Practice the 4 A’s of Stress Management

While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise from expected situations such as meeting monthly work targets or driving during rush hours traffic jam.

When facing such predictable situations, you can do one of two things:; either change the situation or change your reaction to the situation.

Remember the four A’s: Avoid, Alter, Adapt or Accept.

1)   Avoid unnecessary stress

Although it is not possible to avoid all stressful situations, there are a number of unnecessary stressors in life that you can reduce

  • Learn how to say “NO”. Know your limits, be it your professional or personal life, and avoid taking on more than you can manage
  • Take control of your environment. If you get stress being stuck in a morning traffic jam, try to leave home earlier to avoid the traffic
  • Plan your to-do list. List down your schedule, daily tasks and deadlines. If you have got too much on your plate, prioritise the tasks which are most important

2)    Alter the situation

Alter the situation if you can’t avoid it. This often involves changing the way you communicate and carry out your daily life.

  • Express your feelings instead of keeping your emotions locked inside. If someone or something is bothering you, be assertive and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If your colleagues are chatting and you can’t work, tell them off in a polite manner. If you don’t voice out how you feel, resentment will build up inside causing stress
  • Be willing to compromise. If you and your partner are constantly arguing, both of you have to compromise to change each other’s’ behaviour in order to find a happy middle ground
  • Start a balanced schedule. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Find a balance between work and personal time

3)    Adapt to the stressor

Adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

  • Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than raging at a traffic jam, switch on your favourite music and enjoy the moment
  • Adjust your expectations and standards. Stop being a perfectionist and set too high expectations for yourself. Set reasonable standards within achievable limits
  • Practice gratitude and love yourself. When you’re breaking down, take a moment to reflect on all the great things you appreciate in life such as people you love and your own positive qualities

4)    Accept the things you can’t change

In certain stressful situations, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things the way it is. Death of loved ones, illnesses or financial recession is unavoidable situations.

Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than fighting against a situation you can’t change.

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. A lot of things in life are outside of your control especially the behaviour of people. Choose to change your reaction towards them instead of stressing out over them
  • Positive view. When you are faced with challenges in life, look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If you’ve done a mistake which has contributed to the stressful situation, reflect and learn from it.
  • Learn to forgive. No one is perfect and people make mistakes. Overcome your anger and resentment by forgiving and moving on.
  • Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted family member or friend about your stressful situation

Sometimes all you need is just a helping hand to find the path to a healthy and happy life.  Do not hesitate to speak to a psychologist or counsellor to guide you out of your feeling of stress.


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