Coping Strategies

If-Then Plans

I have big plans, you know.

Planning situations can be extremely helpful in order to avoid stress or anxiety. If we know how to react when we encounter a difficult context they can help us to keep calm and provide orientation.
A very effective plannning strategy is called If-then-planning.
There are studies () that show that the two simple words “if” and “then” have a surprising affect on our brain. Whereas just saying “I will do my math at 3pm” might result in you doing nothing at 3pm and remembering what you actually wanted to do at 8, saying “If (or when) it is 3pm, then I will do my math.” drastically increaes the chance that you will acutally do so. The reason for this is that this simple syntax causes a different neurological connection.
If (or when) [situation], then [behavior].
For this to work it is important to write your sentence down. It doesn’t matter if you keep the paper, or if you burn it - it’s not a talisman. The idea is that by writing your setence down you strengthen the neurological connection even more by not just thinking or saying the sentece, but “performing” it.
You can use If-Then Planning when you have to work on important to dos or need to get an assignment done. But this strategy is also useful when you know beforehand that you will have to face a emotionally or mentally challenging situation and want to react in a certain way. For example: “If I feel like I might become anxious, then I will slowly breathe in and out for ten seconds.”
If-Then Planning is also extremely helpful if you want to establish new behavioral patter, such as or !
Further resources:

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