How To Manage Stress In A Positive Way
All of us have felt stressed at some point—for example, when we feel that time is running out on some task that must be completed by a certain deadline. Yet with the help of memory training, we can learn to cope with stressful situations.
Try it! Take a stopwatch and select one of the exercises you enjoyed from this or another chapter. It does not really matter whether the subject is numbers, words, or playing cards. See if you can take on more items than usual this time. If you can normally memorize sixty numbers in five minutes, try eighty. Imagine that you can do it easily, because if you assume from the beginning that won’t be able to do it, you’ll miss the point of this exercise. Put yourself under pressure and deliberately cause yourself some stress. It might not work the first time, but that’s okay. Stress often leads to blocked thinking, so it’s important that you learn to handle your anxiety gradually. Increase the pressure slowly. If you normally train with a stopwatch, you can get a grip on your stress and learn to control it, as your performance improves, you’ll know that you can achieve whatever you demand of yourself within a set time.
Make a habit of occasionally observing how long you need for each kind of activity. How long does it take to get to work, read your morning mail, read two pages of a professional journal, fill the dishwasher, or take letters to the post office? Don’t set up any unrealistic expectations for yourself, as this will have a negative effect if you can’t meet them. Only when you know or can estimate how much time you need for certain activities, can you plan the course of your day and achieve a lot without becoming unduly stressed. Th is will improve your time management and have a beneficial effect on both your brain and your body.
Th e memory researcher H. J. Markowitsch developed a visual image for this. Imagine your nerve cells as trees. With positive stress, new branches, twigs, and leaves are constantly being formed, but with negative stress, the branches die and the trees lose their leaves.
Many people say they can only work well under stress. Th is so called controlled stress strengthens the links within the brain, stimulates the metabolism, and allows the brain to work at its highest capacity.