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      Intersting - Article about making stress work

      I thought I would share this article I stumbled upon


      Why is it that some people react to seemingly trivial emotional upset – like failing an unimportant exam – with distress, while others power through life-changing tragedies showing barely any emotional upset whatsoever? How do some people shine brilliantly at public speaking when others stumble with their words and seem on the verge of an anxiety attack? Why do some people sink into all-consuming depression when life has dealt them a poor hand, while in others it merely increases their resilience? The difference between too much pressure and too little can result in either debilitating stress or enduring demotivation in extreme situations.

      However, the right level of challenge and stress can help people to flourish and achieve more than they ever thought possible. In The Stress Test, clinical psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Ian Robertson, armed with over four decades of research, reveals how we can shape our brain’s response to pressure and answers the question: can stress ever be a good thing? The Stress Test is a revelatory study of how and why we react to pressure in the way we do, with real practical benefit to how we live.

      Article in The Times news paper

      Subject: stress

      Forget relaxing - use your stress to become a high achiever

      Stress isn't so bad for you after all according to Dr Ian Robertson
      Science Editor
      10 July 2016 • 6:00am
      Take a slow deep breath, puff out your chest like Superman and read this story. It might just save your life.
      For one of Europe’s most eminent neuroscientists has devised a simple, four-point plan for channelling stress and turning it to one’s advantage.
      Professor Ian Robertson’s “four-step brain hack to harness stress” is, he insists, based on scientific research beginning with step one: tell yourself you are excited rather than stressed.
      Step two is breathe in slowly through the nose for five seconds and then exhale for six; while step three involves posing like a superhero, puffing out your chest and standing up tall.

      Wearing a cape is not vital. Step four requires you to squeeze your right hand shut for 45 seconds, open it for 15 and then shut it again. Simple.
      Andy Murray Sports stars like Andy Murray are experts at channeling stress hormones so they improve performance Credit: Telegraph
      Prof Robertson, chair of psychology at Trinity College Dublin, founder of the university’s Institute of neuroscience and author of The Stress Test: How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper, said channelling stress into a positive energy can radically improve performance and creativity, making people brighter and quicker.
      “Stress is a kind of energy that we can harness, “ said Prof Robertson.
      His viewpoint is at odds with current thinking which has demonised stress, blaming chronic anxiety for everything from obesity to cancer and premature ageing.
      Most psychologists and self-help guides encourage people to chase happiness, and steer clear of too much pressure. But Prof Robertson believes stress is important for achievement and teaches that it is possible to ‘hack’ the brain and hijack ‘fight or flight’ hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, before they cause problems.
      Prof Ian Robertson Prof Ian Robertson
      His four-step guide, he says, is underpinned by science. Even step one in which a person feeling stressed should simply say out loud, perhaps only once or twice: “I feel excited.”
      Prof Robertson said: “When you are facing up to a difficult situation and feeling anxious, it’s enough to say ‘I feel excited’ once out loud and that tricks your brain. It changes the mindset from ‘threat’ to ‘challenging’.”
      Step two requires the person to control their breathing.
      “By controlling breathing you can control the critical part of the brain and in that way exercise control over the emotional stage you are experiencing. When we are anxious, we forget to breath,” he said.
      One tip: breathe in through the nose, nice and slowly.
      The idea of step three - of striking a Superhero pose - might look odd in the street but, according to prof Robertson, it has been found to increase testosterone levels in both men and women.
      The Stress Test The Stress Test
      That in itself is enough to make you feel more confident in the face of a stressful challenge.
      The fourth and final tip is to squeeze the hand and then release it and repeat.
      “Squeezing the hand gives a little boost to the brain. It increases activity in the left side of the brain. I always do it a few times before nerve-wracking presentations.”
      Prof Robertson explained: “The stress hormone cortisol is a symptom of anxiety, but also excitement. When you are anxious or excited you can feel your heart going bang, bang, bang, and the same hormone affects you differently only depending on the context that your mind imposes upon it.
      “If you are anxious cortisol will impede performance, but if you are excited, we know that it boosts performance. “There are so many little mind hacks we can use on the brain. It’s a programmable machine.”
      According to Dr Robertson, stressful situations and life traumas can trigger incredible feats of creativity which allow people to achieve far more than they would have in happier times.
      It is no coincidence that many of the greatest artistic endeavours emerged from bleak periods in an artist’s life.
      A protest march during the Great Depression Americans who grew up in the Great Depression were much less depressed that those who grew up in the 90s
      It is thought that emotional upsets which trigger an emotional retreat in the mind activate the left side of the brain which allows for greater creative thought.
      Conversely, people who never experience setbacks are often low achievers or become depressed.
      Research has shown that people who grew up in buoyant economic times, with the assurance of a good education and job, tend to be more narcissistic and less happy than people who grow up during a recession.
      “The wider economic and political environment moulds the personalities of people at this crucial period in their lives when their adult personalities and values are being formed,” said Prof Robertson.
      “Tough economic times create people who tend to be more cautious, risk-averse and grateful for what they have got. The challenge of making a living in difficult times means they are less restless and more content with their lot.
      “Good times can breed a restless striving for more of the same. Easy times create more unhappiness.”
      Two men in the Great Depression Difficult times make people appreciate their lives
      Studies in the US have shown that the depression among young adults was far lower in the Great Depression of the 1930s than in the prosperous America of the 1990s in spite of high employment and good standards of living.
      Over the past ten years the number of people taking antidepressants has rocketed, with prescriptions doubling to 61 million a year since 2005.
      But Prof Robertson believe that it is possible to take back control of the mind.
      “I want everyone to believe that they can control the most complex organ in the known universe, the brain.
      “I do worry that we are over-medicating people because of a belief that we can’t control what is happening in our minds. We can impose the emotional state on a minds so that we can achieve what we want to achieve.”
      The Stress Test is published by Bloomsbury The Stress Test is published by Bloomsbury
      Last edited by Patience108; 07-15-2016 at 08:57 PM.
      Love to be lucid

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