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Under stress at work? Just remember: Don't believe what you think.

https://ideas.ted.com/under-stress-at-work-just-remember-dont-believe-what-you-think/

ideas.ted.com

Under stress at work? Just remember: Don't believe what you think.
This post is part of TED's "How to Be a Better Human" series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here. Question: When you're under stress at work, are you able to do your best thinking?

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Take control

Most of us are unable to do our best thinking when we're under stress at work. The problem is, it is often the time when we need to be at our best.

Even though we can't make stress go away, understanding how our brain is wired can help us to make better decisions.

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How our brains process information

Our brains process information in two ways:

  • Fast: Our fast brain is highly efficient, and makes decisions automatically by focusing on a few details it finds important, based on past experience.
  • Slow: Our slow brain uses control processing to make decisions, and takes into account more information.

Our brains spend most of their time in fast mode. However, we should avoid relying on our fast brain when we are in a new situation or when we are under stress.

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How to counteract your fast brain

  • Pay attention: Your brain will default to making fast decisions, not accurate ones. 
  • Take some deep breaths. It will help you calm your nervous system.
  • Be curious. Ask yourself what story you are telling yourself. Then ask if it is true.

With practice, you can learn to control your brain's knee-jerk reactions in distressing situations.

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