The Queen of Stress, as Martha Stewart once baptized her, even by her standards, has an incredibly volatile week. Dr. Kathleen Hall, a former Wall Street businessman who has become a man of stress management and mindfulness, is conscious of everyday life in the process of editing her latest book (Oak Havn, 2014). He also manages several other projects and runs his companies amid the Atlanta Ice Storm in late January that paralyzed the city.
Among the thousands trapped in the storm, her assistant gathers in a car in the parking lot for 25 hours without food or warm clothing (911 drowns and does not respond), her doctor husband’s at a local hospital where he cannot get everything. It bothers. Equipment needed due to icy roads, and a girl doctor trapped by a storm on her way to the hospital to help care for the injured. To complete it, Hall falls on the ice while trying to help his assistant, puts a number on his head and removes some skin from his face – which caused the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in a 2009 accident.
However, in our conversation, although he speaks fast, his voice is calm and measured.
Founder of the Institute for Stress and the Mental Life Network and author of “Change Your Life: Overbooked?” “He’s crazy here right now,” he says. Work too much? Drowned? and two other related books. All you hear are emergency vehicles and helicopters and nothing moves.
Hall manages such days, as he has learned to cope with every other day.
“This is where we talk about understanding stress and how to manage it,” he says. “Information stress. It is neutral, bad or not good. Many people teach people to get rid of it. There are many layers of stress. I teach my people to be curious about it and not to see it negatively. “Be curious. I put everything that goes on in one file in my mind, so that I do not drown.”
He also has a more physical approach that reflects his thought processes. For each of my projects, my companies, the two books I work on, and the client projects, I keep a bag with a separate label in my office. If anyone calls me about something, I hand it over and work from there. I never flip the papers. “I am never stressed.”
Emphasis on essentials
Stress keeps more than 40 percent of adults awake at night, according to a 2013 American Psychological Association survey. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that stress-related illnesses cost companies about $ 200 billion annually due to increased absenteeism, delays, and the loss of talented workers. The institute reports that between 70 and 90 percent of staff visits to the hospital are related to stress, and that job stress is directly related to a lack of productivity and a loss of competitive advantage.
However, stress is a natural human reaction. When we perceive a threat, the nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones stimulate the body for emergency actions. The heart beats faster, the muscles tighten, the blood pressure rises, the breathing becomes faster, and the senses become faster. These physical changes in strength and endurance increase the speed of reaction and increase concentration, preparing us to fight or escape danger.
When he worked on Wall Street, Hall was fascinated by all the “men who bought Porsches, got married, and drank to the point of death, cocaine plates at night as we went out.” “I saw what stress did to them.”
“Then I met Warren Buffett and some other celebrities … they were more stressed than these jokers, but they were disciplined, happy. Bill Moyers was in New York at the time doing some things “This is the future. The future of business, the future of medicine, is discovering this stress response and why some people are so affected and some are not,” he said.
Hall has spent years consciously rooting for stress, managing stress, and living. He examines both the “spiritual model” – living with indigenous tribes and studying with the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu – and the “medical model” created by the pioneers of Harvard, Duke and other universities.
In the end, stress can be a positive force, motivating a person to throw a golf ball to the edge of a cup or shake up a job interview. But often – like when a strange ice storm overturns Atlanta – it’s a negative force. Prolonged stress can become chronic unless steps are taken to eliminate the source or effectively manage it.
“Stress goes beyond psychology or psychologists,” says Hall. “If we did not get a wound or a headache or a divorce or – I hate to say that – we did not suffer, we would not change. “This is exactly what human beings are like.”
Perception is critical
In June 2013, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., a health psychologist, Ph.D., admitted to a TED Talk audience that she had changed her attitude toward stress. Over the past decade, he has put a lot of energy into telling people that stress is bad for your health and makes it an enemy. But today, he says, stress is only bad when one understands it, and confirms three studies.
“If one finds the body’s response to stress (faster breathing and heart rate) to be useful in preparing for action or coping with a stressor, it is likely to be ‘less stressful, more anxious, and more confident,'” McGonigal said. , Lecturer at Stanford University.
But what McGonigall found most interesting in these studies was how participants’ physical stress responses changed. Instead of constricting blood vessels as the heart rate increases (one of the causes of cardiovascular health problems), as usual, the arteries of those who thought their body’s response was useful remained calm, reflecting a state that is very similar to joy and courage. .
Over a lifetime of stressful experiences, this biological change can be the difference between a stress-induced heart attack at age 50 and a good life up to age 90. This is really what new science of stress shows, how you think about stress is important. My goal as a health psychologist has changed. “I do not want to get rid of your stress anymore, I want to make you better in stress.”
McGonigal urged his audience to see stress as a positive physiological mechanism that prepares your body to face a challenge, a major problem, increase flexibility, or learn something new. He says challenging yourself is commendable, but do not criticize too much. Failures are just failures, if you see them that way, learn from your mistakes and tell yourself that they made you better.
Another way to prevent stress from hurting you is to recognize and change negative thoughts – do not make a situation catastrophic or draw unfounded conclusions. Seek the support of selected family, friends and colleagues to help manage stress. McGonigal referred to scientific research that concluded that social support helps release oxytocin, called the “caressing hormone,” because it creates bonds between people. This hormone also has important physical properties, such as helping to regenerate heart cells in the event of post-stress injury.
Trauma reconnects the work of life
If he had ever doubted, Hall’s efforts with death and recovery in 2009 sealed his belief in his life’s work. He was on a career spree at the time, appearing regularly with Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Mehmet Oz, and was about to start a television network based on his philosophy of mental life. Coming from lunch with Steven Spielberg, he was crossing the street in Beverly Hills when he was hit by a car at 60 miles per hour. He was resuscitated on Mount Sinai, but suffered brain damage.
“It took me the first year to walk, to think, to remember, and everything else,” he says. “I closed my companies like a holiday and came back slowly. The books I wrote and what I taught before are actually what set me back. “They were like crumbs that brought me back to myself.”
He still works on the way back.
“I was hit so hard that people immediately, meaning I have no memory of the accident, nothing,” says Hall. He still struggles with PTSD (one of his book projects on this subject) when “anything touches my head. Even getting in and out of the car can cause hysterical crying, difficulty breathing – I tremble everywhere and go back to this dark place. “The good news is that I know how to manage it.”
Hall acknowledges that he still encounters people in companies who are initially skeptical of his stress management philosophies and conscious life guidelines.
“But we have long-term studies that show that people who do mindfulness exercises and live consciously actually live longer, have better health outcomes, have a variety of things, are less violent with children,” he says. I tell company leaders that the balance of their work and life is bipolar, this is a dinosaur, this is an old thinking, and you cannot live and then work, then work and then live. “If you are mindful, it is seamless – at home you look after your children, your lover or your partner, and at work you are mindful.” (He owns the Mindful Living brand and distinguishes it from mindfulness, which he says still has a Buddhist, almost spiritual, meaning.)
“[Part of] the mental life is a model of reflection,” says Hall. “It’s an ancient business model, a spiritual model, [and] taught by the Wharton School of Business. They do not call it that, but that is what lives consciously, that is, you do an action, then you come back and consciously think about it. “Awareness means waking up, awareness, and the facts are that whether you are a manager or a mother, the people who reach the peak are usually the most aware.”
His clients also include aspiring entrepreneurs, such as someone who “looks at successful, experienced people with a depressing sad passion, I’m not like you. I could never be like that. I look at them exactly the opposite and say, “Are you kidding? Hey, let’s have a cup of coffee. I love you. Let’s go.” “
Scroll through stress soup
Hall says he runs the ACE exercise, which traders find efficient and useful.
What Hall still finds “totally unbelievable” is that 90% of people who participate in exercise procrastinate doing things that will have a positive effect. “What they say is, ‘I was fine, I worked 80 hours this week, so I can play golf.'” “Or ” finish your work ” list the joy or what you like before practicing.”
Hall could even put his recent fall on the ice, which caused his post-traumatic stress, in a healthy perspective. “I immediately texted my friends and someone brought me some soup,” he says. “When I needed my husband, he came home and we just sat there and turned on the brainless TV.
It’s kind of like getting the flu virus, but what I’ve told my publisher is that I’m glad it happened, because I write more about my PTSD experience in my books, and now I’m back from trying it again. With those coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, NFL players suffering from concussion effects, many of whom are young and trying to start their own company.
The key to working on different layers of stress is identifying the stressors, inside or out, and working with them. “This process creates new energy and allows us to say, ‘Wow, this is really great,'” says Hall. My life is changing because I do not give up on these issues. “I try to learn about it through people and through myself.”