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The 4 A's of Stress Reduction

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Article adapted from:

AVOID unnecessary stress

  • Learn to say “NO” by being assertive (see below) and set clear boundaries

  • Stay away from people who stress you out

  • Take control of stress inducing triggers (e.g. turn off the news)

  • Prioritise your ‘to-do’ list to cut down on feeling overwhelmed

  • Remember your WHY (purpose) or your values.

  • Does what you need to do serve or fit with those values? If no, say no.

ADAPT to the stressor

  • Reframe the problem or change your mindset or perspective from “why does this happen TO me?” (a victim mindset where things are out of your control) to "this is happening FOR me" (ask yourself how will this help me learn, grow or develop self-awareness. This is a growth mindset that is open to learning from the experience)

  • Look at the big picture (will it matter tomorrow, next week, next month)

  • Adjust your standards (aim for progress, not perfection)

  • If you can’t change the stressor, change the way you react or respond to it. For example, take 5 deep breaths and then respond; notice your thoughts and check in with yourself to see if they are true or not before responding

  • Focus on the positive and practice gratitude ~ What am I thankful for today? What is going well in my life? What do I do well? What do I like about myself? What are my strengths?

ALTER the situation

Express your feelings rather than bottling them up - use ASSERTIVE language using 'DESC':

  • DESCRIBE the situation (e.g. when you talk to me in a loud voice)

  • EXPRESS how it makes you feel (e.g. it makes me feel very scared and threatened)

  • SPECIFY what you would like (e.g. I would like it if you could use a quieter voice)

  • Outline the CONSQUENCES (e.g. because then I would feel less scared, I feel like I could communicate better with you and not feel like I have to leave)


  • Be willing to compromise – be willing to change your behaviour too

  • Manage your time so you plan ahead, prioritise tasks and avoid over-committing yourself

ACCEPT what you can’t change

  • Learn to identify what is in your control (internal locus of control) and what is not (external locus of control) and then focus on the things in your control (e.g. the way you choose to react to a situation or person)

  • Learn to forgive by accepting that people make mistakes and that people are not perfect. Forgiveness releases you from the negative feelings that come from being wronged and allow you to move forward and to heal by letting go of toxic emotions and actions.

  • Talk it out with a trusted family member, friend or professional like a holistic health coach, counsellor or psychologist.

  • Accept the way you are, practice self-compassion and choose where to focus your thoughts because ‘what we resist, persists’ or 'what we focus on, becomes"

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