Want to become a corporate athlete? Knowing your craft is one thing but optimizing your ability to excel by adjusting between states of more active engagement, focused concentration and attentiveness to more restorative states of information integration and mindfulness allows for improved functioning. Because these state shifts relate to specific brain frequencies and physiological responses, enhanced bio- and neuro-regulation is a goal of performance training.
What does it mean to perform optimally in our daily work lives? We would all likely agree that it involves reaching a state of homeostasis where both mind and body are balanced and thus, reducing wasted energy & effort in the areas of emotional capital and physiological functioning. We have all experienced times of stress where our thinking is somewhat inefficient as it pertains to the task at hand or going into a business meeting following a high degree of preparation only to find ourselves stumbling through our talking points or finding ourselves unable to comprehend what is being said. This is where training optimal functioning comes into play.
High levels of work stress can be understood in terms of not just our thoughts about situations, but how our physiology is functioning. There exists a high correlation between high work stress and autonomic imbalance resulting in lowered vagal cardiac control and increased sympathetic activity, which may ultimately lead to increased cardiovascular risk. Autonomic balance is achieved when our parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system are working together to achieve optimal physiological functioning. This involves optimizing heart-rate variability (HRV) and is achieved with biofeedback that allows for us to practice breathing at our individualized optimal rate during 5-10 min periods of the day that aligns our respiration with our ever adjusting heart rates. High HRV is associated with overall adaptability and improved autonomic nervous system balance. Autonomic balance allows us as individuals to adapt to ever changing situations where stress is involved, and to ensure proper blood flow is reaching our organs and especially our brains when demands are high. Lucini et al. (2007) reported that work stress was consistently associated with an altered autonomic proﬁle, characterized by high resting heart rate (HR), elevated blood pressure (BP) and reduced cardiac vagal tone.
Link to research demonstrating efficacy for Optimal Performance utilizing Heart-Rate Variability Biofeedback.
Lucini, D., Riva, S., Pizzinelli, P., & Pagani, M. (2007). Stress management at the worksite reversal of symptoms proﬁle and cardiovascular dysregulation. Hypertension, 49(2), 291–297.