships, involving reciprocal give and take. If each person assumes responsibility for their part, we can inadvertently overcome obstacles as a community.

We Are All Connected

If the spread of this virus has demonstrated one thing, it is that we are connected worldwide through many different channels. This means, from a systemic perspective, when one person changes their actions, this can create a ripple effect. This then has the power to ultimately change the entire system. How cool is that?!

What this boils down to is recognizing we are part of a larger functioning system, and we each have power and agency to impact positive change. Your role in the system matters and is inherently intertwined with others.

Access Your Network (and, no, I’m not just talking about your wifi)

Identify your social support system and lean on them, as they will likely need to lean on you during this time. Specific activities that foster a sense of unity can have a profound impact on our individual sense of wellbeing. [Read: Coronavirus Life: Practical Advice to Help You Cope for more ways you can focus on your individual sense of wellbeing while being there for your community.]

Identify how you can feel close while practicing physical distance. Example: meeting with friends via FaceTime and participating in “virtual” activities.

I know this doesn’t take away the pain, fear, and loss you may be experiencing. Instead, my hope is to shed a small light on ways we could find unity within our communities. In turn, perhaps this may help to counterbalance some of the emotional burden.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on how we, as a collective society, will look back on this experience. What might we say about it? Perhaps we will be able to say, we stood by one another and worked to protect not only our own individual interests, but that of our loved ones and community members. 

Maybe we will be able to share that we looked at the worldwide consequences and thought about ways we each could individually impact positive change (because, believe it or not, we do have some agency). Not that we didn’t think about ourselves (because this is important too), but that we considered our own well-being in the context of others. We are stronger together.

In a time where you may feel alone, I’d like to wish you not only health but also unity and connectedness.

Rachel Harder, MA, LPC, MFTC


Rachel Harder, MA, LPC, MFTC helps you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.

Let's  Talk



Real Help, To Move You Forward


Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.



Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.



Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

Read More by Rachel Here…

How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFT-C is a positive, solution-focused “change agent” with a fun, empowering approach to personal growth and couples therapy. Rachel helps couples achieve a more balanced life both in their personal and professional lives.


Working it out

As a relationship counselor and life coach, I have had the opportunity to work with couples who both value their career and their relationship, yet do not know how to properly balance the two. Understanding this work/life balance is essential for not only individuals looking to cultivate a happier life, but especially for couples in long-term committed relationships.

For many of us, we become aware of how off balance our priorities are in unexpected moments. For me, I was typing furiously on my computer one evening, multi-tasking (or more attempting to multi-task). I was trying to carry on a conversation with my partner and tie up loose ends from the work-day when my partner said, “Work isn’t our whole lives.” I often revisit his words during moments of overwhelming stress or when I struggle to find balance. This little statement took me by surprise. Mainly, because this really hadn’t occurred to me.

I’d spent years in school to foster a career I could be proud of. In fact, many components of my life have revolved around the idea of creating success. In living this way, I had fallen into the trap of working long hours and forgetting to devote quality time to my other values. I was treating work like it was my whole life.

Now perhaps you’ve had a moment like this, where you’ve noticed you derive a sense of worth, value, or even freedom by focusing on your career. Perhaps, you’ve done this at what might feel like a cost (your social life, time with loved ones, less time doing hobbies, etc.).

What if I told you that you didn’t have to pick between a successful career or successful relationships?  In working with clients (and based on personal experience), I’ve found a few tips to be very helpful in creating balance.

Take Stock of Where You Spend Your Time

Dr. John and Julie Gottman describe this conundrum (balancing work and relationships) as a “simple” numbers game. If you and your partner both work 60-70 hours per week, this means there are simply fewer hours available to devote to your relationships. In these situations, they recommend maximizing the time you do have together (make that 10-minute break count) and to also evaluate what is sustainable for your relationship, long-term.

Crunch the Numbers!

Look at how much time you and your partner actually have together and discuss if this will be workable over the long haul. If the answer is no, this is an opportunity to really evaluate your goals as a couple (which I’ll talk more about next).

In the meantime, establish routines and rituals that allow for you to create meaning with the limited amount of time you do have together. For example, if you have 10 minutes together before heading to work, try putting your phones away and take the first few sips of your morning coffee together.

Identify What’s Truly Important

Certainly, it’s positive to derive satisfaction from your work, but what are your priorities in the “big picture?” Typically, most people don’t wish they’d spent more hours at the office…but we do often remember and, maybe even regret, the missed moments with loved ones or doing the things we love.

So, what's important to you and your relationship? Take a moment to write out a list and prioritize it according to what YOU feel is best and then discuss it with your partner. How do your priorities line up? Are there opportunities for growth both in your personal priorities and the priorities of your relationship?

Discuss With Your Partner Your Long-term Goals & Values

Talk openly about what you have in common (and what you don’t have in common). From there, you can identify ways to support one another as well as longer-term plans that will allow both you, your partner (AND your relationship) to have their respective needs met.

Often our relationship to work is rooted in what our work represents to us. For some it might symbolize a paycheck, a means to an end. For others, it might represent self-worth and validation. Understanding what work means to you will be a critical component in not only communicating with your partner or loved ones but also better understanding yourself.

Find Other Outlets That Assist You With the Same Goal

What I mean by this is, if you rely on work as your primary outlet to feel validated or accomplished, it may be helpful to find other avenues that meet these same needs. In doing this, you will have more flexibility to set healthy boundaries around work and you won’t need to rely so heavily on work in and of itself. Put bluntly, you’ll start feeling better!

My hope for you is that in evaluating these different pieces, you’re able to put your career into context (what’s the big picture and what matters most to you?). In doing this, it doesn’t mean that you value your job any less but instead, you may find you’re able to let go of unnecessary pressure and devote time to the relationships you truly value.

To sum it all up, by fostering open communication with your loved ones and by being clear in your values and goals, you certainly can have a satisfying career and satisfying relationships. You might even be able to find that tricky “balance” everyone is talking about.

Wishing you success,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC

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How to Release Control and Let Things Go

How to Release Control and Let Things Go

How to Release Control and Let Things Go

Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC is a therapist, life coach and couples counselor who helps you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.

The Control Crisis

Have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of the advice “Just let it go!” or “There’s nothing you can do about it, so why worry?” How difficult is that to hear!? This is especially true if you're a proactive person who is good at thinking through different scenarios. Shouldn't you do everything you can to avoid possible problems, or have things go the way you want them to?

So when people tell you to back off, you might start to wonder; “Don’t they understand what I’m going through?” Maybe you even start to think, “There must be something more I can do.” You probably notice worry, anxiety, and stress start to build, as you rattle over your different options, accounting for all the unknown variables.

The Relationship Between Anxiety and Control

I commonly hear folks discuss intense worry and distress because of circumstances we can’t control ranging from that friend who just won’t take your helpful advice to family members who don’t respect your boundaries. We are constantly being confronted with unpleasant situations that we often have little to no control over. This is especially true in relationships. What do we do with the anxiety this produces?

First, you might start to notice the paradox that takes place: we attempt to control circumstances to alleviate anxiety or stress, but in holding onto control (especially when we try to control what we have no power over) it only serves to increase anxiety and stress.THEN to compound the situation, the circumstances we most deeply desire to control are usually the ones we can’t! What a mess! [More on this: Are You Stuck in a Codependent Relationship?]

Well, here’s the good news: First, you’re not alone and secondly, there are some things you can do about it! I want to share with you three quick tips to let go of control (and in letting go of control, you may actually start to feel more in control… I know it sounds crazy).

How to Let Go Of Things You Can't Control

Tip 1: Identify Situations Where You Have Control… and Where You Don’t

The What: An easy rule of thumb is: you are in control of yourself. It may also be helpful to create the distinction between what you can control and what you may be able to impact.

For example, you can’t control if your coworker is willing to be a team player, but you may be able to impact this behavior by voicing your needs (i.e. you are in control of how you want to respond and how you want to manage the stress your coworker’s behavior causes you). [More about Emotional Intelligence in the workplace].

The How: You might try doing a check-in with yourself when you notice stress is on the rise. Ask yourself what am I in control of right now? I sometimes encourage folks to actually write out an exhaustive list of their concerns and go through each item and identify what they can control. Once you identify the “uncontrollables,” you can start to practice the next tip!

Tip 2: Give Yourself Permission to Let Go

The What: Sometimes we feel worrying is one way we can control for the uncontrollable. (As in, “If I worry about it enough, I’ll be prepared,” or “Worrying is better than doing nothing.”) Instead of churning in worry, try giving yourself permission to let go. Let go of the need to hold on to the unknown. Remind yourself that you will know what to do if a crisis arises. Trust yourself. You’ve got this! Even in moments where that feels impossible.

The How: Try reciting mantras such as:

“It’s okay for me to let this go.”

“I don’t need to hold onto this.”

“I have done everything I can do.”

You can also ask a loved one for support with this. Sometimes we might need reassurance, that we have indeed, done everything we can do, until we’re able to provide this reassurance to ourselves.

Tip 3: Radical Acceptance

The What: When we are unable to reframe or change the experience, we may need to rely on radical acceptance. This concept tells us there may be times we need to accept circumstances that we don’t like. (I know, yuck!).

The key with this is knowing that acceptance does not mean approval or giving up. Simply put, it means we can see the circumstances for what they are. In doing this; we reduce the suffering we experience. (I get that this sounds counterintuitive).

The How: Try slowing down (for example: deep breathing) and creating room for the reality of the situation to exist as well as the idea that accepting that situation is uncomfortable (there’s room for both of these things to exist).

Think of it this way: If you’re stuck in traffic maybe you start to feel angry, and you notice yourself questioning “Why isn’t that car moving!?” Or perhaps you try switching lanes or honking. You might notice your pulse is quickening and the frustration is surging through you.

OR if you embrace Radical Acceptance you could try saying to yourself, “I’m doing everything I can do, I can’t control the car in front of me, and I’m stuck in traffic right now and that stinks.”

Which experience results in less emotional stress? (Pssst…it’s the one where we accept what is, while simultaneously acknowledging it’s not enjoyable).

Managing Anxiety + Releasing Control = Inner Peace

The key with all of these tips is to practice, practice, practice and go slow. It can be incredibly challenging to let go, especially in situations that aren’t comfortable. Take your time, and give yourself credit for what you’re already doing. I hope through using these strategies you may find yourself regaining control by relinquishing it.

Remember- everyone is doing the best they can in the moment (this includes you!).

All the best,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFT-C

How to Strengthen Your Relationship

How to Strengthen Your Relationship

How to Strengthen Your Relationship

Rachel is an expert couples counselor, therapist and life coach with Growing Self Counseling & Coaching who specializes in helping you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.

Want a Fantastic Relationship? You Can Bank On It.

In my couples therapy and marriage counseling sessions, I often hear couples talk about times when they had so much fun with one another and felt incredibly connected, and moments where problems felt smaller, and arguments were more manageable. Couples in these situations often wonder, “How did this happen?” but more importantly “How do we get that back? I want to have fun with my partner again; I’m so sick of arguing all the time!” If any of this feels remotely familiar to you, then you might want to take a look at your emotional bank account.

Now before we do that, let me back up and give you a little more information.

Strategies To Strengthen Your Relationship

The Research: Dr. John Gottman is one of the premier researchers in the field of evidence based marriage and family therapy. Through decades of research into what makes relationships work (and what ruins them) he's found that it’s not enough to ONLY address conflict resolution; we also need to look at friendship and shared meaning in order to truly strengthen our partnerships.

Conflict resolution, friendship and shared meaning: These three relational areas have a bi-directional influence on one another- meaning if we look at strategies to strengthen the friendship between you and your partner, we’re also likely to improve your ability to resolve conflict (and vice versa). You might wonder, why is that?

Well, let’s look at it this way — think of your very best friend (this might even be your partner); now think of a friend who you have an “ok but not terribly strong” relationship with. Which person do you think you’d be able to resolve conflict with more effectively?
Most likely, the individual you feel closer to and have a stronger friendship with — you have a greater baseline understanding of one another, there’s investment in that relationship,etc.

Investing In Your Relationship

Why It Matters: Now here’s why this matters- you have a shared bank account with your partner (and no, I’m not talking about your actual checking account). What I’m talking about is your emotional bank account. This is a shared account between you and your partner. When you and your partner have positive interactions, you make deposits into this account. When you and your partner have negative interactions, you make withdrawals from the account. Like any bank account, the goal is to keep the balance high.

However, there is a curveball in this whole situation. The ratio of withdrawals to deposits is not even. We require five positive interactions (deposits) to outweigh one negative interaction (withdrawals). This means it’s really important to stock up so you can handle withdrawals, without going into the negative. You might wonder, how do we stock up our account?

Double Down On The Positive in Your Relationship

What You Can Do About It: Well, let’s piece this all together! The reason I blather on about the importance of friendship and shared meaning in the relationship, is because we can foster these areas on a daily basis, thus making DEPOSITS AND MORE DEPOSITS.

So what is a “positive” interaction? It can range from noticing your partner’s bids for connection, asking your partner about their day, a quick kiss, or even giving them a compliment. Take a moment to reflect on what might make your partner feel loved and supported on a daily basis and show this through your daily interactions.

Research indicates that small, positive, and consistent daily interactions are more effective instrengthening the relationship than the occasional grand gesture. The key is to notice when your partner is investing in the relationship and to make an active effort to do the same.

So, if you maintain a high balance in your bank account (at least 5:1), you will be able to more effectively resolve conflict (your account will not go into the “negative” every time there’s an argument). With all this being said, you should take the time to develop strategies to resolve conflict effectively, but don’t forget fostering fun and friendship within your relationship are just as important. And you can take that to the bank!


Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFT-C

How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

Rachel Harder is a marriage counselor, life coach and therapist with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching who specializes in helping you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.  Learn more about Rachel.

Are You a World-Class Worrier?

Have you ever found yourself laying in bed and worrying: “Did I set my alarm?  What all do I need to get done tomorrow? Agh, I forgot I have a meeting! I hope my boss won’t say anything about that project. How will I have time to stop by the grocery store and get to the gym!? Maybe I should cut the gym out?” 

Well you get the picture, the worries, to-do lists, and questions can go on and on. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you may be a pro-worrier. You may notice worrying is impacting your relationships and your overall happiness. So, put your to-do lists aside and take a deep breath! We’re going to talk about

dealing with worry and stress.

Let's start with a little background about why stress can have such a big impact. Stress is a “normal,” biological, bodily response. It helps to trigger our “fight or flight” response, which protects us in potentially dangerous situations. This is great! It means your body is functioning effectively! What’s not great is when we experience this response over an extended period of time. This can negatively impact our nervous and immune systems.

When we practice strategies to reduce our stress and worry levels, it can also have a positive impact on how our bodies are functioning from a physiological perspective, improving overall wellness. Now let’s get to the good stuff. I'm reaching into my cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques tool bag to bring you Seven Skills for Stress. I use these with my therapy and life coaching clients all the time, and I know they work. Try using these to help mitigate some of that worry!

Seven Skills to Manage Stress

  1. Prioritize:Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and worrying about how you will accomplish all of it? Taking a look at what needs to get done versus what we would like to get done can be helpful. For example, picking your kids up from school likely needs to get done, but do you NEED to vacuum the floors, or can it wait?
  2. Delegate:You might be thinking, “I’m uncomfortable with asking for help.” However, try to remember you are one part of a greater system, and in order for that system to run smoothly, all pieces need to be up and running. You can prioritize high-stress or high-need tasks and delegate! If they are necessary tasks of daily living for your household, you can ask for some support. This can be talking to a friend or asking your partner to make dinner. Remember, bids for attention connect!
  3. “This or That” Thinking: Often worry can be rooted in dichotomous thinking (sometimes called “black and white” thinking). This means we may say to ourselves, “This has to happen, or that will happen.” When we think in this way we eliminate the opportunity for flexibility. You essentially have sent the message to your body, if this does not get done now, there is danger! Take a moment and ask yourself is there another option?  What’s the middle ground? [Learn more about helpful vs. unhelpful thinking styles in our online Happiness Class.]
  4. What’s the Worst that Could Happen?: Let’s face it- it can be incredibly easy to catastrophize. How many of us play out “the worst case scenario,” just so we’re prepared…”just in case.” Take a moment and first practice noticing when you’re jumping to the worst-case scenario, then ask yourself, “Is this really a likely outcome?” Are there other more positive outcomes that are equally as likely?
  5. What’s the Evidence?: Ask yourself is there any past evidence to support that I cannot handle or manage the tasks at hand? Chances are, there will not be much evidence to support that in times of intense worry you won’t be able to formulate a plan of action. Remember: You got this!
  6. Explore Activities That Work For You: Oftentimes when you’re stressed, the activities that give you a sense of relaxation fall to the wayside. Try to remember that taking care of you allows you to be present for others in your life. Try integrating activities into your daily schedule that give you some relief; this could range from taking five minutes to just breathe to going for a run outside.
  7. What Can I Control?: Oftentimes we worry about things we do not have control over. Take the pressure off of yourself to control the uncontrollable! All you can control is yourself. When you notice your thoughts pushing you to analyze all of the external circumstances, bring yourself back to the simple (or not so simple) question of “What is within my control?”

Managing worry and stress is all about finding what works for you! Everyone experiences and deals with stress differently. Remember we can’t control that stress is a biological response but you do have control over how you’d like to manage it. If you've been struggling with stress and worry lately, and would like some personal support in managing it just get in touch with me: I'm always here to talk.

All the best,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC