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Human Performance Blog

Human Performance in a Pandemic

People and countries around the world are preparing for COVID-19 and the effect it can, will and already has had on healthcare, the economy and life in general. It is important to take a step back for a second as we individually and collectively prepare for the onset.

As a Human Performance Specialist, I wanted to discuss some of the behaviors you might have witnessed and share a tool to help readers deal with the high pressure situations that are currently unfolding and in their preparation and response.

Reacting to stress, high pressure situations, uncertainty/uncontrollables and the anxiety that exists at healthy and unhealthy levels is what we do in Human Performance. In this instance, Life is to be approached, much like a Sport. By this I mean, calmly, rationally, strategically and yes with degrees of what we fondly call Mental Toughness or Flexibility.

So lets discuss how we can increase our performance in this Pandemic by reviewing some important material that you can consider as part of your ‘training’. Also, what is one of the simplest strategies that you can employ today to help you be prepared.

So what is happening? Have you found yourself getting caught up in the hysteria or confused by others responses?

Here are a couple things to consider, gathered from research on Human Behavior.

Conflicting messages cause extreme behavior. Interestingly though, this behavior although considered extreme, it can also be understandable. This exists when the presenting issue doesn’t match the advised solution. So everytime you see a broadcast, read an article or have a conversation with anyone that feeds the fear response there is a part of you that wants to act. Do something. In the absence of a solution that matches your perceived level of threat, behavior becomes ‘extreme’. In this era of social media where there is a lot of information available, unfortunately, much of it can be considered ‘fake news’ coupled with unclear direction or a lack of transparency from leaders further conflict ensues. Because what/who do you believe?

We look to others to help us define what behaviors are appropriate or not. These Social Cues are what can be used to explain the grocery store panic buying. Even from pictures, which is the main medium used in social media, more fear is incited. It is almost as if, you are compelled to tell yourself that 'if everyone is buying that, then I should too!' It is then rationalized, with thoughts like, 'I would have to buy it anyway and it wont waste'…aka Toilet Paper.

The natural response to a threat is the Fight, Flight or Freeze Response. These three determine how we act when faced with a fear, real or imagined. The Fight response, where you are able to make decisions and act appropriately to avoid the danger. The Flight response would be to retreat and seek protection or solitude and the Freeze response is to avoid/ignore the danger. Your response is determined by your perceived level of threat, preparedness and ability to act.

With a bit more information to help us understand our behaviors. The second tip that we should all consider (The first being - WASH YOUR HANDS) is to STAY CALM.

STRESS weakens the Immune System!

A weakened immune system puts you at risk of infection and as a result, the people you come into contact with. With this in mind, even though it may not be what you want to hear, take some time to achieve a sense of calm that you can manage. If you are experiencing any kind of anxiety or find it difficult to focus during this time please reach out and talk to someone. Your mental well being is DIRECTLY related to your physical well being. Practice self care, deep breathing, meditation exercises and avoid information gorging.

Stay Calm, Stay Clean, Stay Safe

For more tips/tools that you can use to understand/adjust your stress responses and strategies that you can use to help you adapt and perform at your best during this time.

Check in with Dr. V for a free online consultation


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