The fours A’s and Nine Actions
To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”
Stress is a normal part of life, but when it becomes overwhelming it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health.
We can consider stressors and stress management approaches in this 4 A Approach
Stress can often be avoided by planning ahead, rearranging surroundings and carrying a lighter workload.
Approaches include the following:
Take control. Taking control of stressful, routine tasks helps to build confidence. For example, leaving earlier for work or taking a new route can ease the stress of traffic.
Avoid bothersome people. Physical distance from someone who is causing stress can relieve tension.
Say “no.” Most people have a lot of responsibilities and very little spare time. Saying “no'' to social invitations, extra responsibilities at work, or volunteer requests can be difficult, but it is often needed for personal mental health.
Prioritize a to-do list. Making a to-do list helps the mind let go of stressful thoughts regarding required tasks. Scratching an item off the to-do list can create a feeling of accomplishment.
When stressful situations cannot be avoided, behaviours, communication, and time management may need to be altered.
Approaches include the following:
Ask others to change their behaviour. Small issues often snowball and turn into huge problems. It’s okay to ask others to change bothersome behaviour; however, it’s important to listen to others about personal bothersome behaviour, too.
Communicate openly. Honesty is always the best policy. When sharing feelings, using “I” statements rather than “you” statements helps to negate any blame on the other person.
Manage time better. Grouping similar tasks together can increase efficiency, resulting in lessened stress.
State limits in advance. Prior to engaging in a long conversation, letting the other person know if time is limited avoids any hard feelings.
Many times, acceptance is the best way to avoid stress. Approaches include the following:
Talk with others. Feelings are legitimate even if frustrating situations cannot be changed. Discussing stressful situations with a friend who actively listens and understands is helpful.
Forgive others. Forgiving takes practice. Learning forgiveness releases negative energy from the mind and body.
Practice positive self-talk. Negative thoughts tend to feed off each other, creating additional negative thoughts. Positive self-talk can reduce stress and help maintain objectivity.
Learn from mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable and should be used as teachable moments rather than create feelings of self-loathing.
Adapting often involves changing expectations, which in turn, lowers stress levels. Approaches include the following:
Adjust standards. Perfection is impossible. Striving for perfection can cause feelings of frustration and guilt. Adjusting personal expectations can reduce stress.
Practice stopping bad thoughts. Negative thoughts should immediately be replaced with positive ones. Refusal to replay a stressful situation in the mind may actually cause it to be less stressful.
Reframe the issue. Looking at situations from a different viewpoint is often helpful. For example, rather than being frustrated for using a sick day from work, use the day to catch up on television programs or read a book.
Adopt mantra sayings. Mentally repeating confident sentences, such as, “I can do this,” has a positive effect on stressful situations.
Create a list of happy resources. Making a list of happy experiences, situations and thoughts can put things into perspective. Looking back on this list during a stressful situation can help calm the mind.
Look at the big picture. Figuring out if something will matter in one year or in five years is important. If it won’t, letting it go can relieve stress.
The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about your circumstances.”
If you're feeling overwhelmed by stress, here are 9 simple ways to help reduce your stress levels.
1. Make time for yourself:
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to make time for yourself each day. Whether it's taking a long walk, going to a yoga class, or simply reading for a few minutes, carving out time for yourself will help keep your stress levels in check.
2. Practice deep breathing:
Whenever you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, take a few minutes to practice deep breathing exercises. Slow, deep breaths can help relax the mind and body and reduce stress.
3. Exercise regularly:
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and boost overall health. Regular physical activity will help you stay physically and mentally fit, giving you the energy and resilience to handle stressful situations.
4. Spend time in nature:
Spending time in nature has been linked to improved mood and reduced stress. Whether it's a walk in the park or a day at the beach, reconnecting with nature is a great way to de-stress.
5. Get enough sleep:
Sleep is essential for managing stress levels and overall health. Make sure you're getting enough rest each night and your body will be better equipped to handle whatever life throws your way.
6. Eat healthy:
Eating the right foods can help reduce stress. A diet high in processed foods and sugary snacks can lead to a slump in energy levels and an increase in stress. Be sure to focus on eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
7. Talk to someone:
Don't keep your stress bottled up inside. Talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor can be a great way to let off some steam and gain a fresh perspective on your situation.
8. Make time for fun:
Taking time to do things you enjoy can help reduce stress and lift your spirits. Whether it's playing sports, playing an instrument, or just hanging out with friends, having fun can be a great way to take a break from your worries.
9. Try yoga or meditation:
Yoga and meditation can be incredibly effective in reducing stress and calming the mind. Even if you only have 10 minutes a day to spare, a few minutes of yoga or mindfulness can help clear your mind.
The best way to manage stress is to prioritize self-care.
That means taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals and snacks, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Additionally, it can be helpful to maintain a regular mindfulness practice, such as mindfulness meditation, to help you better recognize and manage stressful situations. Lastly, if your stress levels become unmanageable, it can be beneficial to speak to a therapist or mental health professional about the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing.
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