A tangible approach to stressFeatured

What triggers stress, what can amplify it, and how to handle these elements to reduce it.

The level of stress we experience is based on how we are equipped to interpret the situation, and the way we see it reflects back on us.

Our reactions and beliefs can create stress and are the key to managing it. It is important to examine where they come from to create a more balanced view of situations.

As women, we are often taught to manage people’s reactions. This leads to more stress, becoming overwhelmed, and creates inequality, especially when trying to navigate a work environment not designed for us.

When working in tech, we have to navigate the fast changes in technology itself, in the market, and with our peers and managers. In this environment, we are more likely to revert to shortcuts to handle the pressure. Unfortunately, many times, these shortcuts are assumptions that can increase stress.

Stress doesn’t just go away with breathing techniques. They might help in the moment, but for long-term solutions, we must understand what makes us feel stressed and work on balancing our perception of responsibility and failure.

1. Not personalizing feedback

I suggest taking a look at “How to Let Go and Not Take Things Personally in the Corporate World”. It does a great job of breaking this down. I would, however, like to add a couple of things to it.

Contextual examples

Asking for contextual examples when given feedback.

If the person offers this information, we can work on our communication in those situations, and show that we want to improve things.

If, on the other hand, the person’s examples are mostly around what they felt in those moments, what they worried about, and their own interpretation of the events, we can do 2 things:

1 - communicate what our intention actually was, and put the ball in their court to not assume the worst of us. We cannot control their perception, but we can clarify.

2 - get clarity on what is out of our control and should not be taken to heart. If it still bothers us, then that is something to address separately and understand why.

Handling Assumptions

Can the situation be about our interpretation of things or can it be about what they are afraid of?

Our own interpretation

Based on how we learned to make sense of situations we might sometimes understand something else than what is intended. Often, this means focusing only on the negatives, something that confirms a fear or doubt we have.

This is when it is good to pause before reacting, taking time to break down what we have heard. Does it seem to confirm things like not being good enough, or not knowing enough?

  • If yes, it is worth spending time with this uncomfortable feeling and seeing if it is truly linked to this feedback, or if we are interpreting the situation through the filter of past experiences. This can be addressed in more depth in therapy.

The manager is also human

If we put our emotions/reactions aside and consider the person in front of us as just that - a person, another human being, with their own feelings, interpretations of the situation, and reactions, what else can be true in the current situation?

  • What else could they be trying to do or communicate? Is it possible that we are making assumptions about what they think about us or our work?
  • Could they try to solve something without enough information?
  • Could they be as stressed or even more stressed than us and under pressure?

Perhaps the feedback is not phrased in the best way because of their personal limitations, which we all have, but this is about understanding if more than one thing can be true, so we do not take their reaction to a situation to heart.

2. Facts vs feelings

Worst case scenario

Are we looking at the worst-case scenario?

  • If yes, let’s break it down. What is the possibility that the worst-case scenario will happen? Are there facts (not emotions, thoughts, or our own understanding but tangible facts) that point to this happening? If yes, then what are some things that we can do to counter this? Can this be discussed with our manager?
  • If not, what is more likely to happen? And what is the best thing that can happen?
  • How do these compare with the scenario we were considering?

It is important to keep in mind that a lot of us tend to see the worst in a situation, and even use it to improve things in the products we are working on, as it allows us to think of edge scenarios. But our lives do not need to be edge cases, so it is important to seek support in understanding why we tend to default to this type of thinking.

In our control vs outside our control

Are we trying to take ownership of things that are outside our control? If so, is this a recurrent thing we tend to do? Let’s try to sit with it, see where it might have started, and even discuss this with a therapist, to understand the emotional linkage between events.

It is common to see things this way, especially as women, but it can be improved. Don’t hesitate to use therapy to help change these thinking patterns.

3. Emotional transference

Is this our issue or is it from someone who cannot contain it?

Sometimes, we take “the hot potato”. Someone who cannot contain what they are feeling comes to us, and, although we were calm and content a moment ago, after talking to them, we feel on edge, doubting ourselves, seeing things spiral or other scenarios that feel out of place and too intense.

  • This is usually a sign of taking over the emotional reaction of another person. It is a type of transference that happens especially when people are highly empathic. It is important to sit with this feeling, understand whether it is warranted, or if we might have adopted it from another person.
  • In the case it isn’t fully of our own making, we can try to understand why it resonated with us. It generally is less intense once we understand where it comes from and why it resonated with us so deep.

4. Understanding their point of view

When was the last time you asked your manager what they are trying to achieve? What are their targets? What do they care about most?

This links with managing the manager, but to truly understand what it is they want, what they need to avoid, how they see the situation can bring clarity and help us reprioritize:

  • They might not care as much about quality as they care about deadlines being respected or about a specific area of the product/business. This gives us actionable points to work on, which help them and the rest of the team
  • It will also give us insights on how to negotiate with them, based on what they care about - speak their language, and understand their priorities, so we are able to present things based on their values and needs

5. Establishing boundaries

This can be harder to do, as some people will try to place us in predefined roles.

Conveying concerns according to what they care about

To do this, we make sure we have a clear understanding of how this will affect our ability to deliver, usually financially quantified (the method is based on the manager’s priorities).


  • it will take x% more time to complete each project when working in parallel, leading to x clients that are unlikely to renew due to x y z;
  • increasing project cost by x if adding x y z to the scope at this point in time, which is not validated in the market, and therefore might not have any ROI

Make sure that this shows the importance of your job, and your skill, not just the obstacles that stop them from implementing what they are asking you to do. Then collaborate or propose alternatives.

Coming up with alternative solutions

Understand their willingness to improve things in the company, based on what they care about and their track record.

Set aside 1-2 hours a week, at the end of the week, to think about what can be improved and how. Take these items to your manager as suggestions, and discuss their viability.

If you have a manager who is proactive rather than reactive, discuss the problems first and see if they already have solutions, and if you can support in implementing them.

6. Creating space

When we are stressed, our first instinct is to disconnect. Here are some things to do if we feel that our usual activities are not helping us recover:

Going out, regardless of the weather

  • Challenging weather might be better because we end up focusing on it instead of what we were stressed about. For people who love sunshine, taking a walk in the rain will be amazing. Not only building up that resilience, but detaching from our problems and recurring thoughts.

Seeing people in person

  • Focusing on others helps us remove ourselves from our problems, anxiety and stress, and our mind can take a break from working through them.

Establishing rituals when we finish work

  • Especially for people working remotely, these are incredibly important to mark the end of the work day and switch to rest and fun.
  • Going outside the house, walking around, doing yoga, anything that involves movement, and changing the environment is going to help. Avoid staying inside and watching movies on the same laptop, or from the same couch. This creates avoidance and aversion to new situations and tells our nervous system that new things are harder to do and cannot be enjoyed.

7. Developing resilience

Resilience is a skill, and each time we handle stress with awareness, we develop it slightly more. As with any skill, it is important to recognize this and award ourselves. This can be as small as a nice cup of coffee, or keeping track of the moments we have managed things better. Critique is good, but not when we only use that. We also need to acknowledge our wins.

Having small doses of stress can be good for us - working out, doing a fun physical activity, exposing ourselves to new situations. They all show us that we can handle things that come our way, and build resilience.


Stress can be approached in various ways, from the way we look at it to the way we interpret situations and respond to them in the moment, and we can build better reactions in the long run.

Please keep in touch and let me know if the methods described here are helpful, if you would want to discuss further or get clarity on any of the points. I would love to connect and hear from people how they are applying these methods.

What an amazing share! So well thought out and written out. Excellent information and insight.
Thank you, I am glad you found some value in this. Please let me know if or how it helps in the midst of daily challenges
what a great framework, Carmin!I loved the reframing ie. facts vs feelings and remembering you are dealing with other humans - we're all just trying our best to the best of our abilities!
Thank you! I find that is usually the hardest to do, but yields the best results, even if the other person might not be kind in return at that point. It draws attention to that discrepancy if it is there, and steers things into a different direction.
Thanks for sharing such an insightful post on stress management! It's so true that our reactions and beliefs can either amplify or reduce stress, and it's essential to examine where they come from to maintain a balanced view.As women, especially in tech, we're often taught to manage others' reactions, which can lead to additional stress. Navigating the fast-paced changes in technology and the market can push us to rely on shortcuts, which sometimes just increase the pressure.Breathing techniques are helpful, but like you mentioned, understanding the root causes of our stress is crucial for long-term relief. Not personalising feedback and handling assumptions are key strategies. I found this especially relevant since someone shared a quiz on Elpha - It really made me reflect on my stress triggers and how to handle them better. I found out I'm a Giving Goddess and my stress stems from constantly putting others over my needs, and not setting boundaries. So now, I watch out for those in my day to day - it's not easy, but I feel more relaxed because I know where the stress is coming from.I'd love to hear how others are managing stress and if they have any additional tips. Feel free to connectβ€”let’s keep the conversation going!
I’m glad this was useful. Generally a good next step is to understand where the need/ habit of putting others first comes from, and address it in order to rewrite the reactions, and over time reduce our stress and change our habits. If you would like to discuss more, I am happy to do that
I would love to chat more. I think it's so important what you shared here - like with diets, there is no one size fits all cure to stress.
I’ll send over a link in a private message so we can schedule a coffee chat soon