Unstressable authors Mo Gawdat and Alice Law share tips on how to limit stress

Virgin Radio

9 May 2024, 10:26

Alice Law and Mo Gawdat talk to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio

Credit: Virgin Radio

Stress management consultant Alice Law and former chief business officer Mo Gawdat visited Virgin Radio to share their expertise  to help handle stress.  

With their new book, Unstressable: A Practical Guide to Stress-free Living, out today, Mo and Alice joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar to turn its pages.

Unstressable applies Mo Gawdat's engineering mind and Alice Law's stress-management expertise in order to show readers that chronic stress is not an unavoidable part of modern life, but a predictable and therefore preventable response. Speaking about being able to limit needless stress in our lives, Alice told Chris: “We let in so much unnecessary micro stress that actually increases stress in our system without us realising, just because we're in the modern world. And so when you can change your morning alarm to something soothing, when you can actually not watch 17 news headlines over and over every day, on the same thing, when you can actually just put your phone in sort of what I call a phone cemetery for an hour in a draw and not touch it, that limits so much stress.”

Former chief business officer of Google X and author, Mo added: “Today, just spend half-an-hour listing down all the things that stressed you and scratch out the ones you can scratch out, right? It's really not that complicated.”

He continued: “If you look at the original design of the stress machinery, this biology is all about running away from a tiger, right? You don't run away from a tiger for six months or three months, or the current levels of chronic stress that we have in our lives today. And so when you're reconfiguring your body to run away from a tiger, you're literally becoming superhuman. That's amazing for your focus and concentration and the energy going to your muscles and so on. But it deprives your kidneys, it deprives your liver, it deprives your digestive system from the resources they need to function properly. Do that for a while, and your body literally wears down. It's almost like a turbocharger in a car driving at 9000rpm. It gives you amazing results for two minutes but if you do that for three weeks, the engine will melt down."

Mo told Chris: “If you compare stress in humans to physics, when you stress an object, if you try to break a pencil, for example, it's not just about the force you apply to the pencil. It's also about the square area, the resources the pencil has to resist that force. And in humans, it's the same. It's the challenges that you face divided by the skills, abilities and resources that you have to deal with.

“You have to understand, when you're 20, things that freaked you out make you laugh when you're 50. That's because you've increased the square area. It's not because the challenge is easier.” 

Speaking about meditation, Unstressable podcast host Alice said: “People really think you have to be like Yoda on top of a mountain without a single thought. I had a teacher who said to me, ‘Your mind is like a Rottweiler, you have to learn to walk, or it will walk you.’ And so if you are actually watching what thoughts are coming and you learn something about yourself, so then you can change it in the future.” 

On tips that people can try straight away to help with stress, Alice explained: “If everyone took personal responsibility for feeling calmer, the effect that has in their own little world is huge. You don't also have to have an hour-and-a-half every day to do this; five minutes a day makes a huge difference, to tell your system to calm down. And if you can put five minutes every day - we all have five minutes -  that makes a big difference. And then if you can build that up to doing half-an-hour a day, then you'll see such huge changes in your life.

Mo suggested two more. “The slogans of the book are that living stressed is not living. That really, really, we have learned to accept stress as the tax we pay to navigate the modern world when you don't need to. And I think the other one… is that it's not the events of your life that stress you. It's the way you deal with them.”

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