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The Three A's To Coping With Stress

Author: Carrie Wallis Aug 2015, Updated Aug 2022



Almost all of us will experience this state at some point, for many, it is a constant in our lives. It can debilitate, at its worst, it can lead to severe mental health or physical issues.

Learning to cope with stress is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.

How many times in a day do you experience that stomach-clenching fear that can come with feeling stressed?  or do you effortlessly sail through your day without care?

Few do.

There are really just three things we can do when we feel stressed.

I call it the triple-A approach.

So what are these three A's?....

We can:

  • Alter the situation that is causing you stress or change the way you think about it
  • Avoid the situation altogether

Or we can choose to

  • Accept the situation, which can often bring a form of peace of its own.

Note. Acceptance does not equal agreement.

  • So let's dive in and explore each of these A's:

    Alter the situation or your approach to it:

    If you find yourself in a situation that you have little or no control over and can not get away from but find it highly stressful. Then the healthy option is to change the way you perceive that situation. It is either that or continue to feel stressed and give the situation even more power over you.

    You can alter your approach by:
  • Thinking positively and having a positive attitude. Try making a list of 5 things that are good about the situation. This may be a struggle but worth it in the end as it can help change your perspective on a difficult situation that you can not avoid.
  •  Improving specific skills that will help you manage the situation, for example perhaps learning some problem-solving techniques or some negotiation skills.
  • Doing something differently

    There are also some appropriate, and there are some really inappropriate actions to consider when altering a situation. Make sure that the benefit will be worth the effort in the long term.

For example, you may want to take a different route to avoid traffic, but if that route will take you 40-minutes out of your way and cause more stress, it may not be worth it.

Make sure that your actions are helpful and kind to all involved. Adding negativity to your life will not help reduce stress!

Avoid the situation.

The second A stands for Avoid.

If drinking coffee gives you indigestion, and causes you stress and embarrassment at work, don’t drink coffee!

This A is all about identifying the things that you needlessly stress about, and how to remove those items from your life

One of the most powerful tools for avoiding a stressful situation is the use of the 
Positive No strategy. This tool enables you to say no in a way that maintains control over the situation but does so in a constructive, assertive way.

The Positive No comes in several forms.

  • Say 'no', followed by an honest explanation, such as, “I am uncomfortable doing that because…
  • Say 'no' and then briefly clarify your reasoning without making excuses. This helps the listener to better understand your position. For example, “I can’t visit our neighbour right now because I promised Jenny I would take her to the playground.”
  • Say 'no', and then give an alternative. Example: “I don’t have time today, but I could schedule it in for tomorrow morning.”
  • Empathetically repeat the request in your own words, and then say no. For example: “I understand that you want everyone to partake in the roast beef supper, but I do not eat beef.”
  • Provide an assertive refusal and repeat it no matter what the person says. This approach may be most appropriate with aggressive or manipulative people and can be an effective strategy to control your emotions. For example: “I understand how you feel, but I will not [or cannot]…” Remember to stay focused and not become sidetracked into responding to other issues.

Accept the situation.

Our third A will help us deal with those things in life that just need to be done, even though they are unpleasant. Accepting the situation as it is, and being as positive as possible about it, is what this third A is all about. You can even use some of the principles from the first A to alter your attitude and make the situation a little less stressful!

If you have no choice but to continue with a stressful situation then you can choose to continue to fight it or accept it. Acceptance brings with it a calmness, a peace to the soul that can reduce those feelings associated with stress.

If you have to accept a stressful situation then it would be a good idea to engage in stress-relieving techniques at the same time to help you cope. 

The foundation to stress relief revolves around 3 core elements:

Diet Exercise and Sleep 

Diet: Make sure you are eating healthily. Perhaps find a recipe for a healthy smoothie you will enjoy or simply cut out the fatty fast foods.

Exercise: Spending just 10-minutes a day walking can bring immense relief from stress, especially if you combine it with a simple stress-relieving technique, such as mindful breathing.

Sleep: How much sleep are you getting a night? Spending a night awake, fitful with your mind racing over the problem is only going to increase your stress.

Try some relaxation exercises to help you get off to sleep or buy my relaxation audio to listen to and help you doze off to a night of deep refreshing sleep.

Often when we wake from a really deep sleep we find the world looks brighter and what previously might have seemed insurmountable now looks manageable.

Try out these strategies and let me know how you get on.

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About The Author

Carrie Wallis, Author and founder of the "From Strangers 2 Clients to Champions" client attraction system for helping professionals, has been successfully running her own business and finding clients in the online space since 2000. Over the years she has supported countless Life Coaches and Counsellors to build their own practice and find clients and loves nothing more than seeing her clients enjoy the time freedom that comes from having an automated marketing funnel in place. When she is not serving her clients she can be found chilling with her beloved family or out walking in the Australian bush.