How To Deal With Stress, Based On Science & The Food Network Series 'Chopped'

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How To Deal With Stress & Anxiety, Based On Episodes Of 'Chopped'

Are you fan of the Food Network series Chopped? I am. I can’t get enough of the fast-paced, high-stress cooking show, both for the pure enjoyment factor and the insightful lessons it offers on how to deal with stress and anxiety.

If you aren't familiar with the TV show, Chopped is a competition in which four chefs rapidly prepare creative and tasty dishes from mystery boxes filled with unusual and exotic ingredients. There are three timed rounds per episode, and at the end of each, the chef with the least successful dish is "chopped", until only one winner remains. Winners receive $10,000 and the right to call themselves "Chopped Champions."

(My son is convinced that they actually chop up the losers, à la Sweeney Todd, because we never see them again. But I’ll leave that for you to decide.)

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Watching these chefs masterfully handle surprise ingredients ranging from sea urchins to gummy bears in an intensely short amount of time is nothing short of amazing.

If you've ever wondered how some people develop the skills necessary for meeting these intense types of challenges, the answer is simple: by putting out logistical and emotional fires in their own kitchens every single day.

In commercial kitchens, a lot goes awry on a regular basis — from vendors delivering the wrong items to assistants mishandling ingredients to customers complaining, and more. Dealing with such panic-inducing issues over and over again, chefs develop the ability to manage crises and deal with high levels of stress well.

We, too, face many unexpected events in our own workplaces and daily lives, and there is much we can learn about how to deal with our stress and anxiety by paying attention to these chef's techniques.

In the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks repeatedly encountered things that were too little, too much, and just right for her personal taste and comfort. That same can be said of stress.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that experiencing too few anxious moments in life leads to boredom and depression, too many have a negative impact on health, while a moderate amount of stress is just right, because it tunes up the brain and improves performance and health.

As stated by Daniela Kaufer, an associate professor of integrative biology and one of the study's authors, “You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not ... Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance ... Stress can be something that makes you better, but it is a question of how much, how long and how you interpret or perceive it.”

To help you reach a new understanding of how to handle stress and anxiety in your life, here are 4 lessons based on episodes of the Food Network series Chopped.

1. Be mindful

Pay attention to things you do as you do them.

For example, don’t just toss your car keys into your purse as you run off. Instead, watch where you place them so you can retrieve them easily later.

Searching for misplaced items while in a hurry can be very stressful.

2. Share

Even when chefs take ingredients to their station, they are usually willing to share with their competitors.

In that same vein, when you set aside time to share stories with your significant other about the day's events, you keep each other updated about specific issues that could potentially create chaos in the future.

For example, if you put off chatting with your partner about an upcoming bill, you may soon find yourself having to surprise them with an awkward discussion about aggressive creditors!

RELATED: 7 Ways Mentally Strong People Deal With Stress

3. Adopt a positive attitude about stress as it appears

Most situations in life, no matter how stressful, do have a silver lining. Discovering you accidentally left the front door unlocked, for example, is understandably, but the memory of that feeling will likely serve as a vivid reminder to lock it and stay safer in the future.

Similarly, realizing later you said the wrong thing during a meeting can help you improve the way you communicate with your co-workers.

4. Take a break

Just like the chefs go to a rest area between rounds, taking a time out can help you deal with stress.

If you encounter an overwhelming crisis, breathe slowly and deeply. That will help your body calm down and reduce your level of panic in order to prevent you from over-reacting.

It also helps to eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of rest so you are prepared to handle those situations that require more of your energy and patience.

Then, you can do what you need to make things right and, like the chefs on Chopped, turn those unexpected lemons into lemonade!

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Janis Roszler is a therapist specializing in diabetes-related sexual and relationship issues, whose writing is intended to help transform romantic relationships. Read Janis’ book, "Sex and Diabetes For Him and For Her", or check out her website for more advice.