This technique was first proposed by the Mayo Clinic*, but has since been used in various forms by therapists, coaches, physicians and laypeople around the world. A simple, structured approach to anxiety is like using a lifeboat in the storm of stress and excessive thinking.
You just need to remember four techniques: remember, adapt, accept and adjust. It can be comforting to know that in reality there are only these four methods of dealing with everyday stress.
You can say ‘no’
The first thing you need to do is abstain. It may seem trivial, but it is possible to overcome many problems in life. We can’t control everything, but we can create conditions that prevent us from encountering stressful environments or people. Frankly, we can see that most daily stress is intentional and we don’t have to accept it! (…)
When you avoid stress, you don’t run away from your obligations or deny real problems. You simply learn to say ‘no’ to unnecessary and harmful stress. We always have the opportunity to say ‘no’ to situations and people that demand too much of us and our resources. These require a lot of mental energy and attention, but also time. If one element of your life takes up all your time, you can say ‘no’.
Go through your to-do list and eliminate the two or three non-urgent, non-priority items. Delegate certain tasks or let someone else take over responsibility for them. You don’t have to do everything! So the next time the prospect of a stressful event arises, ask yourself, “Can I just avoid this situation?” » If so, do it.
Make your wishes known
If you can’t do this, you may need to find ways to change this situation, that is, adapt. You always have the option to ask others to change their behavior. (…) It is impossible to avoid all of life’s stressors, but that is often the case our say about the state of affairs. Talk to people, negotiate and use the pronoun ‘I’ to express your needs and wants. (…)
If you can’t avoid a stressor, ask yourself what you can do to adjust it. If your answer is “a little bit”, maybe you should take it a step further and accept it.
Accept the situation
How can you accept a situation you don’t like? First of all, if you hate her, you hate her. Acceptance doesn’t mean pretending you don’t feel what you feel; rather, it’s about recognizing that it’s okay to feel this way. Recognize your own emotions and control them. (…)
If this is a situation where you have been wronged, acceptance can take the form of trying to find a way to forgive. Remember that forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for the other person. When you forgive, you release the stress and energy that comes with holding grudges and blaming others. (…)
Acceptance does not mean that you agree with what happened or that you condone what happened and that you do not try to change things. It just means that we humbly accept what cannot reasonably be changed and focus on what we can improve.
Show yourself stronger
In the longer term, we give the best of ourselves in stressful situations, provided we can adapt. Adapting means making more lasting changes in our worldview, our goals, our way of seeing and our expectations. Imagine a person who is a perfectionist and is always stressed because he never seems to meet his standards. The best attitude to adopt is not to become a champion, but to lower your expectations to achieve more reasonable and realistic results. (…)
When we adapt to stress, we find ways to be stronger. We form a vision of the world that gives us a certain autonomy. For example, someone can make a habit of making a daily “gratitude list” of all the wonderful things he or she has experienced in life. Another person may meditate on their personal “code” or formulate a formula daily mantra to remember that she is strong and able to overcome adversity.
Through a set of powerful attitudes, ideas, philosophies, and inspirations, we can approach life with the confidence that we know how to handle stress, and perhaps even become the people best able to do so.
Here are the 4A’s of stress management. If you’re feeling anxious, pause and watch them all in order. No matter how stressful the situation is, there is a way to respond attentively and proactively. You are not powerless against stress, you have tools at your disposal! To exploit them, a simple awareness is enough.
For example, a colleague may be constantly pressuring you at work. Instead of telling yourself there’s nothing you can do about it, take the time to ask yourself if you can just avoid this coworker. You can even have lunch at a different time so you don’t run into him in the cafeteria, or change work stations to get away from him. However, you cannot avoid meeting him during the weekly meetings, and it is precisely at these moments that he regularly interrupts you or steals your ideas.
So you think about strategies to change the situation. Can you leave these meetings? Can you talk privately to your colleague and share your problems: “I’ve been feeling awkward in meetings lately, I feel like I’m being left out when you interrupt me”? Can you speak up in meetings and set a firmer boundary when you speak?
If none of these options are possible, you can still accept the situation to some extent. You can confide in a good friend share your frustrations, or realize that your colleague is interrupting everyone. This way you don’t take it personally and don’t let it stress you out.
Finally, you can adapt by working on gaining confidence and self-assurance. If you truly feel like you have the same legitimacy as someone else to express yourself, you’ll feel more comfortable saying, “Sorry, I didn’t finish my comments.” » And continue the conversation calmly.
* In English, the “4As” correspond to the first letter of: avoid, change, accept, adapt. The Mayo Clinic (Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science) is an American university hospital and research federation. World renowned, it is headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota. In 2020-2021, Mayo Clinic was ranked the top hospital in the United States across all specialties by US News & World Report magazine. In 2021, Mayo Clinic was also ranked internationally as the best hospital by Newsweek magazine. More than 60,000 people work there.
Nick Trenton is the author of ten books on psychology and stress reduction methods. He has a degree in economics and behavioral psychology and lives in Chicago in the United States. This text comes from his book “Stop Overthinking. 23 strategies to disconnect your mind”, published by Diateino, 208 pages, 16.90 euros.