3-Steps to Manage Your Stressors Instructions: Take a moment and write down three situations that currently cause you stress. Use the Stress Management Plan Template on page 13 as a guide. Then, as you read through the next three pages on the four As – write down which strategy will help you manage each of these three stressors. 1. Identify three situations that cause you stress 2. Think about how you normally react to the situation 3. Select a new strategy or new reaction to manage that stressor, using The Four As Use the stress management plan template on page 13 Managing Stress Four Ways of Managing Stress Learn how to say “no”—In both your personal and professional life, Avoid don’t automatically “say yes” to additional responsibilities before considering them. If you’re not sure you can deliver on a commitment, say: “I’ll get back to you” Take time to weigh your options and get more detailed information about the request before agreeing. “I’d really like to, but…” Explain that you’d like to do whatever your friend, family member, or manager requests; however, you can’t now - or ever - for specific reasons: Example: If a friend or family member asks you to go out to dinner when you’re under a time crunch with personal responsibilities, you may feel badly saying no. However, you can say this: “Going out to dinner sounds like a great idea; however I’m quite busy right now. Would next week work?" Feel free to propose another time or another idea. For example, you could propose going out for coffee or eating in, if budget is a concern. Limit time spent with people who create stress—If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you haven’t been able to change the relationship, limit the amount of time you spend with him or her. Spend only the time you need to meet necessary obligations, and if that doesn't work, consider ending the relationship. Take control of your environment—If the evening news makes you anxious, turn off the TV. If driving in traffic makes you tense, consider taking a longer but less-traveled route or changing your driving hours. If going to stores stresses you out, try to shop online. Pare down your to-do list—Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you have too much to do, distinguish between “shoulds” and “musts.” Identify what you enjoy doing and what you simply do out of obligation, guilt, or habit. Look for ways to eliminate tasks that aren’t necessary. 9 See page 14 for tips on managing your to-do list © 2009 Corporate Executive Board, All Rights Reserved. Managing Stress Four Ways of Managing Stress Assert your feelings—If someone creates stress in your life, plan a Alter way to communicate your feelings openly and respectfully without placing blame. That person may not know how their actions affect you. Example: You have a chatty colleague and a firm deadline. When he starts to tell you about his weekend, say, “I’d love to chat, but am really busy with this project right now.” Be willing to compromise—If you ask someone to change her behavior, be willing to do the same with yours. If you both adjust, you can hopefully find an agreeable middle ground. Communicate conflicting responsibilities—We often feel most stressed when we’re pulled in many different directions. If someone asks you to do a task that you cannot because of other responsibilities, communicate about that to them. This may help the person asking for your time to understand your situation. Example: Your colleague asks you to help her plan a meeting at noon, but you already promised another team member that you would finish a task by 1 pm. Instead of telling her, “I can’t help;” emphasize your responsibilities to others. For example, “Melissa asked me to finish this task by 1 pm; so unfortunately, I can't do both that and the meeting.” 10 © 2009 Corporate Executive Board, All Rights Reserved. Managing Stress Four Ways of Managing Stress Realize when a situation is out of your control—Many things in Accept life are beyond our control; for example, the behavior of others and situations controlled by others. Rather than focusing on how you wish someone would have acted or what you wish had happened, focus on what you can control - your reaction. Manage your expectations—Our plans and expectations are just plans and expectations, not guaranteed outcomes. Continuing to focus on what “could” and “should” have happened reinforces disappointment and discontent. See what you can learn from the situation—While it may sound trite, stressful situations often present opportunities for personal growth, for evaluating how we could have changed our actions, and for learning how to do things differently. Whenever you’re faced with a stressful situation, try to take time to think about what you can learn from that situation to help influence your actions in the future. Adjust your standards—Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable Adapt stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and when necessary, learn to be okay with “good enough.” Look at the bigger picture—When faced with stress, ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will this situation matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere. 11 © 2009 Corporate Executive Board, All Rights Reserved. Your Stress Management Plan You can manage stress in your life by identifying the sources of stress—stressor(s)—and then proactively responding to them by Accepting, Avoiding, Altering, or Adapting. Use the table below to list your current stressor(s) and chosen responses for each one—as well as detailed steps for managing your response. Stressor Example: Phone calls from family during the work day Accept Avoid Alter Adapt Response Details Tell family members that I will only be available to talk to them during lunch hour; ask them not to call at any other time during the day unless its an emergency. 13 © 2009 Corporate Executive Board, All Rights Reserved.