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Stress Management Techniques for a Calmer Life

By Ben Brafman

Stress management plays an important role in how effectively we're able to combat stress and other anxieties we experience in our everyday lives. We all have things that stress us out, be it bills piling up, an upcoming deadline at work or problems at home, and we all deal with those stresses differently. Stress levels that aren't healthily managed and worked on are capable of wreaking havoc on our minds, bodies, emotions and behaviors. The key word mentioned in the previous sentence is healthily, as Americans especially are notorious for utilizing unhealthy tactics to combat their stress like smoking, drinking and abusing pills and drugs to name a few.

Since avoiding stress altogether is just not reasonable, it's imperative that we all learn and practice effective stress management techniques so we don't become overwhelmed with anxiety and consumed with worry. Nonprofit organization Help Guide offers some insight on healthy ways to deal with stressful situations by utilizing their "Four A's: Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept."

Stress Management Using the Four A's

Avoid- Avoid unnecessary stress. This is not advising you to avoid all stress in your life as again, that's not possible nor is it healthy. For example, a large part of effective stress management is knowing your limits and when you're close to reaching them. When you have a full plate, you have to learn how to say "no" to taking on additional responsibilities that you're unable to handle. This could be at work, home or even in your social life. If there are people, circumstances or even topics of conversation that are hot-button issues for you, either limit the amount of time you're exposed to them or avoid them entirely.

Alter- Alter the situation. If a stressful situation is unavoidable, think of different ways you can alter it so it doesn't continue to come up and provide you with excess stress. Many of us are guilty of bottling our feelings up and not being open and honest about things that upset us. The longer we go without expressing how we feel the more resentment builds up inside us. A great stress management technique is simply voicing our feelings as a method of altering the situation. Honesty can lead to understanding, which can lead to compromise, which can lead to reaching a happy middle ground for all.

Adapt- Adapt to the stressor. If you can't change the situation or individual that is causing you stress, change how you respond to it. Start by reframing the problem in a more positive light. Give yourself some perspective by looking at the big picture. Is this something that's still going to matter in a day, a month, a year etc? One of the most effective forms of stress management is to focus on all of the positive things you have going on in your life. The simple act of taking some time to breathe and be reflective and thankful for all the good in your life can be incredibly calming and help you keep things in perspective, while not sweating the small stuff.

Accept- Accept the things you cannot change. One of the hardest things for us as individuals to do is to accept the fact that we can't control everything as it can make us feel powerless against the things that cause us grief. That said, achieving this acceptance and stopping your efforts to control things out of our control can be incredibly empowering and another important focus of stress management. Accept the fact that you cannot control the behavior of another person but you can control the manner in which you let it affect you and react to it. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Accepting that people are going to mess up from time to time and choosing to let go of lingering anger and resentment is another great way to free yourself from unnecessary stress.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful! stress relief