New Weapons in the War against Executive Stress
Contributed by Steve Hale and Sam Young
Business executives in high stress situations need to develop or find a fast, effective, convenient method to minimize levels of stress experienced during the business day. Controlling stress becomes is key strategy in taking a proactive approach to wellness. Physicians often note that complications to the human condition worsen as chronic stress has become part of the executives’ business day.
When Work Interrupts the Workout
The lowering of the immune responses, chronic muscle tension, and increased blood pressure are some of the manifestations of stress. If left untreated chronic stress can eventually lead to serious life-threatening illnesses such as heart attacks, kidney disease, and cancer. In the past a common method of stress relief was exercise however as work days have lengthen and it is not atypical for executives to move from meeting to meeting, exercise often becomes an impractical or an inconvenient method to induce short-term stress relief.
New Methods of Stress Relief
Newer methods to relieve stress use techniques that are adaptable and conform to individualistic styles and routines. For instance, sound therapy in the form of recorded information representing “rain sticks’ or Tibetan singing bowls can produce calming results in the few minutes that may exist between meetings and easily available on iPhones or iPads. Five minute relaxation techniques using biofeedback deep muscle exercises are also effective thus gaining control over muscle tension. Associated with biofeedback is the practice of meditation and several personal benefits are obvious and well-known, such as one’s ability to increase focus, exact a sense of calmness, and awareness into the idiosyncratic experiences of the mind.
When Meditation Meets Technology
With recent advancements in neuroimaging and genomics technology scientists are now able to measure the physiological changes that the human mind and body experiences during meditation. A study at the University of Oregon found a significant decrease in the concentration of stress hormones in the blood, indicating signs of a decrease in stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Methods that leverage software technology are convenient and may be found in a number of software applications developed specifically to aid people discover and strengthen mind over body control techniques. Ordinary business tools such as tablets and smart phones can be loaded with software to provide relaxation support for busy executives.
The Melon company is an example of an organization that has developed an application that includes a headband that can detect a person’s brainwave patterns, demonstrating the level of relaxation being experienced. The technology reacts to transmitted signals and a conversion in software that provides useful feedback to the user, so the wearer can adapt by extending time or changing stimulus.
Steve Hale leads technology teams that perform network and security assessments for various companies. He has taught technology at the university level and has earned degrees in accounting, information systems, business and leadership. He can be contacted at [email protected]