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September 2014 – Avoid Stress

With fall officially starting this month, holidays are fast approaching.  For the rest of this year, each month will be directed to one of the four a’s of stress reduction.  I use the four a’s in my coaching and my own life.  In many situations they have helped me tremendously.

  • 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 often don’t think of avoid as a strategy.  Avoid does not always work, but it is worth looking at avoiding the stressor.  For example if your job is your main source of stress, you might need an income so you can’t avoid work.  Or if  you know you need another position, it might be a while until you find another job.  You can take breaks.  Do you have CTYD syndrome?  I have had CTDY (Chained To Your Desk) syndrome.  Some of the people I coach don’t take a break for hours.  We think that more time devoted to a task will make us more efficient, that is not true.  Recent studies show we are more productive when we take breaks.  Your body needs to move.  We were not designed to sit all day and your eyes also need a break.

Traffic is a major stressor for many people.  Can you take a different route?  It might take longer but it might be worth reducing your stress.  I am an arranger so I like to drive the shortest distance on a map.  Going the long way used to upset me.  One place I worked was 12 minutes from home on the freeway without traffic.  Traffic was an unknown and in bad weather it could be an hour drive to work and that stressed me out.  I discovered a route to work on side streets that went right by two lakes.  It was almost always a 25 minute drive no matter what the weather.  It added more time to my commute on some days.  It was more consistent and a beautiful drive and it greatly reduced my stress.

Avoid people who are creating stress.  I first start by sending compassion to those people who still stress me out (see the meditation newsletter).  Again you can’t always avoid people.  If I am very stressed out I know there are people I need to avoid for a while until I feel more calm.  Do you remember someone telling you if someone says something upsets you slowly count to 10 before you respond?  That is also using the avoiding strategy for a few seconds to regroup.  Avoid can be useful in any situation where you might make a rash decision or say something you regret later.

For your Holiday stress, can you shop on-line?  If that is not your style, can you start your shopping now to avoid the crowds during the holidays.  I try to buy presents at craft fairs during the year to avoid the stress of last minute shopping.  If you are entertaining it might be worth it to buy some prepared food from a deli or caterer.  Saying no is part of avoiding the stressor.  Do you have to go to every party?  That is a hard one for me, but now I don’t go to as many events in December.

You do have to be careful with the avoid strategy.  Let’s say a close family member was controlling and a micro-manager and you never dealt with that issue.  So you realize your boss is very controlling and a micro-manager.  You get a new job with a wonderful boss who gives you freedom in your work.  Then that perfect person is promoted and your new boss is again a controlling and a micro-manger.  I feel this could be the Universe telling you “I am going to give you this situation until you get it right.”  I always look at patterns in my life before I use avoid as an option.

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