5 Steps to learn how to manage your stress

Take a look at this very intesting article “MANAGING YOURSELF – Pull the Plug on Stress” from harvard business review.

Having worked with more than 50,000 workers and managers in more than 100 organizations, including Boeing, BP, Cisco, Unilever, Bank of Montreal, and Shell, this study show that learning to manage
stress is easier than most people think. And stress reversal can do a lot of good for your organization.

The brain’s mood-management center contains two limbic systems: first, the open-loop system that depends on connections to other people, and second, the closed-loop, self-regulating system that transmits neurological, hormonal, blood pressure, and electromagnetic messages among organs within the body.

Constant can hijack your closed-loop limbic system. This keep the emotional center of the brain, the amygdala—the locus of emotional memory—stuck in a perpetual state of fight or flight so that he never had a chance to fully
recover. The amygdala’s primary job is to eavesdrop on incoming sensory information, looking for a match between the memory of a previous experience and an event in the here and now.

So, you will learn in this article how to take distance from stressful situations.
When a scene becomes stressful, the technique allows you to freeze that perceptual frame and isolate it in time so you can observe it from a more detached and objective viewpoint—similar to pausing the VCR for a moment. Here are the five steps of the freeze-frame technique.

Once you master these 5 steps, you are able to block the immediate stress response and, as a result, to get your mind, heart, and body systems to work in sync again.

You will read in this article that, by applying this 5 steps process, the number of people reporting high stress at these companies dropped 69%; the number of people reporting any stress symptoms fell by 56%.
1. Recognize and disengage.
Take a time-out so that you can temporarily disengage from your thoughts and feelings—especially stressful ones.

The research on stress response has shown that this simple process of recognizing and disengaging interrupts the amygdala’s ability to match patterns and helps us gain objectivity.

2. Breathe through your heart.
Shift your focus to the area around your heart. Now feel your breath coming in through that area and out your solar plexus.

After freezing the stressful moment, you should consciously focus your attention on your heart. At the same time, you inhal deeply for about five seconds, imagining the breath flowing in through his heart; you then exhal for about
five seconds, visualizing the breath flowing out through his solar plexus. In the process, you begin letting go of the negative emotion.

In research, we’ve observed that the mere act of focusing one’s attention on one’s heart actually produces a specific, physiologically calming effect. That’s because the heart—the most powerful organ in the body, whose rhythms
affect the functioning of all others—sends far more information to the brain than vice versa. Breathing techniques work because they modulate the heart rhythm pattern. The more stable the frequency and shape of the waveform, the more coherent the system becomes. In physiological terms, coherence describes the degree to which respiration and heart rate oscillate at the same frequency. When physiological coherence occurs, the brain associates it with
feelings of security and well-being.

Take a look at following video for breathening technique.

3. Invoke a positive feeling.
Make a sincere effort to activate a positive feeling.

To help you on this, you should focus on one of two images that made you feel good. For me it could be making a KATA (Karate), Skiing with friends in the Alps or simply walking with my familly (Jo, Sacha and Noa) in the wood on Sunday afternoon.Once you have this positive image, you should try to relive these experiences by recalling as much as details as possible (each movement of my KATA, the coolness of the wood, the breeze and the alps and the great discussions with my friends…) . The longer you recall the feelings these experiences evoke, the better you feel. Positive feelings have a powerful physiological effect, pushing us to perform better.

Because your amygdala will become conditioned to the new emotional response, you will feel better physically—over time and with practice. After six weeks, your blood pressure return to normal (if you feeled stressed). Your sleep will also gradually become deeper and more refreshing, your energy levels rebounded, You will also discover that by learning to modulate your heart rhythms, you increase your ability to think clearly. The cortical regions of the brain will be more responsible for decision making, strategic thinking, creativity, and innovation because this region will not more been blocked by the negative stress response.
4. Ask yourself, “Is there a better alternative?”
Ask yourself what would be an efficient, effective attitude or action that would destress your system.

Each time you will complete the first three steps, you will feel  more neutral, less worried, and even more creative. The reason: you closed-looplimbic system will be becoming coherent. So, you will be able to remain emotionally
and physically balanced, even in the face of significant stressors. That’s because your body will no longer focus on its own survival. From this stage, you will be able to take a more objective approach.

Personnaly, I practice boxing and I can guaratee you that being is a ring is a stressful experience. One of the key success factor is to keep a regular breath and to keep focus on the situation (keep eye-contact). This will help you to objectivate the situation and be relax. Easy to say but a real experience for your learning ! With a team, once you are more relax, In sympathizing with the rest of the team, you will engage your open-loop limbic system— the “interpersonal limbic regulation” that allows leaders to intuit and affect the moods of those around them.


5. Note the change in perspective.
Quietly sense any change in perception or feeling and sustain it as long as you can.

This final step in the process allowed you to see the larger results of what you hadlearned. In counteracting your stress, you will have brought your closed-loop system into coherence; by putting what he had learned into
practice with your team. Over the next six months, you will learn the techniques into your strategic-planning process.

With practice, the first three steps become automatic. As they do, and you expand to steps four and five, you may see surprising increases in your ability to not only deal with stress but also to achieve better personal and team performance.

To read the full article, just click on the link here-below.