Sylvia was in a very high position in a financial services company when I first coached her. In her thirties and married to two young sons, she was stressed, tired and lost her confidence.
She considered scaling her job and there was no question of promotion. Her anxiety levels were troubled by the roof and her mind. Physically this manifested itself in erratic, panicky breathing and a racing heart. Her energy level was low.
In short, she was in pieces. Like so many of us, Sylvia tried to be all things for all people: perfect mother at home and perfect boss at work. And while there was no doubt that Sylvia was intelligent and competent enough to do her job, her high levels of stress told her body the opposite.
Think of a recent performance that you have experienced, even if it is only a small one. Raise your arms in the shape of the winner. Walk around the room, do your own lap of honor for about 30 seconds, feel the benefits of a boost in dopamine (stock photo)
We don't like the expression & # 39; burnout & # 39 ;, which is medically serious and you can't even get out of bed, but Sylvia was certainly overwhelmed and headed for some sort of crash.
As a body coach and founder of Companies In Motion, my colleagues and I work with many women like Sylvia, who are not geared to their brains and bodies, and are at risk of collapsing due to stress and overtime. Yet we have been able to help them get a grip on their lives by guiding them in the art of Physical Intelligence – the active management of our physiology.
Physical intelligence? What the hell is that you could ask for? We all know about emotional intelligence and IQ, but this is about understanding how our body and brain interact – and, using this knowledge, to improve performance and reduce stress levels.
It is top athletics and some artists use the performance, but we have researched the techniques so that women (and men) can use them in daily life.
In simple terms, Physical Intelligence enables us to strategically influence the almighty hormones and chemicals in our body and brain with simple but surprisingly effective breathing techniques, movements, thought processes and ways of communicating.
A simple smile for yourself in the mirror gives you a burst of serotonin, the happy hormone. And when you smile at someone else, you feel the same rush of serotonin, which lasts two to five minutes (stock photo)
For example, did you know that sleeping naked with someone else releases the happiness hormone oxytocin, while you smile at yourself, releases serotonin?
Or does that turn your head upside down and gives it a good shake, then you solve a build-up of the stress hormone cortisol?
Simple exercises to fight your way to the top
If you want your body to work for you, here are a few simple techniques to change your internal chemistry from an enemy to a friend. . .
SLEEP NAKED TO FEEL AN INDOOR CALM
and not only, but with someone! When you sleep next to someone and have skin-to-skin contact, the oxytocin releases, which in addition to promoting safety feelings also lowers the stress hormone cortisol.
TWIST THAT IS TORSO TO TAKE TENSIONS
This piece can be done unobtrusively at a desk, because it looks like you're just looking behind you. It releases serotonin, the happy hormone, and reduces cortisol.
Begin in a sitting position. Keep the knees and hips forward.
Stick the left hand and arm diagonally down over the body, so that the back of your left hand or wrist presses against the outside of your right thigh.
Extend the left arm and gently but firmly press the back of the hand / wrist against the outside of the thigh and turn the entire torso to the right.
Turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Your hand and arm create leverage so that you can carefully increase the range of the turn. Don't act so much if you cause pain.
Breathe in and out. Lift yourself further, depending on the flexibility of your spine.
Breathe again, release the position, and then slowly look to the front.
Repeat the exercise to the left, with the right arm crossing the body.
THE WINNER POSES TO RELEASE CONFIDENCE
Splashing ice cold water on your face improves brain function by bringing fresh blood to the brain (stock photo)
Think of a recent performance that you have experienced, even if it is only a small one. Raise your arms in the shape of the winner and stand up straight with your arms wide open. Walk around the room, do your own lap of honor for about 30 seconds and feel the benefits of a boost in testosterone and dopamine.
Allow yourself to feel happy about your performance. Continue to celebrate your success for 24 hours, congratulate yourself and share the joy you feel with loved ones.
SMILE IN THE MIRROR TO BE HAPPY
A simple smile for yourself in the mirror gives you a burst of serotonin, the happy hormone. And when you smile at someone else, you feel the same serotonin rush that lasts two to five minutes.
COLD WATER FOR BETTER BRAIN ENERGY
A cold shower (or just getting cold for the last 30 seconds) or ice-cold water on your face improves brain function by bringing fresh blood to the brain, which in turn improves energy gains.
CLOSE YOUR EYES ON YOUR HOME & # 39; I & # 39; TO FIND
This builds inner strength and motivation. Dopamine, the reward and focus substance, is closely linked to the visual cortex of the brain. When we visualize powerful images, the production of dopamine increases. By giving us a central & # 39; me & # 39; Imagine being built into our body, we give ourselves a mental image of strength.
By giving us a central & # 39; me & # 39; Imagine being built into our body, we give ourselves a mental picture of strength (stock photo)
Find a quiet place. Read the instructions below, then close your eyes and imagine a capital letter & # 39; me & # 39; that fits in your body.
First imagine a simple structure. If you could then choose a material that comes to mind, where would you & # 39; I & # 39; be made of? Explore different options. You are the architect and engineer.
You & # 39; me & # 39; can remain simple or can be worked out. It can stretch, contract or grow wings. . . let it develop in any way you choose.
Finish the photo. It must give you a strong and strong feeling.
SHAKED IT TO LEAVE FEELINGS FROM STRESS
This helps if you have an accumulation of negative emotions or if you feel overwhelmed and cannot think clearly.
Flop forward from the waist, relax the upper body, especially the neck.
Take a deep breath. On the exhalation, breathe vigorously the shoulders and torso while making an & # 39; ahhh & # 39; sound. Repeat and correct until all tension has disappeared.
Roll up slowly, with your head last. You will feel different – better and better able to concentrate.
The inversion and vigorous movement around the spine shakes up the spinal fluid, such as mixing a cocktail, and the chemicals that are formed after a cortisol peak is discharged.
It looks a bit like restarting your computer.
PHYSICAL Intelligence, by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton, has been published by Simon & Schuster for £ 14.99. To order a copy, call 0844 571 0640. If a reader has doubts about a recommendation made here due to a medical condition or health risk, they should seek advice from a health professional.
So what is the science behind Physical Intelligence that makes it so powerful?
Now, hundreds of chemicals, including neurotransmitters and hormones, are racing through our bloodstream and nervous system, all influencing how we think, feel, speak and behave.
What most of us do not realize is that we can manage them to improve our emotional health.
We have researched the latest neuroscience and clinical studies to develop simple physical and mental short-cuts that affect the eight most important chemicals in the body.
In short, these chemicals are: testosterone that drives you to achieve and compete (although seen as a & # 39; male & # 39; hormone, testosterone is also present in women and is vital to our well-being, sexual drive and success ); serotonin, the lucky hormone; oxytocin, which is related to feeling safe; dopamine, the chemical reward; cortisol that causes anxiety; dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, the powerful chemical; adrenaline, which stimulates energy, and acetylcholine, which regains its balance.
Sylvia was stopped by not understanding her physiology. Forget breaking the glass ceiling: she couldn't get a grip on her own body.
After a while we discovered Sylvia & # 39; s guilt that a working mother had felt focused in her lower abdomen and manifested as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and digestive problems.
She did not release enough tension and with excessive cortisol levels she was in a catabolic state, with all reactions that normally release energy to the body breaking down cells and engulfing the system with toxins.
Eventually we worked out a slow torso twist to tackle the tension, allowing her body to release the happy hormone serotonin and reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
You find similar twists in Pilates or yoga and we recommend that you do them twice a day – once you are in your workplace. It is the ultimate antidote to a computer screen.
You may think: & It could not have been that simple? & # 39; Although the twist sounds simple, it works in various complex ways, causing a massage of the gut and abdomen, stimulating the production of serotonin.
It also stimulates the vagus nerve, which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system (our recovery and renewal system). It releases acetylcholine, the calming chemical that counteracts the effects of adrenaline and returns the heartbeat to normal. All this in one turn!
With this reconnection between body and mind, Sylvia was happier and more successful, both at work and at home.
While researching our book, which I wrote with my co-director Pat Peyton (who worked with Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 organizations for 30 years), we looked at how Physical Intelligence can change the way you think.
One of our first tasks was to talk to the athletes and dancers who are already using their physical intelligence.
We spoke with English cricket player Claire Taylor MBE and Alessandra Ferri, former head ballerina at the Royal Ballet, who are both tuned to how their brains and bodies work.
Rugby player George Kruis and England's permanent choreographer at the Royal Ballet, Wayne McGregor, CBE, also talked to us about using their PI.
Of course, more in contact with their body, they use Physical Intelligence to succeed – but most people don't even know these techniques exist. However, athletes and certain artists see this mental control over their physical condition as – excuse the pun – a no-brainer. After all, how can someone achieve his / her best performance without understanding how the chemistry of their body works.
Some of our female customers needed a change in mentality.
We see that women in the workplace are still fighting so many clichés, for example, that men are better able to confront themselves for confrontations because of higher levels of testosterone (the hormone associated with risk taking). But if you think you are not competitive, you will not be.
When you think of the bad-tempered female boss you've ever had, she may have to fight to reach that position, so her cortisol levels were much higher than those of a man who thinks he has the right to be there.
If we understand our body chemistry, we can get the situation under control.
Take Amanda. As a senior saleswoman, she prepared for a large presentation, but she was told that her client is considering working with a competitor instead. Her cortisol levels spiked under threat, increasing her heart rate and body temperature.
But instead of panicking the way she used to be, she called a break. Out of sight, she used one of our posture techniques, which we call winner pose. Here she stood tall and stretched out her arms. You can't feel beaten in this way in this pose – watch victorious athletes at the end of a race. It is a position that cements the chemistry of success, which is associated with a wave of testosterone and high dopamine.
Amanda's open body posture ignored the effects of cortisol. Within seconds she felt the chemical flow of emotions turn, her mental state shifting from defeat to self-assured. She returned to the meeting and won the client.
Had Amanda fallen into her seat and the threat of overwhelming her, it would have been a different story. When you bring your body in the form of collapse, you go into a defensive state. We give our minds the physical message that we have lost the battle.
Sleep naked to feel an inner peace and not just with someone. When you sleep next to someone and have skin-to-skin contact, it releases oxytocin, which, in addition to promoting safety feelings, lowers stress hormone (stock photo)
The key is to use posture to manipulate your body chemistry.
Women are poor at reaching and then celebrating, but it is vital. Because while you create those wave-winning chemicals, you win more chances. Yes, men have more testosterone. But women are much more sensitive to it, and a little push for women is the equivalent of a huge outburst for a man.
We have also developed mental techniques to improve your physical intelligence.
When Susan, a single mother in her forties and a successful sales manager at a major pharmaceutical company, wanted to improve sales techniques, she tried to fight with her male boss, who had a very powerful personality.
It did not work. She met his force with violence, which ended in failure.
But then Susan spent time thinking up positive thoughts to boost her feelgood oxytocin levels – which are crucial for teamwork because they are part of being kind and empathetic.
Turn that torso to tackle tension: this stretch can be done unobtrusively at a desk because it looks like you're just looking behind you. It releases serotonin, the happy hormone, and reduces cortisol (stock photo)
She then considered the argument from his point of view and could calmly discuss the points of disagreement with him.
There is no doubt that the number of women at a higher level in business, especially in technology and finance, is still too low. But if we understand our physiology, we can take control of the situation and ensure that our voices are heard at every level.
For example, I worked with Kate a year ago, a researcher of just over 30 years in a large food company. She was very good at her job, but shy, introverted and unable to communicate with high-quality colleagues.
A year later, and she has just presented a groundbreaking innovation to 70 of her company's senior global team.
Her secret? In the past year she has used a technique that we have developed, the Shake Out inversion, which she calls the Upside Down Beyonce. You tip your head upside down and shake it back and forth to relieve pressure, instead of the singer shaking her head as she flows full of dance.
A few weeks ago she wrote to us that she feels stronger and calmer and can perform in stressful circumstances.
All customer names have been changed.
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