Peak Performance & Stress
A Combined Neurofeedback & Biofeedback Program For Executives & Athletes:
We are all exposed to repeated stressors in our everyday work environments. In its extreme form a stress leads to a ‘crisis’ where a crisis may be defined as a personally-perceived-potential-adaptive-incompetency. The purpose of our work in stress management is very similar to the training program we use to help senior executives and top level athletes to optimize their performance. The goal is to be able to achieve a relaxed yet alert, calm, focused, problem solving mental state.
In stress management there is a further goal which is to help individuals cope with daily stress rapidly and effectively so that it never leads to a personal crisis situation. The key to efficiently and effectively handling stress lies in the ability to self regulate one’s mental and physiological state throughout each day.
Anxiety and/or emotional intensity usually corresponds to an increase in 19-23 Hz activity relative to 15-18 Hz beta. A relaxed frame of mind implies that the individual is not negatively ruminating and worrying. This type of unproductive mental activity may correspond to a decrease in both 11-13 Hz and 14-15 Hz activity and an increase in the amplitude of the EEG somewhere between 23 & 35 Hz (compared to beta activity immediately above and below that band-width).
In addition to the EEG changes there are also differences observed in physiological variables. It is very simple to show a how even a small stress can result in a decrease in peripheral skin temperature, an increase in skin conduction, muscle tension, heart rate, plus a respiratory pattern that is shallow, rapid and irregular. Heart rate variability is not in synchrony with respiration. They can then see that with appropriate diaphragmatic breathing and a relaxed mental state they can rapidly shift these variables to a healthier pattern.
The goal of the EEG and stress assessment (autonomic nervous system & electromyogram assessment) is to discover how a particular client responds to mental stress. These findings may then be used to set up a biofeedback program to help that client self regulate, that is, control their own mental and physiological responses even under stressful circumstances. In addition, practicing this control may produce an automatic, unconscious, beneficial change in that client’s response to stress in the future.
An optimal state of mental and physiological functioning will broaden associative capabilities and perspective, decrease fatigue, allow calm reflection on alternative approaches to tasks and, when combined with high levels of alertness, improve reaction time and increase response accuracy. The individual will be flexible in terms of mental state and resilient in terms of their physiology. This constitutes effective management of the stresses of everyday life.