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22 May 2020

GSOM professor tells how to cope with stress

On May 20, Sofya V. Kosheleva, professor at the Graduate School of Management at St. Petersburg University (GSOM), held a webinar entitled “Stress! What to do? (anti-stress management)." Sofya Kosheleva talked about the nature of stress, diagnostic methods and methods for overcoming stress.


According to the definition of the author of the theory of stress, Hans Selye, stress is an adaptive reaction that the body needs to cope with sudden changes. Moreover, circumstances can be both positive and negative, both real and imagined. It is also proven that stress provides energy for making changes, and that both an excess as well as a lack of stress are harmful to humans. When finding oneself in a stressful situation, a person trains his psyche and subsequently it may be easier to deal with new stress. This type of stress is called "eustress" or “good stress”. But a long-term stressful condition that affects the physical and psychological well-being of a person is called "distress."


In order not to become a victim of distress, anyone can conduct an quick diagnosis of their condition. To do this, one should answer the following questions honestly:

  • Do you often feel stressed?

  • Is stress seldon in your life or a it is general background, style of life?

  • How does stress affect your life?

  • What environmental factors make you stressed?

  • Can you handle stress? If so, how?


Under stress, a person goes through several stages. In the early stages, stress does not harm the body, but in the more advanced stages, the individual may require medical attention. From the occurrence of a stressful state to its climax, up to 10 days can pass. After that, the stage of unstable adaptation begins, when, depending on the amounts of the hormones adrenaline and norepinephrine, released in response to a stressful situation, a person chooses a strategy for further behavior, by either getting out of the situation or by mobilizing all strength to solve it. Depending on their state of health, a person may be in severe stress for 3 to 6 months. Further stress has a devastating effect on the body.


There are personality characteristics that contribute to the development of stress. These are increased anxiety, a tendency to guilt, self-doubt and passivity, avoiding strategies to overcome difficult situations. In addition, stressful behavior can contribute to stress, which is characterized by a strong desire and willingness to compete, by multitasking — the tendency to do several things at once under limited time constraits, and the tendency to increase the pace of performing mental or physical tasks. Objective external factors can also have an effect, such as a pandemic, problems at work, lack of a comfortable workplace and the ability to go out.


In order to prevent a transition to an unproductive stressful state, experts recommend observing a balance of work and rest, i.e. at least sleep 8-9 hours a day, eating healthy food, spending at least 40-60 minutes per day in the fresh air, maintaining physical activity, preferring active rest to passive, taking time to talk with family and friends and finding a hobby that will help restore one’s strength.


“It is important to maintain the usual daily routine even when you work from home. Scheduled lunch, dress in office clothes, follow usual morning rituals — all this helps to preserve a stable and sustainable life, which means to keep a sober look at the situation. In the future, this sober view will help you plan your life in preparation for the  new world that  will have changed after the pandemic,” said Sofya Kosheleva.