Want to perform better under stress?

Do you live in a stress-free bubble?  Not many people do unless you’re a hermit on a mountain top or in the morgue.  Most of us live with variable levels of stress:  commuting to work, disturbed sleep for new parents, noise pollution, deadlines, bills to pay and challenging relationships.  That’s our reality.

Recently I was listening to a radio programme about how stress affects our cognitive function (how smartly we think).  The presenter was put through an intense stress test and the results showed that decision making was impaired; errors increased and focussed attention more difficult.  One of their conclusions was that business decisions in stressful industries (banking) would be smarter decisions if made under less stressful conditions.  The piece ended with the question “How do I minimise stress so I can perform better?”  and the answer – avoid stress.

But that’s not very helpful, is it?  We’ve already established that our lives are populated with stressful situations.  Obviously there are things we can do to mitigate the stressful conditions we find ourselves in; (leave the house earlier so we arrive on time for work despite traffic delays and road works) and techniques which support our relaxation.  One technique is mindfulness, the new buzz word which is actually centuries old in Eastern traditions.  Another is freely available laughter which increases our oxygen levels, releases endorphins for a feel good factor and hormones promoting wound healing (oxytocin).

Even better, let’s come to a more resourceful solution.  How about increasing your capacity to deal with stressful situations?  When we perceive less stress with reduced frequency we will spend less time in the ‘fight/flight’ part of our brain and more time in the problem-solving, creative thinking part of the brain.  That’s when we’re going to find decision making easier and are likely to perform better.

The best way I know to increase a person’s capacity for stress is the wellness education system called Network Care.  That is what we do at Vibrant World Chiropractic.