Changing stress into motivation


Isn’t it interesting that we often can’t access our creativity during the changing times that would benefit from our creativity and “out of the box” thinking because of our stress-induced anxiety? Stress is what shuts creativity down at the very times we need it the most. What if there was another way?
Change is stressful, we know that, but based on research an international expert neuroscientist, trained clinical psychologist, and Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, Ian Robertson, has identified a four-step process that we can use to “harnesses stress” changing our mindset from helplessness into one of control and positive energy which changes the brain (The Stress Test: How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper). Professor Robertson disagrees with common advice that people should avoid stress. Instead, he argues that “stress is important for achievement” and that it is possible to harness the stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) before they wreak havoc by following the four steps below:

  1. Tell your brain it is excited not anxious -- repeatedly telling the brain it is excited changes how it will perform. Cortisol is produced when you feel stressed OR pumped up. But how the mind reacts alters whether it is beneficial or detrimental. Trying to persuade the brain to be calm does not work.
  2. Breathe in slowly for five seconds then out for six - This changes the chemistry in the brain and acts like an anti-anxiety drug.
  3. Adopt a superhero posture - Pump the chest out and stand up tall, triggering the 'fight' rather than 'flight' emotion. This tricks the brain into feeling confident.
  4. Clench your right fist for 45 seconds, open it for 15 seconds, then close it again for 45 seconds. This switches on the left side of the brain to put you in a 'challenge' frame of mind, lessening anxiety, and improving performance. 
Professor Robertson cites research suggesting that children who grew up during the Depression were less depressed than children who grew up during the affluent 1990’s. In fact, the number of people who are being prescribed antidepressants since 2005 has doubled to 61 million a year.
Check out more about Brain Health on the Hello Brain app on Google Play or the interactive website .