Under stress, the brain releases cortisol, this process is partly mediated by the amygdala which is part of the reptilian (primitive, automatic) brain.
This causes a cascade of bodily events where adrenaline is released, and your body tries to conserve energy to deal with the crisis. Thus, a bunch of bodily functions shut down, including your immune system, your reproductive system, your nervous system and your ability to reason.
For the modern conflict and stress, that we deal with today, this reptilian brain isn't the best brain for the job.
TedTalk speaker and best selling author, Dr. Daniel Levitin warns that under stress, we won't be at our best and should put certain systems in place to survive.
Start by identifying what situations stress you out.
Knowing you're not at your best under pressure, plan what you will do to cope with stress. Walk through a potential crisis situation like a car accident, a house fire or any future conflict. Imagine what will go wrong and what you can do to cope. What resources, people or coping mechanisms can you rally to support you? Role plays conflict or crisis until you discover the best way through it.
Visualize a stressful situation in advance, so when it happens you will feel much more relaxed and confident.
Also, take care of yourself. If you don't take care of yourself, you will be vulnerable to stress. I know that if I have been traveling a lot, not eating properly and not getting enough sleep, I will not handle stress very well. If something stressful is approaching, nurture your energy levels and build up some resilience with good food, sleep, exercise and other healthy habits.
Laugh at yourself. Don't take yourself or any upcoming stressful event too seriously. If you can stop taking the situation personally, you can disengage from stressful feelings about it.
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If you plan for stress in advance, your worry levels will decrease and you don't have to think about it when it actually happens. You're prepared.
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