To stop stressing out and manage stress at work, you first have to recognize triggers and reinforcements. Typical excuses include, “It’s…part of the job, it’s just the way I am, it’s only temporary, and it’s caused by others.” Regardless how real these may sound all excuses reinforce stress. Anything, regardless of its legitimacy, used to justify reduced performance is an excuse and, therefore, a source of stress.

How to Take Away your Stress Excuses

One of the best ways to take away excuses is to analyze your stress by keeping a stress journal.

How to Keep a Stress Journal:

  • Track the cause of stress.
  • Note how you feel, your emotional state of mind.
  • Recognize how you responded, how you reacted.
  • Consider what makes you feel better.

How to Relieve Stress

One of the most effective tools for reducing stress is the Avoid, Alter, Adapt, and Accept system. By keeping AAAA in mind one can learn to understand stress and how to channel it towards more productive emotions.

Avoid

  • Say no—learn to say no when you already are at your limit, or it’s not your field of expertise.
  • Avoid destructive behavior—drugs, alcohol, tobacco, overeating, too much TV, anger.
  • Avoid people who create stress—we all know them. A couple of weeks ago a good friend and I went for a hike. We talked about her awakening in 2012 to the people in her life that were causing her stress and how cutting them out (so called friends) and cutting some back (family) improved her life.
  • Control your environment—for example, if you hate the evening car crash and house fire fest more popularly known as local TV news—turn it off.
  • Avoid hot buttons—such as controversial topics. Politics and religion get most people going so don’t start it.
  • Distinguish must do from should do.

Alter

Adapt

  • Reframe, for example, change road rage to mindful driving. How to be a Mindful Driver.
  • Look for the big picture. At the end of the day how critical was it?
  • Adjust standards—you don’t always have to be perfect.
  • Focus on positives and be appreciative.
  1. Accept
  • You can’t control the uncontrollable.
  • Forgive—forgiveness isn’t about others; it’s about you and the stress it relieves.
  • View stressful situations as learning opportunities.
  • Share with a trusted friend—face-to-face.
  • Write it out and then throw it away.

Other Stress Relievers

There’s more to relieving stress at work than the aforementioned. Stress at home and lifestyle choices affect work. If you want to improve stress at work, you must improve how you handle stress in your life.

  • Spend time in nature
  • Exercise
  • Spend time with friends
  • Create—arts, crafts, write
  • Enjoy a pet
  • Plant a garden
  • Find the humor—make fun of yourself
  • Read a book
  • Listen to music
  • Schedule time to relax
  • Do something you like every day
  • Eat healthy
  • Reduce caffeine
  • Be around positive people
  • Stop worrying—Any worry can be put in one of two categories, you can either do something about it—so do it, or you can do nothing about—so quit wasting your time and causing stress.
  • Tell your inner voice no. Our inner voice is there to protect us. It will take limited information and project possible destructive outcomes. As helpful as it may be at times, our inner voice can be a negative source of stress. Occasionally you must tell the voice, “Thank you but, no, I got this!”

A Call to Action

Are you ready to tackle stress? Tired of being stressed out? It really is up to you. It’s time to take your first small steps towards stress relief. Are you ready? Here’s a place to start.

Identify your top two sources of workplace stress.

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Understand what’s reinforcing the behavior. What excuses do you make for stress?

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Plan an action to relieve stress. There are 32 listed above.

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Choose a lifestyle stress reliever. What can you do at home to relieve stress?

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Pick a stress buddy. Someone you trust, who you can talk to face-to-face, and who won’t allow you to turn it into a gossipy bitch session.

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Let me know how you did. I’d really like to know. I mean…you don’t want to stress me out worrying about you, do you?