Stressed out? Harness your anxiety with happy memories. Job strain frying your brain? Flip through your Facebook photos. Being reminded of your friend...
Job strain frying your brain? Flip through your Facebook photos. Being reminded of your friends and family can make you smarter under stress, says a new study in the journal PLOS One.
Researchers asked college students about their stress levels, then tested the undergrads on a word matching game. The students were asked to rank their values on a scale of 1 to 11. Then, half were asked to write about their most important personal values, and half wrote about how their ninth most important value might apply to a stranger. The results: Stressed-out students who wrote about important values performed better on the test than those who reported to be care-free and wrote about their ninth most important value.
Chronic stress reduces your problem-solving abilities by chipping away at your working memory, making it harder to remember those small (but crucial) bits of information, says study coauthor Janine Dutcher., of UCLA. But briefly tuning into what’s important boosts creativity by shifting the focus away from stress.
The good news: Simply keeping a photo of your girlfriend or family on your desk and glancing at it ahead of your next deadline may make you a better problem solver, says lead study author J. David Creswell, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon University.
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