Stress Resilience Blueprint
What do you really need for effective stress management?
This is the question behind a series of articles I wrote for prospective clients who want to know if my approach can help them solve problems associated with stress:
- difficult emotions like anxiety, panic and irritability
- fatigue, burn-out and low-mood
- brain fog and difficulty focusing, thinking and remembering
- insomnia; sleep problems
- health problems made worse by stress such as IBS, headaches or migraines.
This and other articles coming later in the sequence, present my answer to the question of what you need for effective stress management, and show how my services aim to deliver it.
In any project, the results you achieve are framed by how you conceive of what needs to be done – what you think is possible, what you can think of to try, and the tools, expertise and support available to you.
I created this blueprint because I believe when it comes to stress, so much more possible than many people realise.
Talking to a counsellor about your feelings is well and good, but personally I don't think it's enough. I know that for a lot of people it hasn't proven effective in the longer term, and for many others the idea of it is a complete turn-off. If that's you, I want you to know that there are other options which may suit you a lot better.
And whilst I would never advise anyone to stop taking psychoactive medications, or ignore medical advice to do so, I recognise many people don't want to go down that route because they know it doesn't address causes and may lead to side-effects.
So I hope this blueprint can give you a sense of other options. I've created a one-page summary document that you can sign up to download, and there's also a video commentary. If you sign up you'll receive a sequence of articles via email
Of course the blueprint is really just the beginning – it's only a first step towards creating a project plan for effective stress management. (I think it's helpful to think of stress management as a project, because you need to start by defining clear and achievable outcomes, then you look at what skills and resources you need to actually deliver them.)
If you sign up for the one-page download and the video commentary, you'll also receive by email a sequence of articles over the coming weeks that unpack the themes in greater depth and offer helpful tips and insights. I hope they'll deliver value but you can of course unsubscribe at any time.
The Blueprint: What You Need For Effective Stress Management
I've grouped things into three areas:
- Knowledge & understanding
- Skills & resources
Knowledge & Understanding
This is the easy bit – but important because it's about understanding what exactly stress management really means.
Some things you need to know & understand:
- What your real goal is – not just how you'd like to feel instead, but what skills and resources you need to develop.
- What your real problem is – not just in terms of symptoms (like anxiety, fatigue etc.) but as underlying causal patterns. There isn't just one – causes are multiple and individual. You have to address all, or as many as possible, to see real results.
- How stress works as a mind-body process (psychobiology of stress).
- Your triggers for stress – both internal (psychological) and external.
- What emotions are, in their different aspects, both physical and mental. How they evolve over time, and what works and what doesn't work in terms of influencing them.
Skills & Resources
This is the real heart of the matter: to manage stress effectively you need a set of skills and inner resources, best summed up as stress resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly and easily from stress, upsets and set-backs. The real goal is not avoiding stress or anxiety, but resilience. And it's a skill-set that can be learned and developed with the right training and the right tools. But what exactly does it entail?
I've drawn out five core skills – I call them mind-body skills as they're about guiding your body towards states that support well-being and optimal performance. Together they're a foundation for higher-level skills such as emotional intelligence and willpower.
- Mind-body awareness – by this I mean awareness of body responses and processes including feelings, plus thinking and other mental processes, and crucially how these two relate to each other – awareness of how the mind-body connection plays out in practice.
- Attention – flexibility & stability of focus. It might not be obvious how this is key to resilience and emotional well-being all round.
- Letting go part 1: physical. This means being able to calm the body – reducing physiological arousal and letting go of tension.
- Letting go part 2: mental. This means being able to separate yourself a little from your own thinking – differentiating your thoughts and beliefs about the world from the world in itself. It means acceptance – letting go of mental struggle.
- Accessing & sustaining positive emotion – it's not enough to get rid of negative emotions (and that's ultimately not possible anyway).
I'm listing this third but it's really the starting point: you have to approach stress management as a project, with the right mindset – by mindset I mean the set of beliefs, assumption and attitudes that condition how you perceive stressful situations, how you respond and how you try to cope.
What you need:
- Growth mindset – the deep-rooted belief that change is possible – that you can learn and develop, and that what matters most is consistently applying yourself to that learning process. We all have a growth mindset at least in some contexts but do you have it when it comes to stress and emotions?
- Positive stress mindset – the view that stress is a challenge to be engaged with, and that the stress response is your body mobilising energy to meet that challenge, rather than as a threat, something dangerous or harmful or something to be avoided.
- “Willingness” – this is the opposite of what I call resistance – the mindset of struggling against and trying to get rid of or avoid experiences you don't like – which more often than not makes things worse. When you let go of the struggle, surprising things happen. I realise it's very difficult to willingly face your worst fears. The key is to start small. The biggest mistake is waiting till the difficult feelings are gone before acting – you'll wait for ever.
Key Tools For Effective Stress Management
Again, the core message is that stress resilience is a skill-set that can be learned and developed with the right tools and the right training. Even mindset can be developed and trained. But what are the right tools?
- Mindfulness – a tool for training the mind, particularly attention and focus but perhaps more fundamentally, a mindset of acceptance.
- Biofeedback – measures body responses and feeds them back so that you can become more clearly aware of the mind-body relationship, and based on that awareness, learn to guide your biology into a more favourable and adaptive state. Biofeedback is not a treatment but a tool for learning.
- Positive psychology coaching – positive psychology is the science of well-being, and provides a set of models plus research-proven techniques for developing emotional positivity and other aspects of well-being.
Stress Resilience Articles
As I said earlier, I've written a sequence of articles that unpack the content of the stress resilience blueprint in greater depth, offering helpful tips and insights for implementing the strategies. You can sign up to receive these articles by email over the coming weeks using the form on this page.
Here are some of the topics coming up:
- What's your model of well-being, and why it's important
- Why we get tight, why it matters, and what to do about it
- What CBT is missing
- Emotional literacy: how to identify emotions
- Why optimal breathing is vital in stress management
- Positive emotion & how to access it
- How to free yourself from unhelpful stories and narratives
- Why attention & focus are central in stress management
- How to be an optimist
- Why physiology is key to will-power and motivation
THE STRESS RESILIENCE BLUEPRINT
I've created a summary statement of what everyone needs for effective stress management: how to work with anxiety, panic, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, low mood and other stress-related symptoms.
This plan is a blueprint of what my services and products aim to deliver.
Sign-up to receive a one-page summary and watch a short video commentary.Get The Stress Resilience Blueprint
READ MORE ABOUT BIOFEEDBACK FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT
How To Manage Your Mind With Biofeedback & Mindfulness
Book by Glyn Blackett
- Underlying dynamics in stress & anxiety
- Science of the mind-body connection & how it can be applied
- Why breathing is at the heart of stress management
- Practical models for framing self-control challenges & solutions