Exploring the Link Between Emotions and Stress
When a stressful event happens we all have an emotional and physiological response, it is how we react to stress that causes problems. Negative emotions, such as anxiety and anger set off a chain of biochemical changes in our body. The body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn creates a chaotic heart rhythm, confusing our decision-making processes and even causing a degree of cognitive shutdown. All resulting in sub-standard performance.
On the other hand, if we learn how to flex our emotions and generate a positive reaction, the body releases a hormone called DHEA, leading to an energising effect on our performance, improved mental clarity and therefore better decision-making and productivity.
The world’s great Leaders, musicians, athletes and Olympians have whole teams dedicated to managing stress reactions and finding their personal formula for success, so what is your own formula for managing emotional stress, and do you even have one? If not, what is stopping you finding a formula that works?
In a business environment we rely on financial formulas for success, but in life, the key to managing emotions is not driven by such a pleasingly simple ‘black and white’ metric.
Everyone is susceptible to mental health problems, and high achievers, are no exception. Mindfulness techniques can help build emotional Resilience to stress and help us to return to a ‘stress-free high-performance zone’ more quickly. Mindfulness is a simple yet effective practice of creating emotional and physical balance, which can help you improve your performance in real time. Heart based Mindfulness techniques work on the principal of controlling the natural variability in your heart rate by focusing on your heart, your breathing and feeling positive.
When we are stressed, our heart rate is uneven. By bringing it back to a regular pattern, we feel calmer, focused and have more mental clarity.
Learning this through the Mindfulness techniques can be done in a few one-hour coaching sessions or group training. It is quick to deliver and there is also bio-feedback technology that can give you an instant overview of how you are performing if you like to measure and track progress.
The benefits of practicing Mindfulness regularly include:
- Improved cognitive performance
- Improved memory and concentration
- Better decision-making
- Increased calmness and feelings of wellbeing
- Better emotional stability
It can take as little as a few minutes per day to develop your cushion for Resilience through heart focused mindful practices. Perhaps you feel you don’t have time, but you could spend just fifteen minutes first thing practicing some Mindfulness strategies (for example balanced breathing) and then going over your plan for the day.
Spend five minutes practicing breathing to get your mind in the right place. Then before an important phone call, meeting or presentation, you can practice for as little as two minutes and even perhaps another thirty seconds during that important call. Another five minutes at the end of the day to help you wind down and assess your achievements may be all you need to get rid of that stress, become more resilient and achieve better results, and at the same time avoided those stress responses that could do you damage and impact relationships with customers, family and friends.
Developing our capacity to be adaptive, to stop and listen to our wider centres of intelligence and intuition, helps build Resilience and bolsters our trust in ourselves to handle life’s challenges and increase the resources available to us. It increases personal flexibility when we take a moment to consider what lies behind the other person’s emotions, and what is driving their behaviour.
There is the actual situation and then there is a pattern of behavioural responses. In long-term relationship’s it is easy for unhelpful patterns to build up on both sides.