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The 4 A’s: Dealing With Stressful Situations

 

Life can be really stressful! And if you are starting something new like a spring college semester or a new job, it can feel really overwhelming as you juggle responsibilities and trying to manage your time.

A good strategy for managing stress is using the 4 A’s: AVOID unnecessary stress, ALTER the stressful situations, ADAPT to the stressor and ACCEPT the things you can’t change.

AVOID Unnecessary Stress

Not all stress can be avoided and, actually, it really isn’t healthy to avoid the situations in your life that cause you stress. But, you may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

  • Learn how to say “no” – know your limits and stick to them. Whether it’s your personal, academic or work life, don’t take on more than you can handle.
  • Avoid the people who stress you out! Hang out with friends that help you have fun!
  • Narrow down your to-do list: Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you feel like you have too much on your plate, figure out the things you “should” do as compared to what you “must” do. Then push the “shoulds” to the bottom of the list and get started on the “musts.” And don’t get too stressed if your “shoulds” don’t get done until the next day.

ALTER The Stressful Situation

If you cannot avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem or stressor doesn’t present itself in the future.

  • Express your feelings when you feel stressed, overwhelmed or frustrated. This applies to parents, siblings, friends, roommates or co-workers. If something is bothering you, communicating your concerns in an open and respectful manner can help the situation.
  • Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you are both willing to bend at least a little, you will have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.
  • Manage your time well. Plan ahead and make sure not to overextend yourself, especially if it’s your first semester at college or your first few weeks at a new job.

ADAPT To The Stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, try and change your reaction. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

  • Try to view the stressful situation from a more positive perspective – aim to try to think of it as a learning opportunity for future stressful situations.
  • Look at the big picture, and try to put the stressful situation into perspective. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run? Will it matter in a month? A year? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere!
  • Focus on the positive – staying optimistic in stressful situations makes them a whole lot easier to get through!

ACCEPT The Things You Can’t Change

Some sources of stress are simply unavoidable.

  • Don’t try and control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behaviors of others. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on what you can control such as the way you choose to react to them.
  • Look for the upside – new experiences like college or a new job are just one big learning experience. Take advantage of the chance to learn something new even if it does come with a little bit of stress now and then!

When you are feeling stressed, sometimes just talking to someone in itself can be helpful. Talking with a parent, friend, trusted adult, or Life Coach when you are feeling overwhelmed is a great strategy for clearing your mind and helping you to feel more centered.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.