February 12th, 2018
Stress is a key trigger in Adrenal Fatigue so reducing your stress is the single most important step on your road to restoring adrenal health and recovery. Effective stress management starts with identifying your sources of stress so you can develop strategies to manage them.
Add these four strategies for coping with stress to your stress management toolkit: avoid, alter, accept and adapt:
1. Avoid The Stressor
You will not be able to avoid all the stressors in your life, and it’s unhealthy to avoid situations that need to be addressed. But you may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate by doing the following:
- Learn how to say “no”. Whether in your personal or professional life, know your limits and stick to them. When you are close to reaching your limits simply refuse to accept added responsibilities. Taking on more than you can handle will surely stress you out.
- Avoid people who stress you out. If someone always causes stress in your life and you are unable to turn this around, you can either limit the amount of time you spend with that person or for your own health you can end the relationship entirely.
- Take control of your environment. Does the evening news make you feel stressed? Turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, leave home or the office earlier.
- Avoid hot-button topics. If politics or religion upsets you, take them off your conversation list. If you keep arguing about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion. Or even better, agree to disagree!
- Cut down on your to-do list. Analyze your responsibilities, schedule, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much going on, distinguish between the “should” and the “musts.” Tasks that aren’t truly necessary can be ranked lowest or eliminated entirely from your list.
2. Alter The Stressor
Now let’s discuss the 2nd “A” of the stress management coping strategies. You can’t always avoid a stressful situation, so if this is the case at the very least you should try to alter it if possible. Think about what you can do to change the situation so the problem doesn’t occur again in the future. Typically this involves changing the way you communicate and carry yourself in your daily life. Examples are:
- Expressing your feelings instead of bottling them up. If a particular situation or person is bothering you, share your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t express your feelings, annoyance will build and the situation will likely remain the same.
- Be willing to compromise. If you ask a person to change his behavior, you should also be willing to do the same (at least a little) to find middle ground. You can also find middle ground in terms of dieting. You can allow yourself a cheatmeal occasionally, or snack on “healthier” foods (walnuts, cashews, dark chocolate).
- Being more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Express yourself clearly, stand up for yourself and your point of view, while at the same time respecting the beliefs and rights of others.
- Managing your time better. Poor time management can bring about a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to keep your calm and stay focused. But by putting your time management skills to use you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.
3. Adapt To The Stressor
The third stress coping strategy is the following: If you can’t avoid the situation or alter the situation, you can change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
- Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Instead of fuming about a traffic jam, see it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite audiobook or podcast, do your breathing exercises, or enjoy some alone time.
- Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
- Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a huge, and unfortunately very common, source of avoidable stress. There is no such thing as”perfect”, so stop setting yourself up for failure by chasing perfection. Set reasonable standards for others and yourself, and if you want to raise the bar, go for “excellent” instead.
- Focus on the positive. In times when stress is taking you down, take a moment to write out all the things you are appreciative of in your life. This means also your own positive qualities and gifts. This little exercise will help you see things in perspective.
4. Accept The Situation
This brings us to the last coping strategy of the 4 A’s. In some situations none of the other coping strategies (avoid, adjust, adapt) will work. These are situations that occur in our lives naturally such as death of a loved one and illness. Accepting such a situation may be difficult, but it’s the only way out. Events such as death are uncontrollable and the best way to deal with them is through acceptance and forgiveness. When facing major challenges such as these in life, try to see them as opportunities for personal growth.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Instead of stressing out over them, focus on the things that are within your control, like the way you choose to react to problems.
- Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This is another great one: ”I either win or learn. I never lose”. When you face major challenges, try to see them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own bad decisions contributed to a stressful situation, review your decisons and learn from your mistakes.
- Share your feelings. Talk to a close friend or schedule an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very freeing, even if you can’t alter the stressful situation.
- Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
In summary: You can learn to manage a great part of your stress by taking each stressor and asking yourself, “Can I avoid (or reduce) it, can I alter it, can I adapt to it, or do I need to learn to accept it?” Try not to worry about things over which you have no control over, so that you have no energy left to control the things you can. Once you understand the “avoid (or reduce), alter, adapt, or accept” concept and start putting it into practice you will be able to deal much better with stressful situations.
How can you manage each of your stresses better? Or in other words, how can you apply the 4As to your list of stresses?