Stress can pop up when you least expect it. The Mayo Clinic has some advice on the best way to deal with stress, calling it “the 4 A’s of Stress Management”. Whether it’s a joyous event like a marriage or the birth of child, or a negative experience like death or an illness, the 4 A’s can help many of us cope better. They are: avoid, alter, accept or adapt.

  1. Avoid.  Stress can be avoided by taking control of your surroundings. Does your young child get cranky with lack of sleep? Move up her bedtime ritual. Do you have a co-worker that makes you cringe? Try to avoid her in the break room and sit farther away from her in meetings. One of the best tips is to avoid taking on too many projects and learn to say “no”.
  2. Alter. Because you can’t avoid all stressors, “altering” your interactions may help. A co-worker talks incessantly? Politely tell him you only have 5 minutes of time. Dealing with a rude family member? Communicate your feelings about him/her to hopefully alter the way you both interact. Working to alter behaviors, either your own or by expressing feelings to others about theirs, will be a step in the right direction.
  3. Accept. Talking with a dear friend, a therapist, or anyone that you trust will help alleviate the stress. We all know it takes more energy to be angry, so accepting someone for who they are (or a situation for what it is) can be helpful when dealing with stress. We all hope that we learn and grow everyday, so acceptance can be somewhat of a relief.
  4. Adapt. It may be time to change your expectations! None of us can do all things at once, and be everything to everybody. It may be time to take a break, slow down, and ask “will this matter to anyone in 5 years”? Take relief in the fact that your house doesn’t always need to be spotless and your kids don’t always need to be the best at every sport. If you start to think negative thoughts, stop them immediately and focus on the positive things in your life because it’s a healthier way to live.