Stress equalizer exercise

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The main reason to worry or to panic is some kind of fear. Dealing with someone who is - unnecessarily - worried or panicking can be difficult. Often the fear is unfounded but it is difficult to calm that person again. How do you deal with it and what can you do about it? Below is a basic Stress Equalizer exercise that can offer support.

How to reduce stress

Worries or panic usually arise when people experience an uncertain outcome of a situation. Am I getting fired? Is that customer going to get angry? Will all my colleagues soon be disappointed in me? Questions that can lead to panic or unnecessary worry. The Stress Equalizer exercise works with Intentions, Opportunities, Downsides, and Insecurities and can in many cases calm down a person who is concerned about filtering facts and assumptions.

The theory behind Stress Equalizer exercise

The model assumes that a person's concerns or panic have essentially arisen through false assumptions that are perceived by the person as truth. A situation occurs and the person predicts a negative outcome without checking whether his or her assumptions are based on facts. With the model, you make a distinction between facts and perception.

The questions you ask are reciprocally the following:

  • What was the Intention that created the situation?
  • Of which we know for sure that this is an Opportunity
  • Of which we know for sure that this is a Downside
  • Of which we cannot (yet) say with certainty whether it is an Opportunity or Downside that makes it an Insecurity?

Once all ideas, facts, and beliefs have been fully mapped out, a healthy dialogue can be started about what Insecurities have a real threat and how we can influence or manage these. Facts are facts, so you don't have to talk about the Downsides and Opportunities anymore.

Prioritize how serious the consequences could be of all Insecurities in scale 1 to 10 and write down the level of influence you have. Crossing out the uncertainties that have little to no major or permanent negative effect creates an overview in the mind of the person who is worried or is in a panic. As a result, a real dialogue can take place about the Insecurities that are really to worry about.

The matter of influence

With regard to the remaining Insecurities, you should check to what extent you have the influence to prevent or repair negative consequences. After you have written everything down, you and the person will notice that the fear can now channel itself to just one or two subjects. We can question whether the outcome will really be negative.


Because it is often only about 1 or 2 Insecurities, it is relatively easy to determine whether you can live with these Insecurities. A control question is whether the original Intention outweighs the Downsides and Insecurities. If the Insecurities carry enormous risks and there is no or minimal influence on them, they can be moved to the Downside. This allows the person who is panicking to face reality.

The outcome can be two-fold.

  1. The person accepts the outcome and calms down.
  2. The person refuses to accept the outcome and continues to be seriously concerned and / or is still panicking.

In the latter case, acceptance exercises by an experienced life coach are the best solution.

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