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Allergy Anxiety & Stress Management Tool: The 5x5 Rule

stressed mom and child

Did you know that you can use the perspective of time to help you decide how deeply to engage with an unhelpful or uncomfortable thought, feeling, or decision, and that time can help you look at things from a different point of view?

Here's how to use the 5x5 rule to help you gain space between yourself and unhelpful or stressful thoughts and decisions...

Start by asking yourself:

  • How much will this matter to me in 5 hours?

  • How much will this matter to me in 5 days? 

  • How much will this matter to me in 5 weeks? 

  • How much will this matter to me in 5 years?

Asking yourself these questions helps gain perspective on how important the thought you're having or decision you're struggling with is - just how much impact it will truly have on your life.

Something that's pretty minor (even though it's stressing you out currently) likely won't matter to you 5 days, 5 weeks, or 5 years from now. In that case, give yourself 5 minutes to think about it. In that time, you're going to allow yourself to connect with all the thoughts and feelings you're having, and then once that 5 minutes is over, you'll make a decision that will help you move forward, and/or remind yourself that you're done thinking about that topic because it's not worth more of your energy. 

If what you're anxious or stressed about is a more major decision that might matter to you in 5 weeks or 5 years from now, then it's appropriate to feel more stressed and anxious about it. In that case, give yourself a specific amount of time to think about it, but then set it aside and come back to it at another point in the future. By doing this, it allows you to take a break from it, but commit to revisiting it at a time when you may be able to process it differently. 

Here's another approach for using the 5x5 rule...

Ask yourself:

  • Will I see this differently in 5 hours? 

  • Will I see this differently in 5 days?

  • Will I see this differently in 5 weeks?

  • Will I see this differently in 5 years?

Maybe you're stressed about all of the allergy-safe cooking you have to do for the week ahead. Yes, that may still feel stressful in 5 hours, but will you see it differently in 5 days? Probably! You'll likely feel better in 5 days because you prepared meals today! In that case, remind yourself that you'll be able to see this as helpful once you're removed from the situation, so don't spend too much time overly engaged in the stress you're currently feeling.

When you ask yourself these questions, also think about the following...

  • Did it help you decide that the situation you're stressed about doesn't need to take up so much of your energy? 

  • Did you gain a new perspective on why you struggle with a particular thought or decision? 

  • Did you notice a release of physical stress and anxiety when you looked at the stressful thought or decision differently?

Looking for videos on perspective-taking approaches to help build these skills for your anxiety management toolkit (allergy-related or otherwise)?

 Check these videos out:


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