Self-control under stress or fear
Self-control is an important ability that allows us to make right choices, commit to long-term goals, and approach problem solving in a rational and effective way. However, our self-control can easily be affected by stress and some emotions, like fear. Especially if we are unprepared or have difficulties regulating our emotions and managing our stress.
Google, defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”
In modern life, this can be experienced when you’re stuck in a red light whilst running late or potentially if you were being mugged at knife point. Stress has a measurable effect on our health and our brain. It can lead to the production of a stress hormone called cortisol which may affect the functioning of the brain in some areas that are associated with decision making.
Even a moderate amount of stress can reduce the self-control a person has over their decisions, for example, food choices. Even a little amount of stress can make it far more difficult for an individual to choose healthier food. This occurs with something as relatively simple as food choices, but other, more important decisions are also affected.
Fear, on the other hand, is an emotion associated with danger. In terms of self-control, fear can affect it both to boost and reduce it. I’ve been in a situation where I was afraid to try a spicy curry as I know the consequences of it being too hot. Conversely, many people have lost self-control when confronted by a deadly spider when tidying their garage. Fear can be strong enough to override your self-control, even making a grown man run from their garage screaming (apparently!).
How to work on improving self-control in the face of stress and fear
To work on improving self-control in the face of stress and fear, it’s important to develop good skills to manage emotions and stress. While there are many paths to self-control, one of these is…… you guessed it. Training with West Coast Krav Maga at one of our classes in Blackpool, Preston or Lancaster. Self Defence training can give you experiences which will gradually increase the fear factor, so you can learn to recognize and better manage your body’s chemical changes when stressed. Like an athlete competing in the Olympics, it can also be a positive experience and not just negative. Even when acting in situations that challenge and can frighten you, stress is not always negative, it’s the perspective and your experiences that matters.
Chronic Stress Causes Frontostriatal Reorganization and Affects Decision-Making; (Science Vol 325, Issue 5940 31 July 2009)
Judgement and decision-making under stress: An overview for emergency managers: (Kathleen M.Kowalski Ph.D and Charles Vaught Ph.D)