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Stress Management

Mastering Life’s Stressors: A Guide to Taking Control

Louisa Jewell

Founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association

The Personal Power Grid is a strategic tool I recommend to corporate clients for managing stress, focusing on differentiating between controllable and uncontrollable stressors. Here’s an overview of how you can use it to alleviate stress in your life.

Start by listing five things causing you stress. Reflect on each, determining if they are within or beyond your control. For uncontrollable factors, like your boss’s mood, traffic, or fluctuating gas prices, it’s essential to learn to let go. Stressing over these aspects is ineffective and unnecessary, as they are beyond your influence.

For stressors outside your control, adopt stress-reduction techniques. If traffic is a concern, try listening to podcasts or music while driving, or unwind with a bath at home. Recognizing that stressing over uncontrollable elements is futile, can be incredibly freeing.

Now, focus on the stressors within your control. Assess each and brainstorm solutions. For instance, if an upcoming exam is stressing you, increase your study time. The more you prepare, the less stressed you’ll feel. If a co-worker is a source of stress, consider a conversation over coffee to resolve issues. Overwhelmed by tasks? Create a ‘stop doing’ list to eliminate non-essential tasks.

Consider a real-life example: a friend responsible for a large holiday cookie exchange found it increasingly stressful due to personal circumstances. Rather than quitting, she reached out to other parents for help. One parent gladly took over, relieving her stress while keeping the tradition alive. You don’t always have to be the one that says yes to everything.

Revisit the items initially deemed uncontrollable. Ask yourself what aspects you can influence. For example, if worrying about your boss’s mood, working from home could be an option. While you can’t control their mood, you can manage how it affects you.

The Personal Power Grid encourages you to focus energy on actionable areas, while releasing tension from factors outside your control. This approach not only reduces stress but also empowers you to make meaningful changes where possible, enhancing your overall well-being.

To learn more about Louisa Jewell and strategies like these, visit

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