One of the best ways of understanding stress and preventing anxiety is to look at a model of emotional distress elaborated by psychologist Albert Ellis. He calls his model the ABC model, and it’s as simple as it sounds:
A-is the Activating event or potentially stressful situation.
B-is your Beliefs, thoughts, or perceptions about A.
C-is the Emotional consequence or stress that results from holding these beliefs.
This three pronged model of dealing with stress and preventing anxiety provides you with a useful tool to help you understand the many ways you can manage and control your anxiety…You have three major choices.
- Changing “A”: means modifying your environment…If spiders cause you anxiety, stay away from spiders. If traffic stresses you, then leave home earlier. If if you hate deadlines, then finish the project before the expected time.
- Changing “B”: If you cannot significantly change those situations and events that are triggering your stress/anxiety, you can change the way you perceive them. An important subset of anxiety management skills focuses on ways of changing the way you view the world. You will see that much, if not most, of your anxiety is self induced, and you can learn to perceive things differently.
- Changing “C”: If you cannot change the situation, or the way you view that situation, you can still manage your anxiety by mastering other skills…You can learn how to relax your body and quiet your mind. You can learn tools on how to stay calm and reduce your anxiety.
An important part of anxiety management is knowing how you create your stress and learning how to change your thinking. Your thinking patterns play a major role in producing stress and anxiety. Fortunately, learning how to change your thinking is not all that difficult. Your attitudes and beliefs about any potentially anxiety producing situation or event determines how much anxiety you will experience. By changing the way you experience a potentially anxious situation, you can shift your emotional reaction to that situation.