Ride the Stress Cycle

Let’s start by asking a very basic question. What is stress? Webster’s dictionary suggests that regardless of whether you are talking about physical stress or mental stress, stress is about pressure, tension, strain or resistance. In order to keep it simple and practical, we simply say that stress exists whenever two or more forces are in opposition. This means if you bend your pencil in your hand, both your fingers and your pencil are under stress. It also means that if you want to sell something and your client is not sure they want to buy it, you are both under stress to some degree. Ditto if you are a forward or attacker that wants to score and there is a defender that would really like to stop you. If something opposes you, regardless of whether that something is an opponent, a broken tool, a time limitation or a idea in your own head, you are under stress. The good news is that stress is also the seed of all learning and growth! Take a moment to think about that. If nothing opposes you, if there is no challenge, resistance, or pressure, how much can you learn or grow from an experience? You may succeed in some sense, but will you improve? On the other hand, if you have the information and skills required to ride the Stress Cycle, stress becomes the key to systematically improving your focus and your performance. Modern neuroscience has taught us that our human brains are, among other things, very well designed for adapting to pressure, in other words: learning from stress. You simply need to know the best way to let the powerful “learning machine” between your ears do what it it does best…adapt and learn.

So what is a Stress Cycle? The role of any top performer features a sequence of phases that culminates into a “performance” which is when the stress and pressure can be at their peak. A Stress Cycle includes several phases or stages that progress along a basic path: Practice, Plan, Perform…Rest, Recover, Research. We like to call the perform phase of the cycle Showtime even if you never get up on a lighted stage, remember any lines, or practice any choreography. This is the phase, however long or short, where all of your preparation planning and practice are put to the test and you are asked to respond under challenging circumstances with focus, clarity, creativity, and confidence. We refer to the whole process as a Stress Cycle because the pressure or stress you typically experience rises and falls as you progress towards the stress crescendo of Showtime. Depending on your role, Showtime might take the form of a presentation, a meeting, an interview, a test, a competition, a concert, or any moment where your ability to maintain your mental Focus under pressure is critical. Good Focus Control skills and habits (see post) ensure that you stay mentally on target when it’s Showtime and you are under pressure to perform. Later, during the Recover and Research phases of your cycle Stress Processing can be used to reduce your susceptibility to distractions, pressure, and stress, and, at the same time, improve your Focal Control reflexes and habits. Mastering the ability to resolve and learn from stress is a great way to reduce your susceptibility to distractions, stress, and other causes of focal drift in just about any high pressure situation. Think of it as a step-by-step approach to the research phase of your Stress Cycle designed to help you resolve and learn from the stress and distractions that have been demonstrated to negatively impact your focus. Stress Processing involves the use of a simple algorithm in concert with some good old-fashioned problem solving in order to decipher and declaw stressors, worries, and other mental noises systematically. Maintaining a journal designed for the purpose like Herolab’s Cognitive Log (see post) will provide you with the means to keep track of stress and distractions and make it easy to create feedback for yourself that will fuel the learning process until you get bored of improving.

Once you learn to ride the Stress Cycle like a pro, you will start to seek out stress and pressure knowing that they are really just the precursors to learning and growth. When this starts to happen you have unlocked your inner “Learning Machine”.

Are you in the habit of looking into stress or looking away from it? Make stress your friend…Get Herolab Today!

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  1. January 22, 2018

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  2. March 2, 2018

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    • March 2, 2018

      Craig Finer

      Diguno Media designed the site.

  3. March 7, 2018

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    • March 8, 2018

      Craig Finer

      Unless I have missed something obvious, it appears that your site is about hair care and beauty products? I’d be happy to discuss if you feel there is crossover or I have gotten the wrong link?

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