As Covid restrictions have eased this summer, adjusting to larger gatherings and more people being out and about has been stressful for some.  I’m also hearing a lot of apprehension about what the Delta variant may look like for Ontario in the coming weeks.

In the past I’ve written about breathing, yoga, tapping, mindfulness, exercise, and other modalities that can help to lower symptoms of stress.  You can find all our past articles at .  Here are more tips to help you keep your stress levels down. 

The Four A’s

The Help Guide,, provides a whole range of strategies to help maintain our mental health.  One article, talks about using the four A’s as options to manage stressful situations that we can more easily predict ahead of time, for example, a meeting with a boss or navigating our comfort level when getting together with larger groups of family or friends this summer.  The four A’s are avoid, alter adapt, and accept.  I’ve used the bullet headings from the article but adapted the examples so take a look at the original article for additional ideas.      

Avoid unnecessary stress

  • Practice saying “no” more often so that your plate doesn’t get too full to handle
  • Minimize spending time with people who increase your stress
  • Control the things in your environment that you can – e.g. shop at quiet times in your favourite store, ask people ahead of time to maintain a 2 metre distance if that helps you feel more comfortable, find places to walk that aren’t as busy
  • Keep your to do list at a number that is manageable for you

Alter the situation

  • Express feelings – Practice voicing your feelings and being clear about your needs in a respectful manner, e.g., you feel comfortable getting together for an hour outside and then need to leave
  • Compromise – Remember that everyone is managing in the best way they know how and being willing to shift our respective positions, in order to come to a mutual agreement, can reduce everyone’s stress level
  • Balance your schedule – balance the activities in your life to ensure that the needs of your mind, body, and spirit are being met

Adapt to stressors

  • Reframe problems – I’ve started using the phrase “I get to” whenever I’m doing something I don’t really want to do, e.g. “I get to” add another flight of stairs to my goal when I find myself on the second floor and have forgotten what I needed in the basement. 😊  It’s amazing how those three words can change my perspective! 
  • Big picture – how important is this situation?  Will it be super important in another month?  Sometimes that helps us let go of some of the stress about the situation today
  • Adjust standards – practice leaving perfection behind and going with “this is good enough”
  • Gratitude – having a strong gratitude practice really helps to keep things in perspective.  This has been a wonderful practice for me over the years, there’s always so much I can find to be grateful for, even on tough days.  It’s not always easy to come up with things at the beginning but it does gets easier!
Reframe problems by saying “I get to”

Accept the things you can’t change

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable – We can’t control how other people behave, but we can choose how we respond.  Practice, practice, practice is the name of the game here.
  • Look for the positives – this is similar to gratitude.  In a stressful situation, is there something that you can see in a positive light, any learning to be gleaned, anything you can say “I get to” about?
  • Forgive – everyone makes mistakes.  Practicing mindfulness helps us, over time, to accept the situation and our upset, work through our feelings and then move on
  • Share feelings – Bottling up feelings always leads to more stress.  Being able to share our feelings with a trusted friend, family member or therapist can help us to move through them and move to forgiveness and positivity more quickly. 

Other topics you can google are: laughter and stress or laughter therapy, stress or gratitude journals, music and stress, or nutrition and stress.  There are so many resources out there.  Commit to one thing that speaks to you in the coming week. 

If you’re finding it difficult to adopt a practice to reduce stress, NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback can help to get you to a place where you can.  Book your free consultation below.

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