Managing Stress

Dr. Ludmila Praslova, our Professor and Director of Graduate Organizational Psychology, shared her tips on managing stress with WalletHub. Below are her recommendations.

How can employers reduce work-related stress?

Work stress comes from 2 dimensions: demand and control. Even when high demands can’t be avoided (though they need to be realistic – not impossible), giving people control over when or how the work is done helps alleviate much of the stress. Another way to increase the sense of control is by supporting employee voice – the ability to provide meaningful input on not just their immediate jobs, but the broader organizational functions. Voice also supports another core human need – to belong. Belonging can be further enhanced by demonstrating empathy and understanding at work – which can be as simple as asking how someone is doing and actually listening to the answer.

What are the most effective ways for people to manage stress levels caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

I don't think there is a “one-size-fits-all” solution. We are stressed by different things. Some are stressed by the lack of social interaction. Others are OK with the lack of social interaction but are anxious because they or their loved ones are vulnerable to the virus. Some are frontline workers putting in extra hours in potentially unsafe environments. Others experience economic hardship because of the loss of income. In all cases, people tend to use emotion-focused coping or solution (aka problem)-focused coping. Solution-focused coping might be more effective (getting protective equipment, careful budgeting and sticking to it, using a consistent job-search strategy). But we can also support our overall wellbeing by exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing emotions in healthy ways, etc.

What tips do you have for a person who finds managing finances to be stressful?

This depends on why managing finances is stressful. If someone never learned how to manage finances, there are online tutorials, tips, and tools. If the underlying issue is deeper anxiety, perhaps working with the therapist can help to address that. There are also online communities of people who support each other in saving and managing money.

What tips do you have for a person that wishes to relax on a budget?

Sometimes we just need to do something different, or something we have not done in a while. Reading a book, watching a movie, talking to a friend can be free. A picnic in the park does not cost much. Walking is free and is shown to improve mood. Home “spa day” with a face mask and a bubble bath can be rejuvenating. Planting some fast-growing lettuce or green onions, even inside, can provide the satisfaction of gardening. Sometimes just staying away from work e-mail for a couple of days can make a major difference.

Source: WalletHub