I work within various areas of work and personal performance. These areas can include confidence-building, anxiety-management, authentic expression, clear thinking, paralysis to decision-making, changing negative patterns, and relationship-building, both business and personal. Much of this is now approached under the overall umbrella of stress management. Over time, having worked with varying manifestations of stress, and reading appropriate research studies as well as conducting some myself, it became obvious that many of the issues I was working with were symptoms of acute or chronic stress - a change from homeostasis.
Research shows that balance in life enables us to maintain homeostasis in our physiology. Stress in any area alters the balance, instigating the physiological stress response. Because of the way we are built, this diverts all energy towards body functions that are needed for immediate survival, taking away energy from other non-essential functions. It is an evolutionary hang-up of physical survival, which has been the exclusive dominant need for millions of years. We inherited this automatic response from the time of, or before, our single-cell ancestral starting point.
Yet much of the stresses today are psychological and need more subtle responses. It took millions of years to perfect the physical survival response. It may take an equal amount for humans to evolve more suitable responses. In the meantime, we need to do something else. Recognising the causes of our reactions, accepting our templates, and learning to manage performance are good options in that regard, while raising our awareness and self-management skills. By leveraging what we know, we implement what serves us best. One of the main take-aways from all our daily lives and within the work I have done is that offloading issues is itself a stress-relieving activity. After all, it helps one to stop, reflect, talk through the situation, breath, live in the moment and get support. All of these help to manage stress and give a chance for resolution as well as clearing mental space.
The stress response can actually be useful in the short-term, where a level of control exists within the situation. It can provide intense periods of concentration, bursts of energy, and the possibility of working long hours, even through the night. But this needs awareness and management. In addition, research studies have found working memory performance is vulnerable under stress. This is where much of regular working cognition takes place. Hence, working under stress can be counter-productive, possibly leading to suboptimal decisions, incomplete understanding of pertinent information, lack of strategic extrapolation. So although there are some benefits, a stress response needs to be handled appropriately and turned off after an episode, otherwise ongoing loops can instigate chronic stress.
This is especially the case for stress-inducing scenarios where control is lacking. Chronic stress, especially in such situations, creates an energy crisis in other bodily functions including the mind and immune system. Bad health, chronic tiredness, muscle-ache, shortness of breath, foggy thinking, angry outbursts, and negative/over-cautious/pessimistic/confrontational thinking patterns can become the norm, even though they were originally instigated by a stressful episode that could have been managed to avoid a never-ending loop.
The parasympathetic system is the one that is dominant during homeostasis. It is called the 'rest and relax' system, which is self-explanatory, and helps reverse the stress response. Much of the work I do is around that, as well as unpacking issues and reconditioning beliefs and patterns. And it is an honour most times to see the results. I would encourage anyone to try it alone or with a professional.