Stress makes you stupid?! 5 ways to kick stress to the curb

Have you ever felt like you can’t cope with the overwhelming demands of everyday life?

Do you ever find yourself feeling so stressed you can’t focus?

Have you ever felt so stressed you yell at your partner or children?

Do you ever suffer with ongoing headaches and muscle tension in your shoulders?

Say hello to stress…

We all lead busy lives and with that comes a certain level of stress. Stress is a normal part of life. The human body is designed to deal with stress. Your body releases hormones to help you tackle high-pressure situations.

However, we are NOT designed to be under stress all the time.

The really bad news is that stress permeates every area of your life. From your health and wellbeing; your productivity at work; your finances; to your relationship with your family. 

The goal is not to get rid of the stress in your life completely; it’s to create a life with more Eustress (stress that helps you thrive), with less chronic stress (that negatively impacts you). 

Here are the facts…

In short-term stressful situations your body releases the hormone, adrenalin to help you tackle high-pressure situations (your flight, fight or freeze response). Your body has another stress hormone, cortisol that it releases over a longer period of time in situations of prolonged stress.

So, what has this got to do with stress making you stupid?

I’m glad you asked…

Your brain needs blood to function, right?

Well, as Dr Bruce Lipton explains…the pre-frontal cortex is your intelligence centre where you process thoughts and decisions. But, stress can trigger a fear response in the body…the flight/fight or freeze response. This a hardwired primal instinct that occurs unconsciously in your brain.

The stress hormones cause the blood vessels in the pre-frontal cortex to constrict and the blood is shunted to the hind brain (the unconscious part of the brain). Then your behavior and actions are being controlled by reactive reflexive behavior instead of controlled conscious thinking and processing.

Unfortunately, you can’t be resourceful and solution orientated if you have less blood in your decision making centre….and, you won’t be able to because your body has gone into survival mode. 

So what is the solution?

Is it to meditate all day like a Buddhist monk?

Is it quit your job and move to a tropical island?

Or maybe just stick your head in the sand and hope it just disappears?

I don’t think so!

Try these instead…5 ways to kick stress to the curb –

1.     Be Flexible

·      Have a plan in place but realise that things don’t always go exactly to plan. And be ok with that.

·      The less you hold onto how things ‘should’ be, the less stressed you’ll be. And this allows then allows you to be more resourceful.

2.     Get it All Out

·      Make one master list of all your ‘to-do’s’. Get them out of your head, gather up all your post-it notes, reminders on your phone, emails on your computer. Then they are not distracting you and pulling your focus from the task at hand.

3.     Top 3 Tasks

·      Pick the 3 most important things to do today. Ask yourself “If I only did these 3 things would this allow me to have the best results in that area of my life?”

4.     Take Time Out

·      You need to allow yourself to take time out to rest and recover. Otherwise you run the risk of falling back into that stress mode. Light exercise or a break from the computer for a short period can make a huge difference to your productivity and focus. I always encourage people the move their body – we are not designed to be stationary!

5.     Breathe

·      Become aware of your breathing pattern when you’re stressed…is it deep or shallow? Fast or slow? Or are you holding your breath? Just taking 5 deep abdominal breaths can increase the oxygen to your brain.

If you take the time to be kinder to yourself and do these consistently you’ll find that your stress will have much less of an impact on your ability to be resourceful and make sound decisions.

Remember, YOU have the power to steer your own course in life.