Professor Pete Alexander

Stress Relief Tool – Keep a Kudos File

Learn how keeping a kudos (praise) file can help reduce your stress at work.

We all have them – those days at work when you wonder what are you making all this effort for, only to be criticized for something minor. And it is human nature to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.1

A great way to snap out of the negative feelings of getting criticized is to create and refer to a file that includes all praise you have received in the past – whether it is via email, text messages, awards you have received or hand written notes people have sent you. When you are feeling down about your work, open up this file and take a look at one or more items of praise you have received in the past. Research shows that people benefit significantly from positive feedback about their strengths and contributions. It fosters healthy emotions, builds personal agency and resourcefulness, and helps to strengthen the quality of our relationships with colleagues, friends and family members.2

During my twelve years teaching college students marketing strategy, I saved copies of several hundred course reviews I received from my students. When something didn’t go right in the classroom, I would refer to this file to remind me why I was working so hard (and being paid so little) to make a positive learning environment. Reading what previous students said about my teaching style motivated me to keep doing it. One of my favorites is a hand-written card I received from a student from a Friday night class I had back in 2005:

Dear Professor Alexander,

Just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful and fun quarter. Never thought school and class, on a Friday night, could be that much fun and enriching. You made coming to school worthwhile rather than a chore. Rarely have I enjoyed a class more than yours. Thank you for being a great teacher!

With sincere gratitude,

Laura S.

This and many, many other thank you notes my students provided me still reinforce the difference I have made and help me get in touch with my “super power.”

What can you draw from your past that can go in your kudos file?

Please note that there is no guarantee a particular stress relief tool will work for you. Thus you must take complete responsibility for using them and for your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Further, Professor Pete Alexander is not a licensed health professional. Please consult qualified health practitioners regarding your use of any stress relief technique. Medical advice must only be obtained from a physician or qualified health practitioner.

  1. Tugend, A. – Praise Is Fleeting, But Brickbats We Recall
  2. Roberts, L.M., et al – To Become Your Best Self, Study Your Successes

Posted by Professor Pete Alexander

A seasoned professional with over 35 years of Sales, Marketing, Educational and Entrepreneurial experience, Pete has battled the negative effects of stress head-on and has developed the LIGHTEN™ stress relief model that motivates his peers to better protect their health and handle challenging situations with grace and success.

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