How to manage stress?

Drikus Kriek


The first skill is to employ your FTB s i.e. to shape, modify, adjust them to help you in your quest to meet your goals - we must frame a situation to “stress-up” and “stress-down”.

It is helpful to:

  • Visualize –direct your thoughts
  • Imagery –train your emotional responses
  • Relaxation –practice to “switch off”


  • Context: Fully experience the moment through all senses
  • In-tune with body: Scan your body for all feelings, positions and sensations
  • Connect with breathing: In-out experience, rhythm
  • Experience sounds: the office, teammates, phones, etc
  • Practice with a familiar experience: a weekly meeting
  • Practice with a good sensation: a deal or a sales success
  • Practice with a feeling you avoid: a bad experience with a stakeholder


 Experience the fullness of every moment. When you are fused in FBT’s it is different from being connected…

  • Fused in history (“if only I did this or that”) compared to being fully engaged
  • Fused in future (“what if this is going to happen”) compared to being fully connected
  • Fused in being judgmental (“I should’ve…” compared to being involved
  • Fused in being bored compared to being curious and inquisitive


 Natural reaction to them is to regard them as…

  • The TRUTH and therefore Believe them
  • ORDERS and therefore Obey them
  • IMPORTANT and therefore Give full attention
  • ADVICE and therefore Do what they suggest
  • THREATS and therefore Treat them as dangerous

Exercise 1: Take any FTB and put the following words before it: “I notice that I…”
Exercise 2:  Thought bubble: Imagine the FTB inside a thought bubble of a comic book


Stress is always connected with happiness. There are important principles that we need to remember about happiness:

  1. The Happiness is not success or “out there” or “one day”
    • Spend Money—not on objects but on experiences
    • Find Something to Look Forward to
    • Commit Conscious Acts of Kindness
    • Exercise Signature Strengths
    • Exercise
  2. Training Your Brain to Capitalize on Possibility
    • Tetris gamers start to “see” the world around them like Tetris shapes.
    • “Selective Perception” is seeing what we are looking for. When we hear a new word or buy a new car, we hear and see the same all around us. Optimism and gratitude
  3. The Zorro Circle:
    • How can Limiting Your Focus to Small, Manageable Goals Expand Your Sphere of Power. Zorro learned to become a great swordsman by mastering small circles (small chunks of learning) and then expanding his circles. Avoid reaching for the stars—rather go one-step at a time.
  4. Invest in giving
  5. Why Social Support is Your Single Greatest Asset. It is a great idea to invest in social capital at work:

    • Introduce people around to each other.
    • Ask, “What’s on the other side of your business card?”
    • Be a catalyst, the get it done guy, the inspirer, etc.?”
    • Send a “thank you” email to someone at work every day.
    • Keep a gratitude journal. After a month, it will become a positive habit…visible and infectious.
  6. Balance pleasure and purpose
    • Happiness always has two components: pleasure component and purpose component. Moreover, if stress makes you happy, that is good. When stress stops you from being happy, it is a sign that you need to start doing things differently.
    • If you think about pleasure & purpose components as swings, we are always in-between of both ends. Sometimes we start to get deeper into the purpose part so much that everything starts to be dominated by purpose either this is career, money, wish to be successful or wish to be a good parent. We are prepared to sacrifice so many things that we do not enjoy ourselves any more. Other people just try to enjoy themselves all the time, so purpose does not exist anymore.
    • Those swings are something we need to try to manage. Engage to your purpose and engage in finding pleasure in your work and beyond. Remember, you cannot just expect the purpose to come without you actively trying to engage.

pleasure purpose pendulum

Where to start?

It can be overwhelming if you do not know what to do and where to start. Try “Zorro circle” – be perfect in what you can control very “near” you and after that, you can go further. It should be within your range. You can use it as core skills or as key to your comfort and then you can  grow it into something bigger.

What do you say to yourself when you are under stress? OK. Bad things happen, calm down…

The first thing you do – you do not say, “calm down”. Because this means you are falling exactly into this trap. You should not control your emotions, you need to learn to live with this emotion, experience this emotion. As soon as you acknowledge it, you will find the right way and deal with this. Otherwise what happens, if the things are falling apart and I say “calm down” and try to be in control,  all your energy goes to building a wall between the problem and yourself, instead of experiencing and dealing with the problem. It takes 2-times more energy to build the wall and to actually deal with a problem.

You should not stay calm and lie to yourself. Even if you are trying to push it away, it does not go away.  You are starting an internal fight that it is much bigger than the actual fight with a problem.

Find something you are good at, that could become a signature of yours. In this messy word, everybody needs to find something that could be a differentiator; I call it a leader value proposition. It is what I bring to community, company, a family that is different, valuable, that only I can do. It is the thing that will create your career, build it around this capability/skill. As soon as you have it, all the stress will go away.

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Prof. Arnold Smit
Dr. Nenad Filipović, Director of Executive Education, IEDC
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Mateja Božič


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