Stress Management at Work: Try the 4 A’s
Are you coping with stress at work? Try the 4 A’s of stress management!
Build your stress management toolbox by learning four coping strategies: avoid, alter, accept, and adapt
Too much stress can make life difficult. When your stress level is particularly high, you need to restore balance in one of two ways: by reducing the stressors or increasing your ability to cope. During times when you feel overwhelmed, use one of the four A’s of stress management: avoid, alter, adapt, and accept.
Believe it or not, you can simply avoid a lot of stress. In order to do that, you need to assess to see how the stressful situation affects you. Once you’ve established that, take control of your surroundings. Avoid people who bother you—if there is someone who gets on your nerves, put physical distance between the two of you. Most importantly—and perhaps, my favorite rule of stress management: learn to say no. Time is the most precious commodity of stress management. Make a list and prioritize your responsibilities, and drop the least important responsibilities from your list.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid the stressful situation. In those instances, one of the most helpful things you can do instead is to try and alter the situation. For this, communication is key. Communivate your feelings openly, honestly, and respectfully. Ask others to change their behavior—and be willing to do the same. And state time limits in advance in a polite manner.
Sometimes, we have no other choice than to accept things the way they are. There’s nothing you can do to change the stressful situation. But you can change yourself and how you react.
Adapting—which often involves changing your standards or expectations—can be very helpful in dealing with stress. The key to adapting to stressful situations is to change your mindset. Try to reframe the issue by looking at your situation from a new viewpoint; turn frustrations into opportunities. And don’t forget to consider the big picture. Ask yourself if the stressful situation will matter in the long term—the answer is usually, ‘no.’ Realizing this makes a stressful situation seem less overwhelming. Put things in perspective and remember life’s joys instead of replaying negative situations over and over.
Finally, some situations simply won’t chance—no matter how much you want them to change. Accepting this will help keep your stress under control. You’ll be much more effective when you put your time and energy into the things you can control. You may not be able to change a frustrating situation, but that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t legitimate. In those circumstances, sometimes it’s best to talk about it with an understanding friend. Practice forgiveness to free yourself from the energy it takes to be angry. Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts and practice positive self-talk; it’s easy to lose objectivity when you are stressed. And finally, learn from your mistakes, and embrace the value in recognizing a teachable moment.
Good and bad stressors are a part of everyday life for everyone. Practice applying the 4 ‘A’s’—Avoid, Alter, Adapt, and Accept—to cope with your stress.