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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How to Keep Your Cool in High-Stress Situations

hbr.org

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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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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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Fight or flight response

The fight or flight response (also known as the acute stress response), refers to a physiological reaction that occurs when we are in the presence of something that is mentally or physically terrifying.

  • The fight-or-flight response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety.

The term "fight-or-flight" represents our ancient ancestors' choices when faced with danger in their environment.

  • The physiological and psychological response to stress prepares the body to react to the danger.

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The Fight-or-Flight Response Prepares Your Body to Take Action

verywellmind.com

Fight Or Flight Response
  • Also known as Acute Stress Response, the fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction when we are mentally or physically terrified.
  • A stressful or terrifying situation triggers hormones that prepare our body to stay or either deal with the problem or run away towards safety.
  • American physiologist Walter Cannon first described this basic stress response towards danger.

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The Fight-or-Flight Response Prepares Your Body to Take Action

verywellmind.com

Deep Breathing Practice

Deep breathing encourages full oxygen exchange, slows the heartbeat and lowers/stabilizes blood pressure. This is specifically so when we engage our abdomen in our breathing practice.

Steps for Deep Breathing Practice:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  2. Take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully.
  4. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).

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Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response - Harvard Health

health.harvard.edu