Business Schools

One Question: How MBAs Have Learned to Beat Stress


One Question: How MBAs Have Learned to Beat Stress

In our continuing series, we ask MBA students from all over the world one question to get at what the next generation of business leaders is thinking. This week we asked: Between classes, exams, recruiting, and internships, the MBA experience produces a lot of high-pressure moments. What’s your go-to trick for handling stress?

My usual trick for avoiding stress is to exercise. I really enjoy the thrill that comes from going out for a long jog, and it usually does the trick for relieving anxiety. Late in the evening tends to be when stress is most apparent and can sometimes ruin a good night’s sleep, to the detriment of my performance in class. I make sure to have about 45 minutes before bed when I wind down and do some personal reading.

— Stephen Reddin, Ivey Business School, Western University

In terms of handling stress, I block off time on my calendar to hit the local Crossfit gym three to five times a week. Health is a priority for me, and I won’t compromise my well-being during business school. As advice to others handling stress, I would say make yourself a priority. Don’t sacrifice the activities you enjoy, and don’t let relationships with the people in your life deteriorate because you’re consumed by school. In the end, getting an A- instead of a B+ just doesn’t matter.

— Spencer Shih ’15, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

Stress is a great thing if you approach it the right way. I’m a fan of pressure, a fan of being tested by an issue, a negotiation, or, while at school, an exam. There’s no use lamenting the fact you are stressed. I like to use it to become focused and motivated to succeed. It might sound like a cliché, but pressure makes diamonds, and without it, they would just be plain and boring rocks.

— Dominic Rasini ’14, Simon Graduate School of Business, University of Rochester

I am thankful that I usually do not succumb to external pressure and stress, but the workload and commitments (classes, clubs, leadership, recruiting, and even social) at business school are often overwhelming. My husband lives with me in Ithaca and is not a student. We also have a beautiful and playful 6-month-old puppy. Coming home to them, hanging out and playing with them is the best way to relax, unwind, and decompress. I always make it a point to come home and take a break from school at least for an hour, if not two, even during particularly busy weeks. I usually watch TV or exercise or nap. It really helps me gather my thoughts, recharge, and prioritize my tasks.

— Arnab Mukherjee ’15, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

I handle stress by going out at least once a week. The MBA program is an experience that encompasses not only academics but also social interaction. This is the purpose of the program, and it is important to take time off, and go out with your classmates, and blow off some steam once in a while. There is a lot of work in this program, and it is not easy to get through, but it is much easier knowing that there are classmates who are there to support you along the way. This builds long-lasting relationships, and you will find that these relationships may bring great opportunities in the future.

— Ryan Wong, Ivey Business School, Western University


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