By Russ Howard
First and foremost, this blog serves our vibrant and growing client community. It is a destination for us to share our insights on the learning industry as well as the challenges and opportunities we see ahead. It also is a place for us to spotlight the most popular, timely and pertinent content that we deliver through our e-learning courseware, leadership skills training resources, digital books and services programs.
Some of our most popular posts are ones written by Shawn Hunter as part of our regular leadership skills training series, through which he shares the key takeaways from his interviews with global leaders as part of the Leadership Development Channel. We're expanding this dimension of our blog by adding three new series in 2011: Books24x7 Book Reviews, KnowledgeBoosters and E-Learning Challenges. Pam Boiros kicked off the book review series on January 4 with a review of No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy.
Today, we are inaugurating the first in our series of KnowledgeBoosters. These will be skills development tips and techniques delivered in "quick hit" fashion, in order to respect the increasing demands for your attention. Each one also will include reference to a relevant course from our e-learning courseware collection, a book and an online article on the topic to allow you to learn more.
Our first KnowledgeBooster is on dealing with stress.
Stress is a personal experience. As such, a situation that's stressful for one individual may not be stressful for another. Individuals react to stressful events based on their perception of the event or situation – not the event itself, and because our perceptions are the determining factor in how much stress we experience, changing our thinking can change our reaction and lower the level of stress we experience.
When we experience a stressful event, the first thing we should try to do is understand why it happened, as our beliefs about the cause of the event trigger our reaction. Psychologist Albert Ellis's ABC model is designed to help us explore and better understand our perceptions of stressful events. The model provides a way for us to challenge and change how we think, thereby changing our perceptions, and with it our levels of stress.
- "A" stands for the actual event, the stressor that precipitates a stressful reaction.
- "B" is for beliefs. This is how the actual event is understood or perceived. Perception is based on your thoughts and feelings about the event.
- "C" is for consequences. Consequences are the feelings evoked or the actions taken in response to the stressful event and are directly related to your beliefs about the situation.
Using the ABC model
A three-step process based on the ABC model provides a way for us to manage our reaction to stressful events, turn our negative perceptions into more positive ones, and feel positive about ourselves:
- Identify your beliefs – Ask yourself, "Why did this event happen?" It's important to note that if your beliefs aren't accurate, you may be overly negative or irrational in your thinking. This can trigger a more stressful response.
- Challenge your negative thoughts – Challenging the negative or irrational thoughts you have in response to the event is critical. Do this by asking yourself questions designed to highlight when you're being negative or irrational and not being objective: "Are my thoughts based on fact or reality?" "Am I sure the event happened for the reason I've based my understanding on?" and "Can I view the event in any other way?"
- Replace your negative thoughts – Work to replace your negative or irrational thoughts with positive, rational thoughts. Do this by recognizing the errors in your thinking that led you to react negatively or irrationally. For instance, maybe you tend to label, over-generalize, take everything personally, or place blame.
We can use questions to challenge and change our thinking. Where appropriate, modify the following questions to your particular situation:
- Is my understanding logical?
- Is there any evidence to support my understanding?
- Am I overreacting?
- Are my expectations realistic?
- Am I taking things too personally?
- Am I wrongly blaming myself or others?
You can use the ABC model – actual event, beliefs, and consequences – to help you understand your responses to stress. First, identify your beliefs. Next challenge your negative thoughts. And finally, replace a negative thought process with a more rational, productive, stress-relieving one.
Course: Optimizing Your Work/Life Balance: Taking Control of Your Stress (pd_06_a03_bs_enus)
Book: Surviving Job Stress: How to Overcome Workday Pressures
Article: Stress In the Workplace