May 18, 2024

Here’s Exactly How To Deal With Stress

It’s no secret that a New Year – and the first month of the year, January – can bring stress with it.  Expectations lie in every area of our lives, which can make us feel anxious and pressured. This can impact the health of our bodies and minds. Nearly a quarter of UK adults (23%) say that work, in general, causes them stress.

FBI agent LaRae Quy’s job is also stressful – but in her case, it can mean life or death.

As an undercover and counterintelligence FBI agent for 24 years, exposing foreign spies and recruiting them to work for the US government, Quy spent years developing the mental toughness to survive in high-pressure environments. Today, she is a speaker, coach and author of two books, including Mental Toughness For Women Leaders.

Experts like LaRae, and Sara Fazlali, a former UN advisor, insist that with quality training, anyone can learn how to respond like a pro under pressure. Fazlali is founder of Secret Me, a new UK-based company offering bespoke spy-training workshops to everyone from CEOs to professional sportspeople.

Nobody is born with an innate ability to think quickly, clearly and precisely when under pressure, she insists. We develop this through intense and repetitive training; we can all learn to be more comfortable with uncertainty. And, according to Quy and Fazlali, the skills they learn in Homeland-esque scenarios are just as useful in the boardroom.

Here’s what GLAMOUR learned from a crack team of experts who claim they can help me deal with stress like a secret agent…

1. Take away the emotion

«At the FBI, we’re taught that while we can’t control every situation, we can control our reaction to them,» Quy says.

«Keeping your emotions in check doesn’t come easy. When something goes unexpectedly wrong, the brain detects a threat to our status quo and triggers a spike in metabolic hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This is a healthy, albeit primitive, stress response that ensures our survival,» explains Quy.

By paying attention to ‘stress triggers’ and ‘stress responses’, we can eventually gain control of them. Obstacles and stressful situations make us emotional, and the only way we survive them is by keeping our emotions in check, says Fazlali.

If you feel like lashing out, or running away, or you freeze completely, remind yourself that this is just your body’s physical response. Let your rational brain take over – own it.

2. Master the strategic pause

When we’re stressed, our physiological response is always the same: we’re flooded with stress hormones that trigger a ‘freeze, fight or flight’ impulse. It’s the same response whether you’ve got a gun to your head or an angry boss heading your way.

«This happens to everyone,» says Fazlali. «What matters is what happens next. » And the single biggest tip? Pause, breathe, and take a moment to calm your body down. »

At [police training centre] Hendon, officers are taught how to respond to confrontation,» says Caroline Goyder, a voice coach who trains police officers in The Gravitas Method, the system she developed for speaking and acting with confidence.

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At the FBI, we’re taught that while we can’t control every situation, we can control our reaction to them

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