Unstressable authors Mo Gawdat and Alice Law explain how being kind helps reduce stress

Virgin Radio

23 May 2024, 08:22

Credit: Virgin Radio

Stress management consultant, Alice Law and former chief business officer, Mo Gawdat have shared their tips on how to lower your stress levels, and how kindness plays a “super huge” role in doing so.  

With their new book, Unstressable: A Practical Guide to Stress-free Living, out now, Mo and Alice joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar to talk all about it.

The book leans on Mo's engineering mind and Alice's stress-management expertise in order to show that chronic stress is not unavoidable. Talking about the importance of kindness, Alice said: “Kindness in stress reduction is just super huge, and we really undervalue that, because everyone knows the feeling, not only actually in the outside world, but if you're kind internally to yourself, that inner voice, you come back at the end of the day, feeling pretty happy, the same way if you're berating yourself and being negative, you'll come back feeling stressed and depleted. And kindness, as an act of kindness, a random act of kindness, has been shown to reduce stress, reduce anxiety, increase immunity. Kindness is so needed today. It’s so undervalued, I think.”



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Mo added: “Homework for everyone; one act of kindness today. Because it's not just for the other person it's for you as well. You get that oxytocin rush.”

Speaking about anxiety as opposed to stress, former chief business officer of Google X and author, Mo said: “Stress is supposed to be reacting to a tiger right in front of you. But you can look a week ahead or a month ahead or a year ahead and say ‘I am afraid of something’. The challenge is when you're anxious, and you react to it as you react to fear, you're doing the wrong thing. Because fear is about a challenge that you need to address and minimise or escape, right? 

“Anxiety is about, ‘I am aware of that challenge, and I'm not able to deal with it. My perceived notion of my own abilities is that I can't deal with it. And so if you try to address it as if it's fear, it makes you more anxious, because the more you try to address it, the more you realise you're not able to deal with it. 

He added: “And so the answer is actually quite different. The answer is when you feel anxious, focus on yourself. Tell yourself, ‘How can I develop more skills to become able to deal with this?’ Similarly, with panic, panic is about time. The threat is imminent. And so don't treat it like fear. Don't try to address the issue. Try to give yourself more time.”

Alice told Chis: “We're in this society where we're obsessed with being busy and we're obsessed with pressure. And we think that pressure makes us perform better, and it does on a small version… short stress over a short amount of time. But when we have pressure long term, it actually makes us less able to deal with everything and less able to perform.” 

Speaking about emotional stress, Unstressable podcast host Alice said: “We've been taught how to think rather than how to feel. And we're so obsessed with being in our heads instead of in our hearts. And so Emotional Stress, that chapter in the book, is such an important one for people to look at. Because it's really about actually understanding that when you can access your feelings you have a superpower. And the more we suppress our feelings, they don't disappear. We think ‘Oh we’ll suppress them, push them down, distract, numb them out, binge watch Netflix, overeat, go out, work,’ but a feeling just sits simmering underneath until you explode later on.”

She added: “Emotions are complicated but amazing languages. The most recent research that we put in the book is 87 different emotions and human experiences humans are capable of, but the average person can only name three. Yeah. Which is happy, angry and sad, which is just wild if you think about it, because how can we portray what we're feeling if we can't even explain it ourselves?”

Read more tips from Mo and Alice about how to limit stress here.

Unstressable: A Practical Guide to Stress-Free Living is out now.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.