Read an excerpt from the book

The great and terrible stress

How does stress affect memory and learning? I was stressed when my doctors were so frustrated that they couldn't diagnose me. As I told you, I threw myself into studying all the specialized literature - and was surprisingly good at coping with the plethora of new words and concepts. Why? Because it was vital for me to understand so many things - the symptomatology of different diseases, their causes, their consequences, and my therapy options (possibly non-medicinal as well). My stressor - a stress-inducing stimulus - was related to new knowledge, and I was quickly learning new things. Emotions and stress in situations like mine can sharpen perception, improve concentration, and facilitate information processing and translation into long-term memory in the form of knowledge. Why? Because in my case, the stressor turns on a powerful motivator: self-help. You could call it the Munchausen effect: the miracle cure is pulling yourself by the hair out of the swamp.
In other situations in life - before an exam, a speech, or an important meeting - you are completely dependent on the volume of your "working memory" and your emotions when trying to memorize key theses or answers to exam questions. Fear of failure, gloomy premonitions, trying to imagine the future - all this reduces the ability to remember by 30-40%. Worry, uncertainty, fear, self-hatred, negative attitudes - "I won't succeed", "I will fail" - that's what your attention is focused on, that's what you are focused on.
Ever since school, we have had this very bad habit ingrained in us - mechanical rote learning by mindless repetition. The information is retained for 24 hours, and you can actively use it (if you repeat it often), but then it often disappears without a trace into the black hole of oblivion. It is impossible to get it out later, to use it as knowledge. Besides, nobody is insured against a banal "stupor" - nervousness can rush in at the most responsible moment, and all the rote information goes up in smoke. We will return to this topic, but for now let's remember: before you start studying new complex material, preparing a speech or important negotiations, you need to deal with your emotional state, and begin to manage your own emotions.