Stressed Out? Here Are Ways to Better Manage the Pressure

By Harvard Business Review
November 29, 2017

How you handle the tension plays a huge role in determining how resilient you are. Start by asking yourself how you respond when you’re under pressure.


No matter how brave, hardworking and intelligent you may be, there comes a time when stress becomes overwhelming and you get triggered. When you’re triggered, the emotional part of your brain takes over.

Over time, these reactions can lead to acute anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue and other health problems.

How you manage stressful situations plays a huge role in determining how resilient you are.

Here are three suggestions for handling your stress better.


Start by asking yourself how you respond when you’re under pressure:

  • How does stress affect you physically (e.g., tightness in your chest, sweating, knots in your stomach, headaches, etc.)?
  • How does stress affect you psychologically or emotionally (e.g., feeling out of control)?
  • How do you de-stress (e.g., laughing, meditating, practicing yoga, reading, etc.)

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If you pay attention to the times when you experience severe stress, you’ll begin to notice a pattern — there is usually someone or something that triggers these emotions. The good news is, once you are aware of your triggers, you can manage how you react to them. The following questions are helpful in identifying your triggers:

  • It makes me angry when … .
  • I become overwhelmed when … .
  • I feel offended when … .
  • I wish people would … .

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Identify one situation that tends to challenge you emotionally, then ask yourself:

  • How is the situation impacting me physically, emotionally and psychologically?
  • What specifically triggers these feelings and emotions?
  • What action can I take to manage the situation and my emotional response more effectively?

 Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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