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Stress Management Strategies

4A’s — Stress Management Strategies

I love happy faces 🙂

You have one life, and you would like to live without stress. But all of us know it’s easier said than done. Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing you can do about it but deal with it. I was always puzzled and could not stop myself from worrying about the situation. I was introduced to 4 A’s to manage Stress and started applying these strategies in situations. Well, not all situations are the same, and there is no one answer to solve any problem.

Stress is not always bad; we need to know how to manage stress and keep it healthy. To understand stress you need to understand self-awareness and social awareness. Be it Emotional Intelligence (EQ) or 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey, achieving self-awareness and social awareness helps to manage your emotions better and helps you make a better decision. There are many techniques which you can use to manage stress, I have personally found 4 As have helped me to learn a lot.

The 4 As — Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept — are useful strategies to deal with Stress and these strategies are well achieved with EQ — social awareness and self-awareness. Managing the 4 A’s also provides you a way for better negotiation, and it takes practice.

“Awareness is the tip of the day.”

When you’re in stress, get going. Most important is to know your stress and understand your emotions. Stress can cause severe health problems, and it’s important to understand your stress and get help. Our levels of stress are not the same, and each one of us have different ways to deal with it. While you develop emotional intelligence, it’s also essential to maintain your health. Adding ½ hour exercise will bring in a good change .

The four A’s — Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept

Avoid

First time I heard about “Avoid”. I said ,“ I don’t want to avoid anything and I want to face it.”

Say NO. It’s not healthy to avoid stress as it might come back and bite you hard. But we can eliminate stress. It’s important to understand — “is the stress beneficial to you and is it important?” At the same time, you should know when to say “No.” It can be personal or professional; you should know how much is your limit. It’s okay to say no. I had the challenge of answering “No” to people in the fear of what they would think of me and ended up taking on too much stress. Saying “No” is important and let the other person know why are you saying NO.

Always keep a tab on your schedule, daily routines and responsibilities. I manage the everyday with a prioritized to-do list. Sometimes it must be ruthless prioritization, and you have to learn to drop unnecessary things from your plate and delegate the tasks.

Alter

Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid stress, but it could be altered. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate with your situation. Don’t control the situation — particularly behavior of the other people. Most crucial is to focus on the thing which you can control, that’s YOU.

Be open in your communication. Let’s say you are already working hard on your deadline which has been slow due to various external factors. You’re asked by your manager to take up another task which you cannot accommodate. Instead of saying “Yes” and not doing well in both, you can talk to your manager and let her/him know the situation. Communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way, also be willing to compromise. There will be a middle ground for any situation. Add some fun to your daily routine or to-do list.

Adapt

Look at the bigger picture. Every challenge has a potential opportunity for growth. If you have made poor choices, learn from them.

“Perfection is the enemy of the good.”

In order to make things things perfect, we end up adding stress to life. Instead of feeling frustrated, look at it as an opportunity to learn and relax.

I used to travel 21 km for work every day, and there used to be a junction where I used to spend 20 minutes in the signal. Everything comes to a stop for 20 minutes. The frustration and stress used to build high. I could not leave early since I had other priorities at home to finish before I start to work. I started carrying small books and got into the reading habit. I could have 20 minutes of reading time without being disturbed :). I had been thinking on setting a goal of reading daily and this helped me to get back to reading. Now I don’t travel 21 km to work, but every day I read for a dedicated ½ hour.

Accept

Well, accepting is a tricky part of the game. While there many situations I have accepted, to be honest not all. But I have learned a lot, and it takes time and I have accepted that.

The most important part of acceptance according to me is to share your feelings. Bottling up will only cause stress. There is nothing you can do when you lose someone who is dear to you. Talk to your friend or family and share your feelings. Sometimes some of the disagreements cause a lot of stress. Letting go of the anger will keep you from negative feelings. Acceptance is an important step to self awareness and helps you to learn from your mistakes.

“Keeping a personal journal a daily in-depth analysis and evaluation of your experiences is a high-leverage activity that increases self-awareness and enhances all the endowments and the synergy among them.” — Stephen R.Covey

I found journaling daily is the most powerful habit to acquire. It helped me to have clarity of emotions and increased focus. Most importantly I started to learn to accept and appreciate. I maintain two journals. The most important journal – my daily journal, I write three good things everyday. It could be as simple as drinking the best tea. My other journal — I call it a resiliency journal. I use the resiliency journal to dump my feelings, especially when I’m feeling low or stressed. I write how I feel even if its the smallest feeling and I write without any judgments. Sometimes I go back and read them, I find them insightful. Some of the assumptions I made due to stress and fear are not true and are funny too. I have learned from every situation and it has helped me grow.

And finally, managing the stress levels is all up to you and you have to learn. You need to own it .

You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

~Swami Vivekananda