Managing Stress

In his course, Managing Stress, Todd Dewett, PhD provides simple tips to achieving one of the most important skills a person can have.  Stress affects all of us and a little stress can be motivational.  High stress, however, is more common and usually a huge problem.   Popular causes are job pressures (even by people who love their job), money issues, health concerns and relationships.  Stress can manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or nausea or in emotional reactions like anger or anxiety.   Either way, stress affects individuals and their personal and professional relationships.  

Todd’s first tip for managing stress is to manage accessibility.   He suggests defining a window of time to be free from interruptions, selectively disconnecting from phone calls, texts, instant messages, emails and even leaving the office if possible.  In a time when we are constantly connected through various digital gadgets, this experience will feel uncomfortable at first.  Therefore, Todd recommends starting with 15 – 30 minutes and working up to an hour.  

Effectively controlling interactions at work is the second method for managing stress.   This includes proactively connecting with people who have a positive impact on you as well as limiting interactions with people who might have the opposite effect.  In a situation where you are required to work with a person who triggers stress, interact just enough to complete the task at hand.  If the conversation starts to turn toward a stressful trigger, re-direct, be positive and move on. 

Todd highlights a few time management tips in relation to stress management.  For instance, he suggests starting with the day’s most challenging task.  While starting with a small task is tempting, it lures you into completing more small tasks and procrastinating the larger, more pressing task at hand.  He also encourages the use of 5 – 10-minute breaks twice a day as this gives the brain an opportunity to reset after working on a stressful task. 

Lastly, managing stress involves making positive lifestyle choices.  A healthy diet and exercise can help with the physical symptoms of stress while meditation and thankful reflection can help with emotional symptoms.  Furthermore, incorporating fun activities and socially stimulating events can help balance a stressful schedule. 

Ultimately, stress management is a skill that requires practice.  Todd encourages viewers to start with small, reasonable steps.  While we cannot control our surroundings, we can control our reactions to them.