Know What’s a Cruel Joke?
As passionate human beings, we are born with this roaring fire inside that tells us to grow and expand as big as we possibly can.
Yet we are also stuck with these overprotective, and sometimes primitive, brains that are wired to resist change and transformation.
This creates an internal conflict because, as we challenge our boundaries and push to fulfill our potential, our brains put up an epic fight in order to keep us quietly tucked away inside of our comfort zones.
The overprotective part of the brain responsible for smothering us with safety is the amygdala, which uses sensations like fear, stress, and anxiety to dissuade us from doing anything risky or new (aka growing and evolving).
This is an outdated survival mechanism that no longer serves us for the majority of the time, especially as entrepreneurs who have to go toe-to-toe with risk and uncertainty on a daily basis.
The good news is, science has shown that there are things we can do to strategically down-regulate the amygdala, and in the process, reduce the amounts of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm that we feel as we journey to become the fullest versions of ourselves.
Use these 3 scientifically proven tips to quickly quiet the amygdala so you can spend more time flourishing and less time buried under stress as you grow into the most successful version of yourself.
Tip 1: Work It Out
At this point, we are all pretty familiar with the benefits of following a structured fitness regimen.
More lean muscle, less body-fat, higher metabolism, more energy, less risk for 100’s of diseases, better moods, etc. etc.
Recent studies have also shown that working out has a success-inducing effect on your neurochemistry.
In addition to all the physical benefits, exercising improves the circuits in your brain in a way that increases your ability to think, create, and solve problems while reducing the stress and anxiety that is caused by the amygdala.
Simply working out two to three times a week for 30-40 minutes has been shown to elicit these mental benefits, so start blocking out time throughout your week to invest in your psychological bandwidth.
Yes, time in the gym is time away from your work, but it allows you to increase the quality and quantity of your work in the long run, making it a no-brainer in terms of ROI.
Tip 2: Mindfulness for High Achievers
At its core, mindfulness encourages you to interact with your thoughts and emotions in an intentional way.
This means that instead of letting your thoughts and feelings run wild, you objectively observe them and selectively choose which ones you want to embrace and attach meaning to.
Eastern traditions have been practicing this for thousands of years because it’s powerfully effective. But as high-achieving westerners who are suckers for scientific research, we can now fully buy in to the productivity-increasing power of mindfulness.
Studies have shown that consistently practicing mindfulness increases the logical part of your brain’s ability to downregulate the irrational tendencies of the amygdala, which in turn reduces the amount of stress and anxiety that you have to deal with on a daily basis.
The end result is more calm and clarity throughout the day so you can focus on the relevant tasks at hand while feeling a lot more peaceful in the process.
There are a few free apps you can get for your smartphone that will transition you into the world of mindfulness, and just like I mentioned with fitness, the initial investment in time is well worth the return in clear-headed productivity you get as a result.
Tip 3: Get Artsy
The act of creation is a profoundly impactful experience for the human brain.
There is something triumphantly natural about expressing yourself through the act of forming something out of nothing, which is why humans have been letting their creativity out since the beginning of time.
The benefits of the human urge to create have been studied extensively, and it has been revealed that artistic expression has a direct effect on how the brain perceives stress and anxiety.
Studies show that participating in some sort of artistic creation 1-2 times a week drastically lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
So whether you like to draw, journal, paint, bake, plant, play music, design graphics, write, sing, dance, or practice jiu-jitsu…
Intentionally make time to express yourself creatively throughout your week in order to increase clarity and reduce stress.
What An ROI!
The common thread here is that all three of these things take time on the front end.
But, like any investment account earning compound interest, the more patient and consistent you can be, the more you will be paid dividends on the back end.
You may be reluctant at first to see taking time away from work as a way to get more work done, but studies have shown that taking the time to implement these three strategies will directly increase your ability to stay focused and driven for longer while reducing stress and anxiety.
The result is a happier, healthier, and more successful you who is able to move forward powerfully without being sabotaged by the overprotective and outdated amygdala.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.