When it comes to learning how to deal with stress or a stressful situation, what's the first thing you do? Many of us reach for those things that give us comfort. Whether that's sweet food, alcohol or binge-watching old episodes of Dawson's Creek, we all have our own ways of coping. But what if these coping mechanisms are preventing us from leading healthy lives? Whether that's bad food choices or overdoing it on the booze, although they might help us cope short-term, overindulging can have a serious long-term impact on our health.
Rarely do quick-fix solutions exist, but when I sat down to watch The Truth About… Stress on BBC One last week, I was fascinated about one fast-acting trick that an expert put forward for dealing with anxiety and stressful situations. All you need to do to rewire your brain, the programme claims, is repeat three simple words to yourself.
Keep scrolling to find out more about this interesting hack.
Presented by Fiona Phillips, the show looked at a variety of stressful situations, but it was when Phillips was attempting to do a zip wire that she was given a new way to approach a situation that would make anyone feel anxious.
Speaking to neuroscientist Ian Robertson, she was told to say these three words: "I feel excited." The idea is to change the way we see anxiety and transform it into being about excitement. Essentially, Robertson explained, anxiety and excitement are the mirror image of each other, but the difference is all in the mind.
By standing up straight, pushing your shoulders back (this helps with breathing better, therefore slowing down your heart rate) and saying those three words, you're attempting to rewire your brain to believe that you're not anxious but excited. "You're tricking your brain into different emotions," says Robertson. After saying these three words, Phillips managed to get on the zip wire.
The show also went further and did a similar anxiety/excitement test on a group of people. Half were given a piece of paper that said "calm" on it and the rest with "excited." They then had to do karaoke in front of everyone (considered a stressful situation), and those who had the "excited" piece of paper performed better.
You can watch the zip-wire experiment below.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that this doesn't help for everyone and not every type of anxiety. In that case, we suggest heading over to our piece by Dr. Jane Leonard on how to deal with anxiety.