I saw the sentence "Stress has been shown to annihilate our ability to retrieve old memories" in a Psychology today article recently, and it made me really stop to think deeply about how pervasive stress is, in our everyday life. We feel stressed when we get cut off in traffic, when we're arguing with children to "go to bed", when we are forced to wait in a long line, or when there's external expectations upon us to get something right. Everyday events that we often have little control over, can trigger a stress response within us, which research now shows "predicts poorer performance on tasks".
It begs the question, how can we expect ourselves to turn up and perform at our best when we are carrying unhealthy levels of every day stress - especially now we know that stress depletes and inhibits our ability to remember knowledge, facts, situations, or even words!
There is a strong connection here to a key element of my article posted last week, and that is, how can we coach ourselves to get our brain to move from a state of threat (stress) and into a state or reward (open and motivated). Here are some situational tips:
1. Reframe a Situation - focus on the upside of an opportunity like presenting to a client/Board, by leaning into the benefits of experience and exposure that you'll garner, rather than dwelling on fears of failure or getting caught up in perfectionism.
2. Choose Empathy - if you've been cut off in traffic, take a few minutes to put yourself in the other drivers shoes - maybe they're unfamiliar with their surroundings, perhaps they have a screaming child in the back seat, or maybe it was simply an error of judgment amidst a very hard day - no one is perfect and forgiveness helps everyone.
3. Decatastrophise - if you've missed out on a promotion, remind yourself that this wasn't your last chance for career progression and there will be other opportunities, use evidence to challenge the story you're currently telling yourself such as "My last performance review was great, I've received promotions in the past, and yes this hurts but I've bounced forward from difficult before and can do it again".
The more we can proactively practise resilience techniques like this in the moment, the quicker and more effectively we will be able to minimise the chemical reactions stress causes in our brain, and the greater chance we will have to remember, learn and perform.
If you enjoyed this article, please pay it forward by sharing it with someone who would benefit! You might also like to grab Alisa's FREE Performance Starter Kit to utilise some powerful resilience, wellbeing and performance resources. And, if you'd like more of Alisa's positive energy and practical expertise, book her as your next In-Person/Virtual Keynote Speaker!