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Stress Makes You Stupid – And How You Need To Be Smarter Than That

Stress Makes You Stupid – And How You Need To Be Smarter Than That I am a true expert on the topic of how stupid stress makes a person, and the child of another expert.

Only, my mother never really noticed how BADLY her stress and fear levels influenced her, what TERRIBLE business and life decisions she made, and how her constant stress and fear about health, safety, money and survival issues COMPLETELY RUINED HER LIFE.

HER stress very nearly ruined mine, into the bargain. Here’s just a single grandiose example of hundreds. She was offered a field to buy as a courtesy by a farmer for just $50,000. She could have easily raised a mortgage but was too afraid to take the opportunity. Just one year later, a new road was built and that same field sold for 1 ¾ MILLION Dollars.

Did she cry?

You bet she did.

Did she ever forgive herself for that decision? Of course she didn’t. I still haven’t!

But it never changed anything. All her bad experiences taught her no lesson because when you are as stressed as she was, you just can’t think straight.

Here’s why.

Fear causes adrenaline to be released into our bodies and systems. That in turn causes tunnel vision – you can’t see the bigger picture anymore. That in turn makes you to make decisions which aren’t based on the full facts, but only on a small part – just what’s right in front of your nose.

  • No matter how clever you are normally, or how high your IQ is, when you are stressed, you get more and more stupid.

Intelligent people who can’t seem to make good decisions are virtually guaranteed to suffer from that completely systemic tunnel vision problem which happens under stress.

And of course, it gets worse.

The more bad decisions you make, the more fire fighting you have to do as a direct result to deal with the problems that your last lot of bad decisions have caused. You have to work harder and harder, and even whilst you are trying to solve the problems that came directly from your last lot of bad decisions, whatever solutions you come up with are bound to be flawed, wrong, nonsensical AGAIN – and will cause even FURTHER problems, and even further stress.

Until you die of a heart attack.

My mother was a highly intelligent woman but she was very stressed as a matter of fact, and always fearful about not having enough money or what the future might hold. As soon as any bill came in, she would literally freak out and start wailing, and then go and do some mad random thing from that STATE to better the situation.

Frankly, it was a hopeless struggle and it was painful to have to live that, experience that for a role model.

It taught me the value of such things however and so the first thing we must do in order to put ourselves in a place where we can much more rationally assess what we want to do, and what we NEED TO DO in order to get what we want, is to cure ourselves of fear and stress - period.

  • The first thing is to KNOW WHEN YOU ARE STRESSED, so you can TAKE ACTION TO DE-STRESS before you take any decisions, make even worse mistakes, and you get to know what causes YOUR PERSONAL stress to go into the red.

For one day, simply observe just when you are stressing so much that you are going into the red on the stress meter. When does that happen? When you look at bills, your credit cards, your credit card statements? When you go shopping or think about going shopping? When you think about your tax affairs, your overdraft? When your manager walks into your office? When your wife nags at you?

  • Make a mental note when it happens that you get fear/stress responses of backing away from something, grimacing, feeling worried, stomach sinking, flipping or churning, breath becoming shorter, getting wound up or angry, losing your train of thought repeatedly, feeling out of control.

Also look for THOUGHTS that cause what is known as “procrastination”.

  • Procrastination is an adrenaline stress spike caused not by a real lion in your room but instead, by a thought – something that isn’t actually REAL.

So, someone might KNOW that they need to phone the bank because their overdraft has been exceeded, but when they THINK ABOUT THAT, they experience an instant fear spike or adrenaline spike – and that’s like putting your hands on a hot oven, you can’t help but must flinch back and get AWAY from that which caused the fear and stress.

That’s a completely natural response and even the CORRECT response to REDUCE stress and ANXIETY and practically, to reduce the amount of adrenaline that’s coursing round your body, creating havoc and precipitating ill health.

Stress happens every day, MANY times a day. It isn't a single mountain but instead, stress is made up of lots of little incidents like sand on the beach, all stacking up on top of each other, and if they're not relieved, eventually the whole pile will topple over and there will be some form of freakout, from a panic attack to an anger outburst, from a migraine to getting ill, which is a form of blue-screening in our systems to let them re-set.

If you can become aware of what causes your stress, how you experience your stress in your body and in your mind, and when and where the stress episodes happen that stack up one after the other, you can take control of your stress.

1. You can change things so that you are not so often stressed any longer. For example, one person stopped having stress migraines when they put their unpaid bills from a giant pile by the front door into a box with a lid on it. This stopped them freaking out every single time they walked into or out of their house or through their hallway, and even though it didn't solve the problem of the unpaid bills, it DID make them healthier and more able to think of a way out of their financial crisis - it has to be easier without a migraine, right!

2. You can learn a few of the many basic stress relieving techniques right here on this site to STOP a few times each day and actively release the build up of stress for a few moments. EVERY LITTLE DE-STRESSING removes some of the burden your body and mind has to carry and makes you stronger - and SMARTER.

So one more time in brief:

  • Stress makes you stupid, and it makes you make bad decisions. It MUST be stopped, you MUST take control of your stress!

  • The first step is to observe and understand WHAT STRESSES YOU OUT. It's lots of little things piling up on top of one another, many times a day, not just one "great big problem" like "if I had enough money, everything would be just hunky dory!"

  • The solution is to STOP and DE-STRESS quickly many times a day also. Learn the techniques - there are some for every taste! - and apply them as soon as you become aware of any sign that you are stressing.

When you do this, you will start making better decisions and you will slowly start to regain control over various areas of your life again. Chaos will recede, and logic, reason and then even peace and joy come into being.

It's easy, it is simple and you owe to yourself and all the people you come into contact with to think like a real human being - and not like a stressfish!

Calm breezes to all,

Dr S Hartmann


Posted Jan 25, 2009   
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