Do you freeze up in high-pressure situations? In her new book, “Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To,” Sian Beilock, a researcher in psychology, scientifically shows why we blunder all too often when the stakes are high.
When faced with nerve-racking circumstances such as speaking in public, playing in a cutthroat game or taking a big test, we tend to deal with “a wide variety of body reactions: our pulse goes up, our palms start to sweat — and oftentimes we worry about the situation, about the consequences, about what the people might think,” Beilock says. Our brains then focus on these negative thoughts, leaving little power to perform well.
Basically, we overthink situations. “Our minds and body know what to do pretty much on autopilot,” she says. But many times when faced with a daunting task, “people start dwelling on every word and move.”
In “Choke,” Beilock shows how your brain and body function and then explains how to manipulate those functions to achieve your best in a competitive world.
Some of her best and simplest advice? Before doing something stressful, distract yourself by “singing a song or counting backwards by twos in your head.”
Also, it will help to put down the smartphone and log off of Facebook. “It’s like a computer running too many things at once,” she says. “They all can prevent us from pulling out our best performance.”