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October 2014 – Alter Stress

This month will provide more background on the four a’s of stress reduction with alter the stressor.  I use the four a’s in my coaching and my own life.  In many situations they have helped me tremendously.  Here is the link to the website page if you want to look at the first a – avoid the stessor.  Click here

  • Avoid the stressor
  • Alter something about the stressor
  • Adapt the way you think about the stressor or my addition is to adapt your lifestyle to help you cope
  • Accept the stressor and let go

When we are in a stress spiral we also may not think of alter as a strategy. Looking at your job, can you change anything that would make it less stressful?  How about your work hours?  Interruptions at work create stress.  Can you work at a time when others are not around to get organized and plan or work on a project?  Time management techniques are a great example of altering the stressor.  Type up your final notes during a meeting not after.  It might be worth asking if a deadline can be moved.  Though when I was a manager in Corporate America, that never worked too well for me.  In many work environments, due to cut backs, there is less we can alter.  At home if you have errands try to group where you go in the same general location.  Create a meal plan weekly and have a set shopping list to avoid extra trips to the store.

Traffic is a major stressor for many people.  Using the avoid method in traffic would be either not driving or taking a different route.  Altering the traffic stressor would be driving the same route at a different time with less traffic.

Communication is a huge part of altering stress.  Ask people to change rather than avoiding them.  Alway remember to discuss the issue not the person by using “I” statements.  For example, you have a friend you find stressful to be around as they always interrupt.  Rather than saying “You are so inconsiderate you always only think about yourself and what you want to say.”  Say something like “I know you are excited to tell me your point of view and I want to hear it.  However, I feel you are not listening to me when you interrupt me.”  Also, often just talking to someone about our stress reduces our stress.  Of course there is that fine line going into a whine.  You need to find that balance between expressing your stress and then taking action instead of constant complaints.  When we have been talking about the same stressor for months or even years we might need to make a change.

Asking for help is also a part of alter the stressor.  Using the Holidays as an example, avoiding would be saying I’m just not going to celebrate this year.  Altering would be asking for help with the cooking or shopping.  If they have the time, most people want to help.  Most of us get satisfaction from helping others.  Out of all the “a’s” this one the asking for help is still difficult for me.  I constantly have to tell myself, it does not hurt to ask.  Asking is not a sign of weakness.  Also, if you plan asking your request within a reasonable amount of time for the person to help you will get better results.  Asking someone to bring over a dish the night before your Holiday meal might not get you the results you want.  Next month will cover adapting.