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Need Stress Relief? Try the Four A’s.

| September 7, 2010

by Jim Bruce

The Leaders Program workshops have introduced all of you to the 4 I’s at one time or another.  Today’s reading introduces you to the four A’s, strategies from the Mayo Clinic staff – ”Need Stress Relief?  Try the Four A’s– for coping with stress:  avoid, alter, accept, and adapt.

Since the early August incident between a JetBlue flight attendant and a passenger seeking to remove her luggage from the overhead luggage bin, we’ve heard about and seen an increasing number of news stories, YouTube videos, etc. that show how stress is appearing all around us.

The Mayo Clinic staff point out that many feel the effects of stress weighing us down and note that too much stress makes life a difficult journey.  They suggest using one of the four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Accept, or Adapt – to reduce the stressors and/or to increase your ability to cope.

Change the level of your stressors

AVOID – some stress can be avoided

  • take control of your “soirroundings”
  • avoid those who bother you
  • learn to say no
  • ditch the low priority tasks

ALTER – work to change your situation for the better

  • respectfully ask others to change their behavior
  • communicate your feelings openly
  • manage your calendar better
  • state limits in advance

Increase your ability to cope

ACCEPT – sometimes you don’t have a choice

  • talk with someone; you’ll feel better after a conversation about the situation
  • forgive;  being angry consumes enormous energy
  • practice positive “self talk”
  • learn from your mistakes


  • adjust your standards;  redefine success
  • stop gloomy thoughts immediately
  • adopt a mantra;  e.g., “I can handle this”
  • look at the big picture

Stressors, both good and bad, are a part of life.  Make using the 4 A’s part of the tools you use in your leadership practice.


Have a great week.  .  .  .     jim