Daniel Levitin: How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed
Stress affects us all, and no more so than in the workplace. The chemicals, adrenaline and hormones which build up in our systems in response to the pressures of everyday life have no way to dissipate in our modern lives, and the effects of this can be serious enough to cause significant physical and psychological damage.
Stress Awareness Day aims to promote awareness of these particularly modern challenges, and to aid individuals and organisations in changing behaviours and lifestyles which may lead to excessive stress.
You’re not at your best when you’re stressed. In fact, your brain has evolved over millennia to release cortisol in stressful situations, inhibiting rational, logical thinking but potentially helping you survive, say, being attacked by a lion. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin thinks there’s a way to avoid making critical mistakes in stressful situations, when your thinking becomes clouded — the pre-mortem.
“I think the important point here is recognizing that all of us are flawed. We all are going to fail now and then. The idea is to think ahead to what those failures might be, to put systems in place that will help minimize the damage, or to prevent the bad things from happening in the first place.“