Kick Stress to the Curb (Part One)

Stress can have an enormous impact on your health!

Learning to manage stress is one of the greatest ways to improve your health and to supercharge your energy level. It is also one of the most difficult things for most people to do.

The truth is that if you didn’t have any stress in your life you probably wouldn’t get a whole lot done. Pressures and looming deadlines can be highly effective motivators to get people moving. Without deadlines, most projects would never get started…and certainly not finished.

But like most things, too much of a good thing can quickly turn bad. And too much stress is a recipe for disaster!

I am not going to spend page after page telling you why having too much stress is bad for you. You already know this.

The reality is that you can never eliminate stress from your life. You will always have deadlines and obligations in one form or another. The trick is to not let the pressure of stress get to you. The key is to realize the stressors are there, but to not let them affect you.

It may seem like wishful thinking or simply impossible, but once you learn how to neutralize the effects of stress caused by life’s obligations, you will never be a victim of them again.

Having said that, here is a tool you can use to manage stress.

The Mayo Clinic has a program you can use to manage stress called the 4 A’s.

Here’s how it works…

The first A is to AVOID. It may seem like common sense, but if something is stressing you, try to avoid it. If at all possible, get yourself out of the situation.

Since avoiding the things that cause you stress may not always be an option, the second A is to ALTER.

For example, if your car is making a funny noise and it is driving you crazy (no pun intended) get the car fixed. If somebody is bothering you or making noise in your office, ask them to stop.

Sometimes altering may not be a reality either, so the third A is to ACCEPT.

By accepting, you recognize the situation “is what it is” and you agree you will not let it have power over you.

I learned an incredibly simple, yet powerful concept many years ago that has really helped me in life.

I learned that you cannot control other people (or circumstances)… BUT you can control how you react to them. While the stressor may still be there, you don’t need to let it have control over you.

This is often very useful when dealing with personal conflicts with overbearing co-workers or family members.

The fourth A is to ADAPT. So for example, if your office environment is noisy and it bothers you, get a set of noise-canceling headphones and listen to some music to drown out the noise. Or get a sound machine or desktop fountain to create a more soothing noise instead.

Again, those are the 4 A’s. They can be an effective technique to help you to avoid stressors before they take control of your life.

I bet I know what you are thinking…”Those sound great, but they won’t work for me.”

I know that these things may seem easier said than done, but realize this. All of the anxiety or stress we feel from a situation or event is actually created in our mind, not by the event itself.

If you had a fight with a coworker or boss, if you crashed your car, if you [enter any event here], the event may have happened, but the stress, anxiety or other feelings you are experiencing are not being created by the event…they are created by the meaning you have in your mind ABOUT the event.

Once you understand this, stress won’t be able to stop you from achieving anything.

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