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What’s your preferred approach to deal with stress?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

What’s your preferred approach to deal with stress?

  • Exercise and physical movement: 50.2%
  • Meditation: 7.9%
  • Taking time off: 14.7%
  • Distracting yourself: 14.1%
  • Something else: 7.8%
  • I don’t know how to deal with stress.: 5.2%

Get up and move. Clearly physical activity is the most popular form of stress relief. Whether it’s a quick walk around the office to running a few miles, getting away from your desk and getting into your body is a powerful means of stress relief. The reason physical movement reduces stress is it satisfies your brain’s need to move. This is a pre-historic response generated by the amygdala — your brain’s “alarm.” When stress sets off that alarm, movement turns it off. For those of you simply distracting yourselves or not knowing how to deal with stress, try incorporating some physical movement and see how that helps. Track your stress levels over time. Hopefully you’ll see a meaningful improvement once you start moving more.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”