Otago Polytechnic

Lehan Stemmet strongly advises people not to avoid dealing with stress because it'll come back to bite you.

Some people seem to cope well despite significant sources of stress in their lives, while other people struggle day to day. They respond differently to circumstances and demands that they face. What makes the difference? What are the common denominators that consistently help people respond well to stress, at all levels and in all societies? 

This question has intrigued Dr Lehan Stemmet, Head of Department of Management at our Auckland International Campus, for years. Studies by other researchers have shown that the onset of 75 to 90% of all psychological and physiological illness is triggered by stress. To cope well with stress it helps to:

  • Have very clear priorities
  • Have strong support networks
  • Forgive quickly rather than harbouring offence
  • Don't ruminate on (and worry about) the past, present or future
  • Have a sense of purpose in their roles - if you can't regain that, then it may be time to think about seeking a different role or industry!

Avoidance is a commonly used coping strategy and people often fool themselves thinking that they have dealt with what needed to be dealt with by simply avoiding it – they feel better because ‘out of sight – out of mind’. But they may actually find themselves compensating in other ways that limits their growth and impacts negatively on their health.

A main principle is to help people feel less victimised by circumstances and therefore more in control of doing something about those circumstances, e.g. seeking help, changing perspectives, being proactive, etc. Lehan continues to explore and advise on industry- and even company-specific strategies for building the resilience to recover quickly from stressful situations. 


September 2019