Stress Resilience

with Paul Campbell

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Fostering psychological resilience changes perception over time.

Paul Campbell

CEO & Co-Founder of bLife Inc, Director of Business Development at Microsoft

Lessons Learned

Performance starts in the brain with a sense of control, direction, and purpose.

How do I perform at the best in my life regardless of my role?

Those who are psychological resilient recover quickly from set backs and develop mental toughness.


Lesson: Stress Resilience with Paul Campbell

Step #4 Resilience: Fostering psychological resilience changes perception over time

Mind fitness is a term that's becoming more popular, more common, and it's really just a way of describing, by way of a parallel to physical fitness, how we can train our mind, and our mind from a cognitive standpoint, from a mental standpoint, from an emotional standpoint. So it's really a container for all the things around training of the brain and the mind.

When I was incubating the start of my company, I went to a facility based, it was a training facility, based in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, it was called Athletes' Performance. They've since changed their name to EXOS, and it's a training facility for elite athletes and wannabe athletes. I fit into the latter category.

And they have a really interesting philosophy. There are four pillars that support their training philosophy, and in order it's mindset, movement, nutrition, and recovery. So, when I was there, the first question I asked was, "How do you train mindset?". What is that state of mind? Basically, I realized that what I was thinking about around mind-fitness was very much what they're talking about, which is that performance begins with the mind and the brain, and feeling a sense of control, direction, and purpose, and not feeling like you're a victim to the circumstances.

Within sports, you've got a very contained environment where you can see this stuff play out. You're winning, and then you're losing. How do you respond to that? Does that defeat you mentally, which then impacts your physical performance? You have another set to do of whatever exercise it is, and your body's telling you, "You know what, this is uncomfortable, I shouldn't do this", but your mind knows you can do it. How do you overcome that?

So they use this sort of physical environment and training for that to draw the parallels to the other parts of our life, and that's what was really a great experience for me. It was great exercise, I learned a whole bunch about the body, but they take a perspective of how the body and the mind have to work together, which is very much the perspective that I believe in and believe that there are tools that we all need to incorporate into our lives.

A way to think about it is from a performance standpoint. How do I perform at my best in my life, regardless of my role? Partner, parent, employer, employee, citizen, all of these roles require us to be our best. What gets in the way of us being our best? There's a lot of things mentally and emotionally that can get in the way, from, I keep using the traffic example, but that's a very minor one. If we go back and think about all of the things that did happen or didn't happen, or we wanted to happen to us, "I wanted to go to that school, I didn't get in". They're all things that can get in the way of us being our best.

We're calling it a brain-based stress management and resilience training, as a phrase. Mind-fitness, depending on the audience, is the engagement in the program. So it’s like, “What am I doing? I'm sort of training my mind.” The outcome is about managing or reducing stress. So you want stress to go down and you want your resilience, psychological resilience and physiological resilience, to go up, and so all of these exercises are just means to that end.

Psychological resilience and physiological resilience, they're related, it's all integrated. Being psychologically resilient means that over time, the way that you perceive things changes. So what a month ago would have put you in a spiral and a funk for three days, now, because you've been engaging in these practices and these exercises, now, a day. Then it might be 20 minutes and you just shake it off.

That's a way that you would be able to self-assess that I'm becoming more psychologically resilient. Whatever it was that was a trigger for sending me off, and we all know what our triggers are that cause stress and can put us into a funk, by being more engaged in these sort of proactive, positive, calming, emotion-centering exercises, you add to the trigger. It puts you into that state less, for a shorter period of time, or it doesn't put you into there at all ultimately.

Now, how that psychological resilience impacts the physiological resilience sort of goes back to what happens with the stress response. So now, I'm not secreting all that cortisol for as long. I'm not tense. My sleep hasn't been impacted. I'm not in a bad mood when I go home with my child. All of those things have physiological components that now because you shorten the amount of time that you're psychologically in a place, it correlates with the physiological piece, and that means that you're becoming mentally tougher and physically tougher as a result.

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