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Recently, we hosted NFL quarterback EJ Manuel, 2x James Beard award winning chef Traci Des Jardins, Associate Chair of Stanford Psychiatry Dr. David Spiegel, and disaster relief expert Justin Dombrowski to talk about how to keep focused during times of high stress.

PeerWell Crew

We will be doing a series on what was talked at the latest PeerWell Exchange panel discussion.

Our first post comes from advice shared by Dr. Spiegel. In addition to his duties in the Stanford Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences department, Dr. Spiegel is the Director of the Center on Stress & Health.

At the close of the panel, Dr. Spiegel wrapped up the discussion by sharing the F.A.C.E.S. method of stress management with the audience. We thought FACES was so useful, we would share it here.

Dr. Spiegel on Stress Management through F.A.C.E.S.:

[F]ace rather than flee

“If you have a problem, face it rather than run away.” Running away from your problems does not make them go away. Working through them in a constructive manner is the only way to put them to bed for good.

[A]lter your perception

Reframe the situation or focus on aspects of it that you can derive value from. Dr. Spiegel used an example given by fellow panelist EJ Manuel who talked about how he coped with losing his starting spot in his second season. “In EJ’s example he got through it by expanding his understanding to more than one role. It’s not just to be the starting quarterback, it is also to inspire the team and help the other players.”

[C]ope actively

There is no situation you can’t do something about. “I deal with dying patients all the time,” Dr. Speigel began. “I can’t keep them from dying… I can’t keep any of us from dying. But you can think a lot about how you are going to live in the face of death.”

[E]xpress Emotion

“Emotion is not your enemy, it is your friend. You can sometimes overdo it and get in trouble, but generally it is a helpful system. Your emotions are there to help you figure out what’s important and what isn’t. Your brain process more a lot more information than most computers and what keeps it manageable is our emotion system saying this matters and the rest doesn’t. So when you think about emotion, use it to identify what matters.”

[S]ocial Support

“We are not independant individuals we are social creatures. We can handle stress a lot better when we do it together.”


Face your situation, think about it in a broader sense, cope actively, use your emotion constructively and rely on others.

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