(1) This article by Tony Ewing discusses different techniques to reduce stress and increase productivity. Ewing addresses the negative effects of stress and encourages leaders to develop strategies to cope with stress. Ewing addresses different ways to cope that are supported by research such as: self-distancing, avoiding perfectionism/ doing things badly and embracing a “stress is enhancing” mindset. Self-distancing consists of removing one-self from the stressful situation to gain clarity and perspective before reacting. This helps to reduce negative behavior but also alleviates some of the internal negative effects of stress. Doing things badly is a proposed solution for the stresses that perfectionism can create. By allowing space for mistakes and later corrections we remove some of the pressure that perfectionism causes and may be able to accomplish the task more efficiently. Finally re-framing stress as something beneficial may allow for increased persistence and stronger performance. Ewing concludes that stress is a complex condition that requires individualized attention and both short- and long-term management. He offers these 3 techniques as scientific ways to manage stress when we need to be productive.
(2) Research from the Ohio State University addressing the effects of self-distancing in angry/ stressful situations found that provoked individuals who experienced stress and self-distanced scored lower in anger and aggression meaning they experienced less angry thoughts and less aggressive behavior compared to individuals provoked in a control group who could not self-distance.
An article from Stanford regarding Stress, Mindsets and Success in Navy SEALs assessed how different mindsets and perspectives of stress effected performance. The mindset of individual participants was determined using a survey with specific phrasing and agreement scales with options 1-5. The study gathered information about persistence (how long participants stayed in training), success (whether students graduated or not) and performance (completion times for different activities) as well as peer and instructor analyses. They found that participants with mind sets that “stress is enhancing” showed significantly better performance times, lasted longer in the program and were rated more positively by others. They concluded that stress perspectives can predict outcome better several characteristics like demographics and fitness/ BMI. The authors suggest that mindsets relating to stress, rather than just stress management or reduction, may be an important factor in dealing with stressful environments.
Lastly, a study regarding maladaptive perfectionism’s link to aggression and self-harm suggests that perfectionism is associated with increased self-harm and/or aggression towards others for emotional regulation after receiving negative feedback. They concluded that perfectionism could foster hard work, increased attention to detail and increased ability to overcome adversity, but when setbacks threaten a perfectionist’s well- being they have a higher chance of becoming agitated and behaving aggressively to improve their mood. Acknowledging that mistakes and failures is inevitable results in less rigid standards and less aggressive behavior when negative feedback is received.
(3) I think Ewing used the science in an appropriate way in this article. Stress plays a large role in most people’s life today, especially in today’s climate of high political and social tensions, and the additional stressors of the pandemic. I think it is important to continue to research stress and maintain a conversation about how it impacts individuals physically, mentally, and emotionally. The purpose of this popular article was to discuss some scientific techniques that individuals may be able to adopt when dealing with stress. Ewing presented the science well and acknowledged that stress is a complex condition that requires more research and can be managed in a many ways that extend beyond his three “emergency” techniques.