When it comes to dealing with stress, I’m sure you’ve heard enough about positive thinking, meditation and yoga for a lifetime. But if you’re looking for some practical strategies that you can use today, then you’ll love this TED talk from Daniel Levitin.
In a nutshell, our brains evolved to be aware of our surroundings and on alert for possible threats. But now in our modern world, with so many things to worry about, we’re constantly worried and it’s overburdened our natural response system.
According to Neuroscientist, Dean Burnett:
“You have to think about the brain as evolving over millions of years. A tendency to be afraid of anything unusual seems like paranoia by our modern standards but is very good in an evolutionary sense. A branch snapping in the woods or a shadow could be, for a more simple creature, a genuine predator or threat. So a consciousness or unconscious system that constantly says, “What’s that? Is it dangerous? What’s that? Is it dangerous?” is a really good survival strategy.”
Over time, the brain evolved to maintain that level of apprehension and watchfulness. We have a threat-detection system that takes in sensory information and tags anything unusual or unknown or potentially dangerous, based on memories and biological instinct, as scary. That’s what’s kept us alive for millions of years. It’s just that now we’ve become sophisticated to the point where we’ve tamed our environment. It’s overkill.”
Image credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT
Dr. Levitin developed a simple technique to help you manage almost any stressful situation or event. You simply visualize the worst-case scenario of what could go wrong in a given situation and then imagine what you might do to minimize the damage. He calls it doing a “pre-mortem.”
In this brilliant TED talk, Daniel Levitin explains how you can do a pre-mortem. Some of them are obvious. Some of them aren’t. Check it out:
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