The ABC of Stress - what are they?

I knew Thursday was going to be a challenging day when, on waking at 6am to ensure I was going to be early to work, there was no hot water and the house was freezing. Dressed in dressing gown, and rueing the decision my husband and I had made to move the boiler into our garage, when there isn’t an adjoining door, I scuttled around and set about restarting the boiler. Having a lovely warm shower after was, in hindsight, the highlight of my day … so needless to say it didn’t get much better.

Travelling to work was nightmare’ish. The A329(M) had an accident, and the detour I took put 15 minutes onto my journey, J10 of the M4 led to a traffic jam both east and west bound, and the back roads I travelled on to do my 20 mile journey, were relatively unknown to me. When I crossed the M4 from North to South … for the second time … I knew I was lost!

A few years back I would have been getting angry, frustrated, and, like the cartoon characters, steam would have been pumping from my ears, but I’ve learnt some skills since then … and I laughed.

When things are out of our control we all have a tendency to get anxious, this can often be seen in work environments when change is introduced; we can see our team members or colleagues expressing this as resistance to change. David Rock offers some great insight into this with his book ‘Your Brain at Work’ and there is a very watchable TEDx Talk ‘Learning about the brain changes everything’, which is viewable here:

So how do we stop our staff, and ourselves, from getting caught up in the stress of the moment? Dr Seligman’s “ABC of Stress” can help us to break the cycle, allowing us to become more optimistic, overcome adversity and, as I found out, even laugh when we are late and lost.

The ABC technique stands for Activating Event, Beliefs (or thoughts) and Consequence (or feelings). In short, if you can change your Beliefs you can change your reactions to a situation. For me, I concentrated on the idiocy of my situation, in being so caught up on not being late, I had actually made myself later, I could have (should have) been patient and followed the route I knew. But I saw myself as others would see me, I pictured my haphazard route, I thought about the series of events that had led me to be where I was, and realised how unimportant the whole saga was in the grand scheme of things.

By helping your staff to view the world of change in a different light, you will be helping them to reframe their world and be able to embrace (rather than resist) the changes around them more easily.