When things feel out of our control, we can become overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated.
When we focus instead on the things we can influence and control, rather than the things we can't, we change to a more positive state.
One of my favourite tools for reducing stress and overwhelm is the Circle of Influence and Control model by Stephen Covey. This is typically used to identify obstacles and blocks in your thinking and explore options to increase your sphere of influence. It can be used on your own, with your family, or with teams.
The aim of the Circle of Influence and Control is to help you take responsibility for your concerns and to be calmer, more proactive and productive. In doing so, you will feel happier with the current situation.
1) Draw three circles as shown in the diagram below. Use a big piece of paper if you can.
The outer is the Circle of Concern. Inside it, you will put all the things you are anxious, stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated with.
The smaller is the Circle of Control. Inside here you will put all the things you have control over.
The middle is the Circle of Influence. Inside this, you will put all the things you can influence.
See below for further instructions.
2) Within the respective circles collate all the things that correspond to that circle, starting with the Circle of Concern, followed by the Circle of Control.
You may wish to write directly onto the paper, or use post-it notes so you can reuse it or move things around.
In the Circle of Concern, you might write lockdown, home schooling or inability to see family and friends. In the Circle of Control, it might be your behaviour, actions, words, outlook or ideas. Try to be as specific as possible.
3) Now within the middle circle, the Circle of Influence, focus on all the things you can do something about. For example, it might be your home environment or finances, or talking to your boss about workload and setting better boundaries.
4) Time to let go! There will be things that you are concerned about, that you can't control. These are the things you have to let go of. They are taking up unnecessary brainspace! It can feel incredibly freeing to let go of them. These will typically be things that remain in your Circle of Concern at the end of this exercise.
5) Now focus solely on your Circle of Control and Circle of Influence. Create actions below from these two circles.
The more you feel you can influence and take action on, the more motivated you'll be. It will enable you to feel more in control and therefore reduce stress and overwhelm.
See how much calmer, more positive and motivated you feel.