Wait, stress can be a good thing?

3 ways to make stress your bitch

Looming deadlines, incessant emails and endless social media comparisons spurring you to try harder, achieve more, do more... just your average Tuesday, right? We’re all operating at this kind of level on a daily basis, and it is, potentially, a problem. So much so, that the World Health Organisation has recently declared burnout an “occupational phenomenon.”

The culprit? Chronic stress. But, is that really the cause, or is it just how we react to it?

It’s widely acknowledged that stress is a Bad Thing, that should be avoided as much as possible - in pursuit of the evasive balance. But, according to Stanford’s Dr Kelly McGonigal, in reality;

“Stress is evolution's biological mechanism to help us engage with, and adapt to life. It can force you to clarify your values and priorities, and help you rise to a challenge. It is necessary for learning and growing, and it can often be a catalyst for strengthening and increasing social connections.”

Huh.

So, it’s not the tool’s fault, it’s how you use it?

Exactly. Put simply, stress is your body’s natural response when something you care about is at stake. And yes, it can make you feel overwhelmed and tense and all kinds of rubbish, but studies have found that a change in your mindset towards stress can help you to alter your mental, emotional and physiological responses to it. So, in understanding that your body’s stress responses (more on those here) are actually designed to help you in life, not hinder you - stress can be a positive thing.

Here are 3 ways to take full advantage of stress

  1. Press reset

Next time you notice telltale stress signals like a faster heartbeat or a churning stomach, remind yourself that this is because something matters to you, and that the way you are feeling is a sign that your body is rising to the challenge.

1. Choose the right response

Knowing the different types of stress response is a useful tool to help you pick the right one for the job. Do you need to fight, freeze, face the challenge head-on or be brave and ask for help?

2. Show your appreciation

Be grateful for the people around you that contribute to your life in a positive way, and mean that you are able to take on the things that matter. Doing this regularly fosters your need to connect, help others and seek out people who might help you.

FOR THE NERDY: Stress - not that bad? [Source: Psychology Today]

Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.

Name *
Name
Choose the day you receive your newsletter.
 

BRAIN FOOD - CHICKPEA PASTA WITH CREMY AVOCADO MINT SAUCE

avo-pasta

We dare any pasta-fiend not to fall in love with this cacio e pepe-esque bowl of vegan, gluten- and dairy-free deliciousness. It comes courtesy of Manhattan-based corporate lawyer and health coach in training, Lauren Paylor, aka @bougiebutbalanced.

“Avocados and extra virgin olive oil are high in monounsaturated fats, and hemp seeds contain polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the optimal anti-inflammatory ratio of 2:1. Combined, these ingredients make a powerful sauce that will please your brain as well as your taste buds.”                                                                                                                  

-Lauren

Why is it good for my brain?

Good fats are rife in this recipe, with avos and EVOO both offering sweet protection from cognitive decline. Chickpeas are an excellent source of magnesium (tricky to get from the average diet), which helps brain cell receptors stay in tip top form and relaxes blood vessels, maximising blood flow to the brain. To top off this brain-friendly smorgasbord, broccoli contains folic acid, which is linked to a reduction in depressive symptoms and is key for the production of neurotransmitters.

See the full recipe here.

FOR THE NERDY: Read more with our handy A-Z of brain food [source: trydawn.co].

WHAT WE LOVE THIS WEEK 

Watch: What actually happens in the brain when depression hits? An interesting breakdown on the amygdala, the effects of serotonin and why promoting neurogenesis could help. (youtube)

Read: “It’s so fluffy I wanna squeeze it and squeeze it and squeeze and…” Cute aggression is a real thing, and affects more people than you realise. Here’s the science behind this common but creepy af method of handling extreme cuteness. (neurosciencenews)

Listen: Wake up, check your emails, breakfast meeting, co-working space for an hour, play foosball with a peer, networking party, get to your deadlines tonight… The BBC explores the wework phenomenon to ask if modern working methods are doing us harm. (BBC Beyond Today)

Follow: Is your GI tract a mystery to you? Follow @thegutstuff to get clued up on all things digestion.

This unexpected departure (about 7 days warning,) sent me into a bit of a frenzy, meaning I was saying no to a lot and going into priority overdrive. On Wednesday, after an especially busy day spent telling everyone how busy I was, I passed a homeless lady, Michelle, on the street with her dog, Buster, in floods of tears. I suddenly felt compelled to be less busy and give her the time to chat. In the end, I put her and Buster up in a hostel for the next 2 weeks and had a lovely conversation-shifting my perspective to realise how lucky I (and many of us) are to be busy. I have spent the rest of the week feeling like it's a privilege, not a burden.

Do you feel like you're also too busy? If so, what are you working on and how do you keep your perspective? I'm curious, hit reply, I'm never too busy to respond to people trying to reach their Heights!

Dan