Real-time Stress Management. Pat Daily, MS, CSSBB Convergent Performance

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1 Real-time Stress Management Pat Daily, MS, CSSBB Convergent Performance

2 Stress Physiology of stress Physical and mental effects of stress Levels of stress Good stress (Eustress) Bad stress (Distress) Impacts of stress on performance

3 What is Stress? Stress is the physical and emotional sensation felt in our body when our brain responds to perceived or real threat. It is a normal physical response and is programmed into our brains from cave man days. It is an automatic process known as the fight or flight reaction. The stress response is generally protective and when working properly the stress response maintains mental alertness and focus and physical strength.

4 The Autonomic Nervous System Connects the brain to the organs ANS has two division Sympathetic (stress and excitation Para sympathetic (relaxation and digestion)

5 Sympathetic Nervous System Responsible for the responses associated with the fight or flight response Stimulated to the body is through the release of catecholamines called epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and norepinephrine

6 NEUROTRANSMITTER An endogenous chemical that influences signal transmission within a neuron or across the synaptic cleft to the dendrite (receiving end) of another neuron.

7 A quick demonstration of the HPA axis at work

8 Catecholamines Enhance Synaptic Conduction Catecholamines enhance conduction and block re uptake

9 General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) Human body s reaction to stress Alarm stage: immediate emergency response (fight, flight, freeze reaction) Resistance stage: prepared for longer attack (immune system increases to max capacity) Exhaustion stage: body systems fail (physiological and immune systems cannot maintain elevated response any longer and resistance drops below normal levels)

10 Classifications of Stress Positive stress (Eustress) low levels of stress that can improve immediate performance and cognitive function Negative stress (Distress) higher levels of stress degrades dexterity and mental function Acute stress immediate life threatening Chronic stress long term stresses that have negative impact on health

11 Sources of Stress Personality/Attitude Family/Partner Job/Organization Situation

12 Stress Performance Curve Performance Stress

13 Immediate Stress Reaction Adrenal cortex stimulation response (cortisol) Epinephrine and norepinephrine released from nerve endings Adrenal medulla stimulation (epinephrine and norepinephrine released into blood stream due to ACTH release) Time frame starts in 20 to 30 seconds and lasts minutes to an hour

14 Acute Stress: Short Term Physical Symptoms Dry mouth Cool skin Cold hands and feet Increased sweating Rapid breathing Faster heart rate Tense muscles Feelings of nausea Butterflies in your stomach Diarrhea A desire to urinate

15 The Brain is Maladapted to Solving 21 st Time Critical Problems The brain is designed to deal with prehistoric stress and time compressed situations and, when unchecked, reverts to those pathways to make 21st century decisions

16 Acute stress directly impact your ability to think and act logically

17 Stress has negative cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral impacts Cognitive symptoms Impaired access to stored knowledge and mental models Inability to concentrate Loss of judgment and impaired weighing options Anxious or racing thoughts internal distractions Inability to make decisions Decreased ability to learn and store memories

18 You ve all experience acute stress before, but what does it look like?

19 Calming the Noise in Your Head Tools for Acute Stress Management Beta (ß) activity is 'fast' activity frequency of >14 Hz. reflects desynchronized active brain tissue dominant rhythm in those who are alert or anxious ß 16 α 9 Alpha (α) waves (Hz) alpha production promotes mental resourcefulness, aids in the ability to mentally coordinate, enhances overall sense of relaxation. In this state you can move quickly and efficiently to accomplish whatever task is at hand. When Alpha predominates most people feel at ease and calm.

20 Tools for Acute Stress Management Relax your grip and let your shoulders relax Take a deep breath and exhale Momentarily roll your eyes up and without moving your head look way up, relax your eyelids Deeply inhale again with your eyes rolled back Shrug your shoulders and refocus your eyes

21 Tools for Acute Stress Management Let s Try it Out Turn and look at your neighbor Relax your shoulders Exhale then take in a deep breath Roll your eyes up into your head as far as possible but don t pick your chin up How much of your neighbor s eyes can you see the more white the better Now do it for yourself

22 Good Decisions under Acute Stress Resist letting your brain be hijacked by stress hormones and catecholamine release Practice relaxation tools during simulation and hangar flying Make use of all stress management tools Communicate and exchange ideas even just say your thoughts out loud Constantly re evaluate and assess the situation

23 The 3 R s of Decisions Under Stress R Resist temptation do nothing for the first moment Resist the temptation to execute the first midbrain caveman response that comes to mind.. R Relax Relax you muscles and your brain. Use physiology to your favor and wash the catecholamine cocktail from your system: - roll back eyes or blink repeatedly to generate calming alpha-waves across cortex - ease grip on control surfaces to get focus off tunnel vision of first impulse - take a deep breath to increase venous return to right heart and metabolize catecholamines in liver and lungs R Reassess Refresh decision making process and reassess situation to let your brain consider all other options

24 Live for it Act as if you re in control Convert the stressor into a challenge Grind the crack

25 Moderation of Physical Reactions to Stress Tools to control acute stress have a physiological impact on heart and lungs Slow, deep breathing will bring your heart rate and respiration back to normal Relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension

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