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Brainhack by Neil Pavitt

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15 Don't Get Stressed

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”

David Mamet, Boston Marriage

When you hear the phrase “performance-enhancing drugs”, you probably start thinking about the darker side of top level sport. But the fact is we're all affected by them.

Cortisol (as I've previously mentioned) is most commonly linked to stress, but it is in actual fact a performance-enhancing steroid hormone. (Yes, you're on steroids as well.) Its main purpose is to increase blood pressure and blood sugar, to give us focus and energy. The trouble begins though, when we start worrying.

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According to most studies, public speaking is people's number one fear. Number two is death! As Jerry Seinfeld said, “This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Whether it's having to give a speech, organizing a big event or meeting a certain deadline, you need a boost.

You want focused performance energy, but you don't want the worry – the performance anxiety. The trouble is, your adrenal gland can't tell the difference between you needing the energy at work, to you worrying about it at night. The cortisol tap gets turned on and left on and that's when you get all those negative effects that are associated with stress.

One of the problems is that we call it stress. The word “stress” has so many negative ...

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