“Just Say No” — I want you to apply this slogan to your negative thoughts. Allowing negative thoughts to be on a loop is harmful. It’s important to recognize its presence and speak back to it. For my clients, I encourage them to write down their negative beliefs so we can challenge them in session together.

With all that’s going on in our country, in our economy, in the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. We know that chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. For many of us, our work, our livelihood, is a particular cause of stress. Of course, a bit of stress is just fine, but what are stress management strategies that leaders use to become “Stress-Proof” at work? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help to reduce or even eliminate stress from work? As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Natasha Manning-Gibbs.

Dr. Natasha Manning-Gibbs is a skilled and passionate licensed psychologist specializing in the treatment of stress, depression, anxiety and anger. Her passion and practice is helping clients navigate life’s difficult situations, providing fresh perspective and support to help them live a more fulfilling life.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!

When I reflect on the past 25 years of my life, I’m amazed by my journey. In 1998, I became a teenage mother who was uncertain about what my future held. At that time, if someone had told me that I would have my PhD by 30 years old, a thriving private practice, and an overall fulfilling career shortly thereafter, I would have been reluctant to believe them. You see, teen moms aren’t supposed to graduate from high school, and I knew that if high school was a reach, then pursuing college was equal to shooting for the moon.

Going from being a teenage mother to attaining a PhD was not an easy feat. I accomplished my academic goals through the love and support of my family and mentor that lifted me up along my journey.

The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”, was never truer than when I was pursuing my degrees. My parents have always been my rock. Loving me despite my shortcomings and believing in my ability to succeed despite obstacles that came my way. Having that foundation significantly contributed to me graduating from high school and gave me the confidence to pursue higher education.

In college, I was blessed to cross paths with Dr. Guerda Nicolas who was the first black psychologist I ever met. When I initially met her in my Child Psychology course, she epitomized who I eventually wanted to become. She was a brilliant professor that graciously guided me on the academic path I needed to pursue to attain my PhD. So, when you ask how I got from “there to here”, it ultimately was my village that lifted, encouraged, and guided me from the uncertainty of teenage motherhood to being a licensed psychologist on a mission to help people climb their own mountains.

What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

As I mentioned before, I was a teenage mother. Although my son is the greatest gift I’ve ever received, when I first discovered I was pregnant I immediately felt like a failure. I knew the disappointment my parents and teachers would feel. I was aware of the grim statistics of teenage mothers, which further fed my disappointment. I learned many lessons during that time, but the most invaluable is captured by my favorite quote, “obstacles are only seen when you take your eyes off your goals”. Rather than dwell on statistics or the opinions of others, it was vitally important for me to keep what I wanted to accomplish in the forefront. I consider that mindset invaluable because it helped me during that and other difficult times in my life; therefore, if I had the opportunity to meet my younger self I would tell her to never doubt her ability to succeed even when life throws a curveball her way.

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?

I’m so grateful for my mother. My mother has been in Christian ministry my entire life and there were countless times she modeled the importance of being compassionate. I clearly recall one instance when I was 8 years old. We were out running Saturday morning errands. She parked in front of a park bench where an unhoused elderly woman was sitting. I immediately spotted the woman and became uncomfortable and hoped we would be able to keep our distance from her. In my young developing mind, that woman was equivalent to the boogie man. Well, my compassionate mother clearly did not read my mind at that moment, because she asked the woman her name as she was feeding a coin into the parking meter. I was stunned. She then walked closer to the woman and spoke lovingly to her while I stood on the sidelines fighting every urge to pull her away. The most impactful lesson from that moment was when my mother later drilled into my mind that everyone deserves respect and compassion.

In my field, if you don’t have compassion you can forget about making any progress with clients. I genuinely sympathize and empathize with each of my clients not because I was trained to do it, but because it’s been ingrained in me from a young age. I believe my clients sense that during our work and thrive because of it. Compassion ultimately is a key variable needed to reach therapeutic goals.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

I’m excited to continue building a community through my social media platforms on Instagram and Tik Tok, where I share practical tips to help people #StressLess. We’re having conversations about self-care, practicing gratitude, the effectiveness of deep breathing/meditation, and challenging negative cognitions;

just to name a few. I love that social media provides a space to educate and inform people about positive coping skills. There are so many mental health professionals on these platforms, sharing their knowledge and expertise. I’m thrilled to be a part of the virtual mental health movement.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?

Stress is when we feel overwhelmed by a circumstance. It’s a type of psychological pain. It can be caused by major threats like being harmed by someone, an Illness, experiencing financial issues, or community violence. Stress can also result from smaller problems like an argument with your family or uncertainty about the future.

In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?

Having our basic human needs met isn’t enough to ward off chronic stress. If we look at the past three years, we will undoubtedly see that external factors play a big part in our stress levels. In the USA during March of 2020, most people suddenly had their lives interrupted by a major threat of illness and financial concerns which subsequently led to stress being at an all-time high.

A poll conducted by the American Psychological Association in March of 2022, revealed that the top sources of stress were inflation (cited by 87% of people), supply chain issues (81%), global uncertainty (81%) and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (80%). These data points illustrate how much external situations impact our stress levels.

However, even prior to the pandemic, chronic stress has been a constant presence in many people’s lives. I believe one reason for this is that many people are not aware of effective stress management tools. Complete transparency, I did not know about them either until I entered graduate school. It can be easy to think, “I just have to live with chronic stress”, but the reality is that there are effective tools that can help disentangle us from the grips of ongoing stress. Meditation, gratitude journaling, exercise, socializing, are just a few tools that research has consistently relieved are effective for stress management.

What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?

Stress affects the body in several ways. More specifically, let’s look at the different areas of the body that researchers have identified as being impacted by stress:


There are countless studies on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), but one published in November 2021 in JAMA is worth noting. The study investigated the association between psychosocial stress and the development of CVD among individuals from 21 countries across 5 continents and found that stress was independently associated with a higher risk of CVD and deaths. Stress has the potential to kill us.


Tension headaches and migraines are more likely to occur when you’re stressed. Stress is a common trigger for headaches/migraines and has even been found to make them worse.


The relationship between stress and gastrointestinal distress is complex and bidirectional: stress can trigger and worsen gastrointestinal pain and other symptoms, and vice versa.

Adrenal glands:

Fatigue, irritability, and fogginess have all been connected to chronic stress. Our body’s produce certain hormones via our adrenal glands when stressful situations arise. The overproduction of one specific hormone, cortisol, can cause constant fatigue.


Stress can cause sleep deprivation. Chronically being in a state of heightened alertness can delay the onset of sleep and cause rapid, anxious thoughts to occur at night. According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, 43 percent of people aged 13–64 have reported lying awake at night due to stress at least once in the past month.

Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?

No, stress isn’t entirely bad for us. We are all wired with a Stress Response, which is a survival mechanism that prepares us to change our physical or mental state to escape from a situation or face it head-on — Fight or Flight. If a bear is chasing us, we want our stress response to work in order to keep us safe.

Is there a difference between being in a short term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?

A little bit of stress is not a problem, but very high stress or chronic stress often affects the body and, as I highlighted earlier, can even lead to death.

Is it even possible to eliminate stress?

Trying to completely eliminate stress from our lives can actually trigger stress. Therefore, rather than attempting to avoid traffic, illness, and countless other circumstances that are normal part of the human experience, I’d prefer that people lean into incorporating stress management tools into their daily lives.

In your opinion, is this something that we should be raising more awareness about, or is it a relatively small issue? Please explain what you mean.

I am a staunch believer that without mental health you cannot have overall well-being. Historically, our society has placed a lot of focus on taking care of our bodies. I have no objections to that, but we must put an equal emphasis on mental health. Stress management is one way to achieve mental wellbeing. In my many years of clinical experience, I have seen first-hand how debilitating stress, depression, and anxiety can be. I view those conditions as “dark holes” that have the power to suck you in and not want to spit you out. When we stay in the metaphorical hole for too long, it breaks down the mind, body and spirit. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to live indefinitely in those conditions because they are treatable. I’m passionate about helping people understand that because without this knowledge it can be easy to stay in that dark place, impacting not only the individual, but also everyone connected to them.

Let’s talk about stress at work. Numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. For you personally, if you are feeling that overall, work is going well, do you feel calm and peaceful, or is there always an underlying feeling of stress? Can you explain what you mean?

For me personally, I am currently at peace in my career, and I attribute it to practicing what I preach. There have certainly been times when I felt extremely stressed. Specifically, in March of 2020 my stress level skyrocketed. I found myself dealing with sleep issues, backaches and even hair loss. My personal experience with chronic stress has deepened my resolve to teach people about effective stress management techniques that have positively impacted my life and the lives of many of my clients.

Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that busy leaders can use to become “Stress-Proof” at Work?” Please share a story or example for each.

“Just Say No” — I want you to apply this slogan to your negative thoughts. Allowing negative thoughts to be on a loop is harmful. It’s important to recognize its presence and speak back to it. For my clients, I encourage them to write down their negative beliefs so we can challenge them in session together.

Maintain a Healthy Diet — Our microbiome plays a significant role in how we feel. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (i.e., chemical messenger) that is involved in regulating our moods. Research indicates that close to 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin is manufactured in the gut. When you feel stressed, anxious, and depressed, check what’s on your plate. Are you eating foods rich in amino acids? If not, here are a few to incorporate into your diet: salmon, nuts, oats, turkey, chicken, chocolate. Please consult with your physician to explore which amino rich foods items are best for you.

Be social — When we are not connected to family and friends it can easily trigger and maintain negative emotions. We are hardwired to be social; therefore, when we are not socially engaged it affects our circuity. It may not be realistic to go out every night but commit to connecting with others bi-weekly or at minimum monthly.

Get Moving! — Dopamine is another neurotransmitter commonly known as the “feel good” hormone because it plays a role in feeling happiness, reward, and pleasure. One way to harness it is by getting your body in motion — exercise!

Practice gratitude: Say thank you to someone you appreciate — depression can blind us to the good people do. Therefore, consciously thanking people who support you can be rewarding and fulfilling for both parties.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

The Tim Ferris Show is one of my favorite podcasts. @TimFerris has lived an extraordinary life and graciously shares what has allowed him to do so in many of his episodes. He interviews thought leaders who share nuggets of wisdom on how we can live more meaningful, and healthy lives.

The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle — This is one of my favorite books to tap into when my stress begins creeping up due to an overactive mind.

Music — having a rough or stressful day? Create an uplifting playlist that can help counteract what you’ve been feeling. I do this all the time. It’s tried and true.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d create a daily Mind, Body, and Soul check-in. Everyone would have to stop what they are doing daily at 1pm to ask themselves, “how is my mind, body and soul” feeling at this moment. I believe this check-in would help people develop the habit of connecting with these areas of our being and give us the opportunity to recalibrate as needed.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

Readers can follow along on instagram @drmanninggibbs where I share various stress management techniques and at https://www.drmanninggibbs.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.


  • Savio Clemente

    Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Media Journalist, #1 Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor

    The Human Resolve LLC

    Savio P. Clemente is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), media journalist, #1 best-selling author, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.  He coaches cancer survivors to overcome obstacles, gain clarity, and attract media attention by sharing their superpower through inspiring stories that make a difference. He inspires them to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. 

    Savio has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad.  His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.