Stress Resilience

with Paul Campbell

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Stress itself is not bad unless chronic and prolonged.

Paul Campbell

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

Lessons Learned

Stress is the psychological perception of event.

So much in our modern day turns on the fight or flight stress switch unnecessarily.

The most effective training is periodization with high intensity followed by rest and recovery.


Lesson: Stress Resilience with Paul Campbell

Step #1 Stress: Stress itself is not bad unless chronic and prolonged

Stress relates to the perception psychologically of an event. It really taps into the oldest parts of our brain, the fight or flight response and that's when our adrenals secrete the cortisol.

The problem is that when our brains were just forming, those threats were truly threats. They were existential threats; we were being chased by something or we had to chase something for food. Now we're in traffic and we're like, “Oh my goodness, the meeting starts at 3 p.m. and traffic on the 101. I'm never going to make it!” That triggers the fight or flight but we're not threatened and the problem is that there's so much in our modern day that turns on the switch and keeps it turned on, that our bodies keep secreting this stuff and we are not being threatened in that way, so this psychological perception triggers a whole bunch of physiological response hormones secreting. That's where the tightness comes in, the sweat, all of those different types of things, but there's a bunch of different stuff happening at a cellular level which we didn't understand before that was really having the impact on disease and health.

There are a number of bio-markers or biological indicators of stress. Allostatic load is one of those bio-markers. Cortisol is another bio-marker; cortisol being the hormone that our bodies secrete when we're in stress. Going back to allostatic load, a good way to think about it is as a composite of indicators within the body of a prolonged experience under stress. So, it gives you a really good indication of how much stress trauma your body has endured over a period of time.

Stress in general, stress is not a bad thing. Chronic stress, prolonged stress, is a bad thing. So, we want to be able to manage and control to peak. There's a big presentation, a big product push, the whole team has to come together, tight timelines, that kind of stress is good. But if it stays constantly in that firefighting fire drill mode, that's where the term “burnout”, now we understand that's not just a psychological term. It actually means right down to the core of ourselves is burning out and what we now understand is that that introduces a series of health or biological consequences.

Our immune system gets compromised when we're under a high level of chronic stress. It promotes inflammation and inflammation is not a good thing to be always turned on in the system because that opens us up to disease, and then I talked about our genetic expression being compromised or our DNA being compromised by high levels of chronic stress.

It's good when it is over a short period of time and you feel a sense of autonomy or control. So you or your team is saying, “We're hitting this milestone and it's going to happen and we're preparing for it,” and that there's enough recovery periods.

So, going back to the sports for me — I use a lot of sports analogies — we now know that the most effective way to train is periodization. So, high intensity, rest and recovery. High intensity, rest and recovery. It's not this: you burn yourself out, you're susceptible to injury, and you don't produce your best work. If you feel you're always on, then you're not producing your best work. You've got to be able to figure out how to take that step back, exhale, recover, and then come back in to a high focus point but for a short period of time.

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