Stress is something that affects us all, placing a demand on our resources in order to cope. One simple and useful technique is the simple CIC model. Control, Influence, Cope. It enables us to identify an essential pathway to focus our energy and reduce our stress in situations.

For example, you have a meeting in the CBD at 9am. You board the bus that you normally travel on at a reasonable time. Suddenly you realise that the freeway is gridlocked and the bus has stopped moving. So what is in your CONTROL? You could get off the bus and risk being run over in the event of traffic suddenly moving again. You could try running, but assume that in this instance even if you are the fastest of runners, you will not make it to the CBD in time.

As these don’t appear to be options, rather than looking at what you cannot control, you then need to look at how you can INFLUENCE the situation. Could you ring the person coordinating the meeting to let them know your status and potential lateness, perhaps offer to reschedule? This would be a great option and most people understand that there are traffic hold ups beyond our control. But then wait, imagine another complication has presented itself. All mobile satellites are down and you can’t make any calls. So what can you do?

You start to feel anxious, your palms sweating, you’re panicking and thinking unfair your situation is. You then need to look to your next option and that is to identify how you can COPE. You can sit and stress until the bus starts moving again, obsessing over whether you will make it in time. You can choose to worry about the consequences of being late for your meeting. Or you can choose to cope. Reassure yourself that this is not the worst thing that can happen, that people will understand that this genuinely was beyond your control and influence. Then you can settle to chat with the person next to you or use the time to read another chapter of your book.

By choosing to eliminate thinking about what is outside of your control and what you are unable to influence, you will arrive at your destination in a much more positive and calm frame of mind. You won’t have experienced unnecessary anxiety. So think about situations where the CIC model may help you and keep it in mind to help reduce your stress levels and be better able to cope.