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Responding to Stress in Stressful Times

Exploration—Engaging in discussion at the event, Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 16, 2024. Photo by Ikeda Center.

by Mitch Bogen
Special to the Tribune

The first Dialogue Nights of 2024 operated under the assumption that stress is, in the words of event moderator Preandra Noel, a “shared reality” these days.

“Given this,” she explained, “we want to explore how we can not only manage our stress but use it as a tool to not just survive, but to thrive in our day to day.”

Called “How Can I Respond to Stress in Stressful Times?,” the Feb. 16 event was attended by nearly 60 Boston-area university students and young professionals, many of whom were first-time Dialogue Nights attendees.

To open, Noel introduced the framework of “Fight, Flight or Freeze” to help participants analyze their stress responses. Fight might mean responding with harsh or mean words; flight could manifest as avoiding the source of our stress; and freeze could take the form of us shutting down or isolating.

“All of these,” said Noel, “keep us from either releasing the stress from our bodies or using it as a positive, motivational force.” This latter idea was illuminated in one of Daisaku Ikeda’s quotes Noel shared to guide the evening’s discussion: “Coping successfully with stress requires that we try to see ourselves in a different light. We need a deeper understanding of our truly limitless potentialities as well as our vulnerabilities, and how we can develop our strengths as individuals through mutual support” (Hope Is a Decision, p. 33).

One participant confirmed Mr. Ikeda’s insight during an open discussion. Recently, for the first time in his life he’d had to go to medical urgent care. He soon found himself alone in a room feeling anxious and confused.

At that very moment, his friend texted to check in with him, and later that day, took him out for dinner. With these simple gestures, said the speaker, his friend became a lifesaver and revealed how precious it is to have people in your life who care.

As the evening concluded, Noel reinforced the evening’s message, saying, “Whenever you get stressed, just remember we can be stressed together and release it together.” 

—For more on the event, visit the Ikeda Center website at

April 5, 2024, World Tribune, p. 4

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