Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: the WHO Guide to Managing Stress

Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: the WHO Guide to Managing Stress
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 25 January, 2023

Doing What Matters in Times of Stress is the title of an illustrated guide developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for managing stress. Aware that disorders associated with stress and anxiety are on the increase, this organization developed the guide with the idea that anyone can consult it and put into practice its recommendations.

The guide is based on available scientific studies as well as expert opinions. Its great value is that it offers highly targeted guidance to be implemented immediately. It also provides specific tools for dealing with stress and adversity.

The guide isn’t only extremely complete and professional but is also entertaining. Indeed, the way in which it’s written along with its illustrations means it’s designed to be read and digested in an enjoyable way. Next, we’ll give a brief summary of what this book contains.

Based on available scientific data and extensive field testing, this guide provides information and practical skills to help people cope in the face of adversity .”

-Dévora Kestel, WHO-

Stressed woman, representing the usefulness of the guide, Doing What Matters in Times of Stress
Stress appears in situations that are experienced as a threat and the individual feels they don’t have enough resources to deal with them.

A guide to managing anxiety

The Doing What Matters in Times of Stress guide is made up of five sections. Each one contains an explanation of what happens in the mind of a stressed or distressed person, along with a series of practical exercises for managing stress.

The explanation isn’t a boring treatise on psychological phenomena, but a brief exposition of essential and relevant ideas. Most attractively, throughout the guide, the mental processes of stress are linked with the practical situations of daily life. They don’t give academic definitions, but much simpler ones.

The sections of the guide are as follows.

Part 1. Grounding

This section talks about stress and how it manifests itself in people’s lives. It points out the importance of focusing your attention as a fundamental basis for managing anxiety. It also illustrates how you should do this and why you often don’t achieve it. Finally, it provides keys for escaping from a stressful situation in a short time and connecting with your life.

Part 2. Unhooking

This section talks about the negative thoughts and feelings that keep coming back, throwing you off balance in your mood and overall performance. It teaches you how to identify them and offers a step-by-step guide for disengaging with them.

Part 3. Acting on your values

Your values define the kind of person you want to be. To manage anxiety, it’s important not to lose sight of everything in which you believe which, sometimes, in stressful situations, gets pushed into the background. The guide tells you how to identify your own values and how to work to be consistent with them.

Part 4. Being kind

The guide highlights kindness as a core value. This is linked to compassion and treating yourself and others kindly. Some examples of situations that lead to a lack of kindness are given and how they negatively affect your mood.

Part 5. Making room

This section talks about the importance of living all dimensions of life fully. After all, stressful situations are invasive and leave no room for you to experience reality as a whole. You end up focusing only on the perceived threat. The guide advises on how to prevent this from happening.

Woman thinking
Exercising and acting according to our values are strategies that help manage stress.

A great contribution to life

In addition to the five sections already mentioned in Doing What Matters in Times of Stress, at the end of the booklet, there’s a summary of everything and some exercises for dealing with stress. The authors recommend reading part of the guide in your spare time and doing the exercises for at least one day before moving on. Another possibility is to read the entire book first, and then implement it, section by section.

The important thing is that you not only read the guide but also carry out the practical activities. They’re designed to help you develop fundamental skills for managing stress. As you surely know, you can’t acquire a skill if you don’t practice it. So, give yourself the opportunity to do this by reading this helpful and informative guide.

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The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.