Studies show that severe stress is associated with heart disease, depression, and suppression of the immune system, which can lead to other health problems. So it makes sense to try to eliminate stress as much as possible. It’s Stress Awareness Month, so I would like to share an approach from Velsoft’s Stress Management softskills course that can help with reducing the amount of stress in our lives.

The Triple A Approach

Choosing an approach that works for you means that you are accepting the role you play in managing your own stress. When we have situations that cause our stress levels to rise, there is a choice-based approach that we can apply to almost everything. We can alter or change the situation, figure out how to avoid the situation, or accept the situation and alter our response to it.


Sometimes this is the most promising strategy. Let’s say you are always stressed when you are going to be late for a meeting. Change the situation by setting an alarm so you will leave five or 10 minutes earlier than you usually do. Write the appointment down with a 15-minute cushion. For example, if you have a meeting that starts at 2:30 p.m., and it is in the building next door which is a 10-minute walk, make sure that you write the walking time into your appointment calendar. And make sure that you don’t accept a meeting invitation that will take you right up to 2:30 p.m.

Here’s another example: Every time your mother-in-law comes for a visit your hackles rise and you are in a bad mood the whole time she is there. How might you alter that situation? You could speak with your partner and make reservations for her to stay at a nearby hotel, buy a bouquet of flowers for her room so you start off on the right foot, or try to get to know her better. If this is a longstanding tough relationship and you’ve never talked to her about it, perhaps now is the time to do so.


On the other hand, that mouthy neighbor may be somebody you can avoid altogether. Don’t get drawn into a conversation with them, and if they try to talk with you, let them know you have somewhere else to be. If cheese gives you a migraine, avoid it. If your car needs maintenance before it falls apart, avoid calamity by getting it looked after. Forcing ourselves into situations that contribute to our stress, when we really don’t have to be in those situations at all, is masochistic. (By the way, don’t decide to avoid your mother-in-law altogether. That just transfers the stress you feel onto your spouse and that isn’t fair.)


Some things in life are unavoidable, such as taxes, so we may as well accept these situations with good grace. Being grateful that you make enough money to pay taxes puts the annoyance of taxes into another light. There are plenty of things that annoy people that others simply accept. Let’s say going to the dentist makes you stressed. Accept that and deal with it accordingly. Play music before you go or do some meditation. Let your dentist know how you are feeling, and let them reassure you that they treat all their patients as if they don’t want to be there and have set up their practice to make you as comfortable as possible. If that’s still not helping, remind yourself that dental health is linked to heart health, and accept the benefits of what you are doing.

Handy quotes about stress awareness:

  • “Getting stress out of your life takes more than prayer alone. You must take action to make changes and stop doing whatever is causing the stress. You can learn to calm down in the way you handle things.” — Joyce Meyer
  • “Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.” — Andrew J. Bernstein
  • “Stress is an important dragon to slay — or at least tame — in your life.” — Marilu Henner
  • “You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.” — Wayne Dyer
  • “Stress is the trash of modern life we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” — Danzae Pace
  • “One of the best ways to reduce stress is to accept the things that you cannot control.” — M. P. Neary
  • “Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response TO what happens. And RESPONSE is something we can choose.” — Maureen Killoran
  • “When we commit to action, to actually doing something rather than feeling trapped by events, the stress in our life becomes manageable.” — Greg Anderson

Carol Dunn is senior editor and head writer at Velsoft Training Materials.