February 13, 2014

"The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion."

"Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress."

Writes Travis Bradberry in a piece called "How Successful People Stay Calm."


John Lynch said...

Stoics and Buddhists said this a very long time ago. I think the modern terminology is cognitive behavioralism.

Self-control and self-discipline pay larger dividends than ever before in human history. People who have them can achieve almost anything, while people without the ability to control their own desires have more opportunity than ever before to indulge themselves into ruin.

mrs. e said...

Success can mean different things for different people - these suggestions (not so much the caffeine suggestion) could have come right out any 12-step daily meditation book.

Unknown said...

"Stoics and Buddhists" - I'm baffled -- is this sarcasm?

You made me look, and as far as I can tell (from quick we searches) stoics and Buddhists believe in ignoring or overcoming (not using) stress

St. George said...


Bruce Hayden said...

A lot of good ideas. Tried the breathing, and I think that it really does work. I found that when I was working for law firms, that I could destress by doing something that I love for a bit - in my case program. You pretty much figure that your job is at least somewhat high stress when they pay for your smart phone so that you can get and respond to calls, text messages, and email 24/7. Not exactly mandatory for the attorneys, but highly recommended. Some of the paralegals were tethered too, along with the office managers.

Another thing that I did at my last law firm was to walk to and from work when the weather was good (which it often was). It was great walking in, and it usually got me going home before midnight - and when I knew I would be working late, I would walk home, then drive back. It did help that I lived about a mile from work, along side streets. When you are that close to work, there is no destressing in the driving.

Michael K said...

Stress is an occupational hazard for surgeons. A friend of mine who was a very well known vascular surgeon, once let Eugene Braunwald, the cardiologist, put a blood pressure cuff on his leg while he was doing a carotid surgery. During the time the artery was occluded, a very crucial time limited period, his blood pressure went to 300/200. No one in the room noticed anything unusual.

The same phenomenon has been observed in pilots flying low level missions.

Some surgeons, usually those with less experience or less skill, often take beta blocker drugs to suppress their hand tremors.

mccullough said...

They forgot marijuana.

sunsong said...

Gratitude is so powerful. It can lift me out of worry or frustration, even anger or blame. Just to feel it, to feel grateful for life, grateful to be alive. Grateful for electricity and hot water, for roads and grocery stores - for animals and blue skies - for a new day, a brand new day.

Yes, words mean different things to different people. And that's good. If success or fun or marriage or family mean the same thing to you as they did when you were 18 - you could benefit yourself by re-examining them :-)

Shouting Thomas said...

No kidding. Stress can be good for you.

Football has only been around for about 150 years.

I guess nobody told the author.

David said...

Successful people relieve stress by taking effective action.

They seem to have left that off the list.

n.n said...

Anxiety is an emotional stressor which causes stress. Control your anxiety, mitigate your stress. The Sun will come out tomorrow and the temperature will be a balmy 70F.

Naked Surfer said...

“Thank you, Jesus,” said Ray Nagin after he was convicted for 20 counts of bribery and fraud. One calm customer. Cool.

Calm as a benchmark to define virtue across all systems – physical, chemical, biological, social – is no better than the virtues in the underlying purposes and reasons for staying calm.

One reason why systems engineers submit systems to elevated stress for quality control purposes (welders testing welds, drill sergeants testing new recruits, law professors testing students) is to find out what a system can do when it’s taken out for a test drive.

The virtues of calm are grossly overrated when you want to know what that baby can do.

Beware simple Buddhism (to give Buddhists equal press as Jesus), because there are families of esoteric Buddhists who reject detachment and emptiness-of-desire in favor of embracing full blown head-first dives into passion and screw calm – Tantra for Dummies.

Naked Surfer said...
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Naked Surfer said...


Nagin did not say, ”Thank you, Jesus,” after his conviction.

Nagin said, "Thank you, Jesus,” at the end of his testimony. Before his conviction.

Wonder what Nagin is saying to Jesus now? Can Jesus keep calm after hearing Nagin spout, “Than you, Jesus”? Just what kind of calm would Jesus do?

As to what successful (since successful is a keyword here) non-calm Tantric Buddhists say in their un-calm throes of Tantric passion, your imagination is your guide.

Was it Borges who said that all men are equal in orgasm?

Test this for yourself. And be “successful.”

paul a'barge said...

Philippians 4:6

Naked Surfer said...
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Naked Surfer said...

Philippians 4:6 – “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving (eucharista) let your requests be made known unto God.”

Exactly. Exactly what Nagin did. Nagin had his eucharistic, “Thank you, Jesus,” in his public testimony eucharist of giving thanks to Jesus. Maybe Nagin had his eucharistic Last Supper as a free man too? Calm. Cool I get it. Nagin’s public testimony really was a prayer.

And Nagin was “careful for nothing.” Now that, “careful for nothing,” that’s really calm.

Give me a dose of that kind of Jesus.

Is there something to be said for Nagin’s calm public prayer-testimony as his personal entry of a plea. Maybe Nagin should have calmly plea-bargained with Jesus before going public in a courtroom with public testimony?

Or, perhaps the jurors were praying too? Calmly?

Can eucharistic thanks of calm overflow into the public square outside the courtroom? – because of the verdict? Or is the eucharist limited only to true believers in the calm of closed communion? – are non-Christians and Tantric Buddhists in the public square who rejoice at the verdict really participating in the calm eucharist of thanks despite what closed-communion preachers say?

Stay calm.


traditionalguy said...

Stress is a word of many meanings. Perhaps because it seems invisible unless it's results are seen, like invisible winds seen in trees or smoke moved by the invisible air.

As alertness it is valuable. As fear it is a self attacking weakness. As a hormonal flood of adrenaline it is empowering for a period.

But today it is the word used for a nerve disorder that drives it's victims to exhaustion. Popular culture says that wrecked people are fight their demons...and it probably is a demon of modernity.

Trained men can turn it off in an emergency and be cool as a stone. Then the problem is turning their normal emotional feelings back on after it is all over.

Michael K said...

"Trained men can turn it off in an emergency and be cool as a stone. Then the problem is turning their normal emotional feelings back on after it is all over."

Having been there many times, I think it is not too hard to revert to the normal man after the crisis. One example is conversations in the operating room. It is common for the surgeon and assistant to stop talking at the crucial point in the surgery, then resume the conversation as though there had been no interruption, except that 20 minutes had passed.

It is as though time was suspended and nobody in the room has to remember what the conversation was about or even the preceding sentence.

Alex said...

Geez. Fighter pilots, surgeons. It seems Althouse attracts the best and the brightest. No Daily Kos here.

Naked Surfer said...
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Naked Surfer said...

”Nagin relaxed and confident under questioning by his attorney”

Did Nagin’s attorney coach him to be calm? Of course not? Did his attorney calmly drop a free copy of Forbes, “How Successful People Stay Calm,” innocently into Nagel’s chicken fricassee cajun lunchtime carry out prior to testimony?

Is it legal for Cajun Jesus to sing encrypted messages in Dixie Chicks' songs, to be played backwards to Nagin, "Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man?," to calm him down before trial?

Christy said...

They avoid asking "What if?"

Most of my career was asking "What if?" Probability analysis, nuclear accident analysis, being part of the emergency response and recovery team for 25 years.... No wonder I developed stress ulcers when injury made me give up racquetball. Nothing like whacking the hell out of a little rubber ball to alleviate stress.