Use stress to your advantage

Stress is often perceived as a negative factor that impairs learning and performance. However, according to neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, stress can also be a powerful ally that enhances learning and growth, if used properly.

Huberman explains that stress is not a static state, but a dynamic process that involves two phases: arousal and resolution. Arousal is the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which prepares us for action and increases our alertness and focus. Resolution is the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which restores our balance and calmness and facilitates memory consolidation.

Normally, Strong sympathetic activation, as occurs in anger or fear, leads to physiological arousal – increased vigilance, heart rate, and blood flow to the skeletal muscles, and decreased blood flow to the gastrointestinal system and skin (which is why arousal leads to cold hands and feet).

Huberman argues that we can use stress to our advantage by deliberately creating cycles of arousal and resolution during learning. He suggests that we can increase our arousal by exposing ourselves to challenging or novel situations that require effort and adaptation.

That doesn’t mean putting yourself in an uncontrolled situation. Rather, he recommends using tools such as breathing techniques, visual cues, and mental imagery to modulate our arousal level so to prevent it from becoming overwhelming or distracting.
On the other hand, he advises that we can induce resolution by engaging in activities that promote relaxation and reward, such as meditation, massage, or social interaction. He also emphasizes the importance of sleep for optimal learning and recovery.

By using stress in a controlled and intentional way, we can create a “growth mindset” that fosters learning and performance. That can be as simple as trying to balance a pen vertically.
That is a harmless exercise that is easy to try out.

For more information, check these sources:
How to Enhance Performance & Learning by Applying a Growth Mindset.
How stress affects the mind — and how to relieve it ….
How stress affects your brain and how to reverse it.