The Impact of Stress and 5 Tips to Cope Better

Interview: Carol Barkes


Carol Barkes is a conflict resolution expert, mediator, national speaker, educator and bestselling author who uniquely applies neuroscience to the fields of conflict resolution and negotiations. Her expert perspective is always fresh and relevant.


Some Talking Points from Carol Barkes
on Stress and How to Cope

Constant upsetting messages can cause havoc on our brains and disrupt our wellbeing. How best to cope with it?

The Impact of Stress

  • We are experiencing stress at a really high level right now.
  • Our brains like the status quo and we certainly don’t have that at the moment, so this reflects as a danger response to our brains.
  • Consequently, we are seeing people gain weight and carb load as we unconsciously shore ourselves up for an “attack.” Even though we aren’t being actually attacked by an aggressor, our brains respond in the same way as if we were.
  • Things take longer, we make more mistakes and we are exhausted at the end of the day.

Stress on Kids

  • Kids are looking for answers from their parents. If their parents are relaxed, the kids will be, too. If parents are stressed out, their children will see that as an indication they should be, also. Parents have a HUGE impact on how their children weather this storm.
  • Parents do not need to be superheros right now. They don’t need to create virtual schools in their homes. “Okay” parenting is absolutely perfect right now. It is better to do “okay” well than it is to do “rock star” in a highly stressed manner.
  • New rituals and the continuance of existing rituals are wonderful for children’s brains. If you typically make breakfast on Saturdays, still do so. If an hour before bedtime is reading time, make that happen still. Familiarity is safe and surrounds our children like a cozy security blanket.  

How Stress Can disrupt our wellbeing?

  • When our brains cannot connect all of the dots, they go to a negative place. Daily we are faced with new unknowns and that surfaces in our brains as a threat and that threat is scary.
  • Because we are doing things in a new way, our brains are trying to create new neural pathways to facilitate doing these things faster. Our brains are only 3 pounds in weight and yet they utilize at least 20 percent of our body’s energy. When we are creating new pathways, this takes extra energy. This means it takes us longer to do things and makes us more tired in the process.
  • Our fear response can accelerate our brains sorting mechanism. We naturally create ingroups and outgroups. We look for people who are like us and sort them into our in group. These people are safe, approachable and preferred by our noggins. Others are sorted into our outgroups and become suspect to us. Currently, we are seeing this happen with Asian people who become our outgroups simply because they share a race associated with the original COVID-19 outbreak. Much of this is unconscious, and we need to remind ourselves to check our responses and emotions. Many are intrinsically driven and are incorrect.

5 Tips for Coping With Stress

  1. Allow yourself extra time to get tasks done.
  2. Recognize you will be more tired.
  3. Understand you may need to walk away from much of what you know and learn new realities. Your brain will not like this.
  4. Forgive your mistakes and those of others. While we develop new neural pathways, our brains tend to make more mistakes because it is working overtime.
  5. Get plenty of rest. Limit negative news. Drink lots of water. Walk around so you can get your brain oxygen. Be patient.

Available for Interviews:Carol Barkes

Carol Barkes, CPM, is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results. She is also a speaker, educator, and author of the bestselling book: Success Breakthroughs: Leading Entrepreneurs and Professionals Reveal Their Secrets for Breaking Through to Success.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.

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