How to Keep Your Cool in High-Stress Situations - Deepstash

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Stressful Situations And Our Response

Stressful Situations And Our Response

Our natural tendency when confronted is to be defensive, and it is often hard to keep cool during a stressful situation.

The Polyvagal Theory, based on new research in neuroscience offers some insights on this automatic ‘fight-or-flight’ self-regulation done by us during moments of anxiety, pressure and stress. Specific tactics in the theory help us provide a better response which involves creativity, collaboration and thriving.

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The Three Levels Of The Polyvagal Theory

Our nervous system, specifically the vagus nerve, regulates threat and stressful situations, with a three-part response:

  1. Level 1 - Immobilization: Reptiles, mammals and humans can suddenly become immobile when faced with a dire threat.
  2. Level 2 - Mobilization: Faster heartbeat and an adrenaline rush is a classic fight-or-flight response and the most common.
  3. Level 3 - Engagement And Connection: When there is safety, our body releases oxytocin, helping one become more open and experience connectedness, leading to learning and collaboration.

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A Five-Step Framework To Keep Cool In Stressful Situations

  1. Understand and identify the reactions the body is giving.
  2. Recognize the level 1(immobilization) or level 2(fight-or-flight) responses.
  3. Recall previous experiences and find those where the mind was able to navigate a challenging situation.
  4. Focus on the intention and let the oxytocin be released in your body, helping you shift to Level 3.
  5. Trust the process and explore/develop ideas with the other person, making it a learning process, which is mutually beneficial.

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