Our brains are under constant assault from stressors. To reduce the amount of stress you feel and to improve your resilience, move. Move around physically. Exercise. Walk while on conference calls. Move. Movement has huge benefits in terms of stress reduction and resilience.
A data breach impacting millions. A failure of your core systems due to too much volume leaving users stranded. Two key executives leaving without successors in place.
If you are a leader, imagining each of the aforementioned, true, situations, is enough to double your heart rate. And it should. Thinking about attacks, major human errors, and poor planning triggers the region of your brain that causes stress.
Your amygdala, which I call your alarm, is a tiny, almond shaped region in the middle, left, and right sides of your brain. Bears have alarms. So do iguanas. Our ancestors a thousand years ago did too. Animals and old-timers needed their alarms to stay safe. To avoid danger, they had to be able to run and hide from nastier creatures or avoid the wrong food or water.
Our problem today is that too many moments in life feel like a Sabre-tooth tiger approaching, as we sit safely in our offices, drive comfortably in our cars, and have full fridges of healthy, nutritious food (in addition to cake, wine, and cheese).
That’s why you and your execs are stressed. Their alarms are on all the time. The risk from hackers has never been higher. Our technology is more powerful and more complicated than ever, and only continues to become more so of each. Our teams are made of independent, smart colleagues who will take a better job. As we think about these realities, unlike danger from which you can fight or flee, we need modern solutions. So many of our stressors are stuck in our head and we don’t know what to do.
What is also common with our ancestors is that they too sought relief from the things that stressed them out. What used to be the purview of shaman and healers is now the focus of neuroscientists and applied psychologists. Many of the answers that the ancients discovered intuitively, we now have empirical data to back up. You don’t have to let the stress you feel last. You can inoculate yourself from the real triggers that may, in fact, get worse in the years to come.