Stress is considered the unseen monster that terrorizes its victims whilst going unnoticed until its too late. Sleepless nights, teeth crunching, hair pulling and sudden outburst are all but too common. Most people find ways to deal with their unforeseen attacks by taking on exercise, meditation, adrenaline inducing activities and others just take on self-destructive behaviours such as binging on drugs, alcohol and sex. Not everyone is able to cope well with stress and harness its productive potential.
A cognitive neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin and author of the upcoming book ‘The Stress Test: How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper,” Ian Robertson, says that while too much stress can be draining, a moderate amount is extremely good for the mind. He explains that stress causes the brain to secrete a chemical called noradrenaline. The brain doesn’t perform at its best with too little or too much of this chemical. But “there’s a sweet spot in the middle where if you have just the right amount, the goldilocks zone of noradrenaline, that acts like the best brain-tuner.”
Not everyone handles stress the same way. Some become overly anxious and find stress to be an insurmountable burden rather than a stimulant. But, Robertson says that there are distinct techniques we can learn in order to change our approach to stress. “We can change the chemistry of the brain just as much as any antidepressant or anti-anxiety drug can, but we have to learn the habits to do that,” he says.
Robertson says it helps to conceive of stress as a challenge rather than a threat. “Making that mental switch, just re-framing it reduces stress and improves performance,” he adds. And finally, faking it until you make it really does work. “If you adopt the external manifestation of confidence and positivity, you can trick your brain into creating the mental correlates of that fake external posture,” says Robertson.
Original Article appeared in Quartz