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Problem Solving Skills For Life And Dealing With Stress 

Problem solving skills doesn’t sound like a particularly hard thing to do or learn but it actually is.

It doesn’t come naturally to many of us, instead we go from one crisis to another simply fire fighting as we go along. As you know this can soon lead to stress and ill health.

These skills are at the basis of several different therapies the main one being CBT or Cognitive behavioral therapy.

You may find it helpful to attend one of these counseling sessions to guide you through the basic technique of problem solving at first.

Problem Solving Skills and Stress

Stress as discussed before is often actually caused by the way we approach or think about certain situations.

We almost encourage stress to become a part of our every day lives. Now we do not do this consciously of course but it can become a habit hard to break.

Problem solving skills give you the tools in coping with stress on a daily basis and as it happen.

It challenges each situation and allows you to stand back and get a clearer picture of what is causing you the stress and whether or not your reaction is correct or not.

The Problem Solving Skills

The actual process of learning these skills is quite straight forward and not difficult to pick up but they do require practice every day until they become second nature.

Here Are The Basic Steps

1. Identify the cause of your stress – Take a pen and paper and write down the problem. Actually giving it a name makes it much clearer in your mind. Be as specific as you can, really pin down the actual cause. Now look at your problem and ask yourself some questions about it.

Can I do anything about this problem myself?


Can I change the way I think about this problem, see the problem through someone else’s view point, this often helps.


Is this problem that I simply have to accept? Acceptance of something allows you to move on past it and get on with the rest of your life. Dwelling or worrying about things, stops you moving on and causes stress.

2. Create possible solutions – If you have decided that the cause of your stress can be changed i.e. options a or b, it is time to put your problem solving skills to the test and write a list of all the possible solutions which could make the situation better.

Be as creative as you can, look at the problem from every possible angle, even write down some way out solutions, you may actually come up with something you wouldn’t normally have thought of.

3. Filter your ideas -  now go through each solution you have written down and ask yourself thee questions about each one:

  • Is this solution realistically possible?
  • Could I achieve this or not
  • Can I afford this?
  • How would it affect others if I chose this solution?

Be as honest as you can with yourself as you ask these questions. Wishful thinking will not help with dealing with stress it may just add to it in the long run.

Once you have narrowed down your list to achievable solutions, chose one which you can try to put into practice first.

If it works, great! If not, move on to the next option. Keep going until you find something which helps you to cope with stress and get on with your life.

This may sound all too simple but it is amazing just how difficult implementing problem solving skills can be and that by exploring the possible solutions it can be surprising as to the solutions we come up with.

If We Can’t Change It, Accept It!

This is not a defeatist remark it is a stress busting one. We can’t always change what is causing us stress, that’s just the way some things are. For instance you cannot change someone else, but you can make your life less stressful if you simply come to the conclusion that “hey that’s the way they are”.

By simply accepting that, you take the weight off of your shoulders.

Remember The Serenity Prayer?

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.

› Problem Solving