The 4 A’s of Stress Management: Plug Them In

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April 9, 2024

As we recently discussed, April is National Stress Awareness Month. The two biggest problems with stress are that (1) everyone experiences it, and (2) it inflicts harm on everyone it affects. Therefore, we would all benefit from learning better stress management strategies to help us out both in the short and long-term. Our previous discussion focused on what to do during a time of acute stress, but today we’re going to look at more of a preventative, managerial aspect to stress management known as the 4 A’s of Stress Management.

The Mayo Clinic formulated this stress management strategy, and below we’re going to dig into each of these four components. We will provide descriptions and examples of how you and your loved ones can incorporate this approach into daily life in hopes of managing your stress more effectively. Doing so will make a big difference in your overall mental and physical health.

Why Stress Management Is Important

Stress management is critically important because when we don’t do anything to combat stress, it can ultimately become chronic. The body is not built to endure a high level of stress on an ongoing basis. Many of us struggle with coping with stress, and the result is that our systems do not return to a “normal” state quickly enough or even at all in some situations.

This is dangerous to both our physical and mental health. According to WebMD, just a few examples of long-term health problems – physical and mental – that can be caused by long-term stress include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Strokes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality disorders

Clearly, curbing the effects of chronic stress should be a priority for everyone.

But how can people accomplish this task?

The 4 A’s of Stress Management

As mentioned above, the Mayo Clinic put together what is commonly known as the 4 A’s of Stress Management. Below we explain each of those components and offer everyday ideas for incorporating them.


When it comes to stress management, one of the first things we need to realize is that there are things that we can control and things that we cannot. The avoiding aspect of stress management involves identifying the factors you can change and then making those changes so you don’t encounter them as often.

For example, if driving to work at your normal times leads to a large amount of stress, see if you can change your schedule to drive earlier or later to avoid traffic. If you work with someone who irritates you to the point of stress, then take steps to steer as clear of that person as possible. The changes you make may be small in nature, but the difference they make in your overall stress level could be enormous.


If you continually encounter situations that you know ahead of time are going to be stressful and you cannot avoid them, then it’s time to look at altering those situations. Now is the time when it’s most important to stand up for yourself and protect your own interests. You can still be polite without being too accommodating.

Once again, one of the examples involves how you deal with other people, or more directly, how they deal with you. If you have no choice but to work with a person who treats you poorly, say something the next time. Tell him or her what he or she is doing that you don’t think is right and ask that it stop. Another common problem is when people take on too much work on most days. Instead, just spread that work out over a few days to make it more manageable.


Not all stress management involves overcoming situations outwardly. Even if you do your best to avoid something that gives you stress and altering it doesn’t lead to the desired result, you can still help yourself. The third aspect of stress management is learning to accept the things that you cannot change despite those best efforts. This is a wise decision when the only other option is to continue to experience stress that’s harming you.

This is a good time to lean on your support network. Talk to friends, family members or even a mental health professional if you feel stuck. Try to work on ways to think about these situations – or these people who stress you out – differently such that your mental approach improves. There’s no way to build a template for this, as every situation is different, but with the proper help and time it can be done.


We all have standards for ourselves and others, and we all strive to meet if not exceed those standards. Regardless of our roles in life, all of us need to feel like we are making a positive difference both for ourselves and those around us. Unfortunately, stress arises when we feel as though we are failing to meet those standards, whether that feeling is fair, accurate or not.

One way to engage in stress management in this regard is to take a good, hard look at your standards. If you’re the person who takes care of the yard for your family, it’s OK that it doesn’t look worthy of a magazine cover every single day. If you’re in charge of a project at work, achieving the desired result is nothing to be ashamed of, even if the result isn’t instantly transcendent. The best way to state this more concisely is that you should avoid allowing perfect to become the enemy of very good, as that will lead to stress.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

Successful stress management is a vital component in preventing mental health challenges from arising in the first place. For a lot of people, though, there is a lot more happening that simply cannot be helped. If you find yourself or someone you love in this position, then you should seek out the help of a mental health professional who can work with you to put things into perspective.

We are available to talk if you need to figure some things out. Contact our team at SoCal Empowered to see if a stay with us would be the right way to handle serious mental health challenges that are affecting your life. Even if staying with us isn’t the best step to take, we’ll help you identify the right one so that you can get things turned around as soon as possible.

Contact us today for help.

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