Neuro-Effective™ Insights: Part 5 Stress, Resilience & Contemplation

In the workplace, it can feel that we are required to be more and more productive, but often without additional resources. Decisions, often with huge financial implications, or that have the potential to affect the lives of others, have to be made quickly and in pressurised environments. Events beyond our control affect our daily lives and we have to deal with these as best we can. This can be very stressful.

What exactly is stress? And what function does it serve for us? Why would we have evolved to be stressed? And, how come some people seem to be much better at dealing with the stresses of life than others? What can we learn from these people about how to be more resilient?

Applied Neuroscience can give us valuable information about the stress mechanism in the brain and what benefits it has for our performance under pressure. Neuroscience also gives us tools to control it so we can work more effectively and live more stress free.

Neuro-Effective™ Insights

Neuro-Effective™ Insight #13: Differentiating states
When individuals say that they feel ‘stressed’, it can be a catch-all term that could include a number of different negative states including feeling depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. But each of these are very different states in the brain and addressing each of them requires different solutions. By becoming better at identifying these states, it is possible to provide more effective help for anyone who is feeling ‘stressed’.

Neuro-Effective™ Insight #14: Good stress
“Let’s celebrate stress!”

Stress often makes us feel less effective, and unable to function properly. What is being described here is how we feel when we are excessively stressed. In fact, mild stress can improve brain performance. Learning when stress is improving your brain function and how to identify when it is impairing function can help you to use your stress response as nature intended. That’s right, stress is natural and It is part of the human experience for a reason. Stress is thought of as a bad thing. But if it was purely bad, we wouldn’t have that mechanism in the brain. It is an important distinction to understand; when stress is beneficial to us and when it is not. It also means you can help people be at their best when they’re being challenged.

Applied Neuroscience can help you understand what stress is, what it’s for and how you can relate to it better – which in turn opens up more choice and possibilities.

Neuro-Effective™ Insight #15: Mindfulness and meditation
Recent advances in neuroscience have demonstrated that contemplation of different forms (e.g. mindfulness, meditation, yoga) can have an effect on the way that we think and the structure of the brain.

These forms of ‘contemplative neuroscience’ are very much in the public eye currently as ways to improve stress levels in individuals. But are they effective? Learning what changes in the brain during mindfulness and meditation informs you how best to harness the benefits of these techniques for you and your team.

There are so many lovely – and practical – tools coming from different fields of mindfulness and meditation. Applied Neuroscience can enhance and offer alternatives.

There is a whole world to explore here which offers us a whole new way of thinking – and a unique power to transform.

With that comes more choice and more ability to make a difference in a way that matters to you. To read more, take a look at the other 4 parts of this Neuro-Effective Insights series:

Being Neuro-Effective™: the 5 key areas where neuroscience can give you the edge

Neuro-Effective™ Insights Part 1: Emotional Regulation & Motivation

Neuro-Effective™ Insights Part 2: Creativity & Insight

Neuro-Effective™ Insights Part 3: Learning & Memory

Neuro-Effective™ Insights Part 4: Decision Making & Planning

To immerse yourself in this way of thinking and learning, please join us on the Applied Neuroscience Programme that we co-created.

This article is co-authored by Ian McDermott and Professor Patricia Riddell