Are you a Type A personality? Ambitious, status conscious, always on the go? If you are then did you know that you are 60% more likely to suffer from burnout than other personality types? In this video I’ll be talking about three technologies that you can use to stay well and avoid burnout and chronic stress.
In the 1980s, fuelled by rampant capitalism and consumerism, research in to the mortality rate of business leaders grew and yielded many concepts and theories as to the cause of this apparent epidemic.
The 80s - the decade of heart disease
One of the most famous and regularly cited papers was published in 1987 by Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman.
In this paper, the authors segregated people in to two types:
Type A – outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organised, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management.
Type B – People with Type B personality tend to be more tolerant of others, are more relaxed than Type A individuals, more reflective, experience lower levels of anxiety and display a higher level of imagination and creativity. In other words, not Type A.
And over 8 years of research they found that Type A personalities are 58% more likely to develop coronary heart disease.
The world needs Type As
Now being a Type A is great for your career prospects. They tend to float towards the top of organisations, being incredibly driven and comfortable with sacrificing their own down time and often wellbeing to win that contract or get that promotion.
But it’s detrimental to your health, as they are poor at managing their own stress. Type As are usually unaware of how stress affects their behaviour and, consequently, the impact that their stress has on the culture and the stress levels of their employees.
The trouble is the world needs Type As, we just need them to stay well. And in my experience, Type A’s don’t sit still long enough to meditate. They find low energy stress relievers boring, which is where gamification comes in.
Gamification - Type A motivation
Gamification is the process of turning a relatively dull and repetitive process in to a game, with scoring. The fact that such a process has a score means that most Type A’s are immediately motivated by the thought of getting better.
So when I’m coaching Type A’s, technology allows me to actively compete with and challenge my clients to become better at Stress Management.
3 biofeedback devices that reduce stress
So here are three incredibly valuable devices that I use to keep them well whilst still having all the positive benefits of being a Type A.
Heartmath Inner Balance
Number 1, the Inner Balance from Heartmath uses your Heart Rate Variability to teach you breathing techniques whilst feeding back in real time the effect of using these techniques is having on your nervous system.
The App that comes with it records your scores and allows you to increase the challenge level, whilst it also allows your coach to see your scores and offer tips and challenge you to improve.
I usually see improvements in my Client within a week, and if you’re suffering from burnout, you will feel a lot like your old self within a month by using the system for just 10 minutes a day.
It’s not cheap, retailing at £159 if you buy it directly, but I’ve never had anyone return one.
Getting a Type A to meditate long enough to get benefits from it is life trying to push water up hill. Sitting still, doing nothing is almost completely the opposite of their normal behaviour. Many Type As tell me they tried meditation but it stressed them out.
Enter the Muse Headband. A portable, consumerised EEG or Electroencephalography device, it measures your brain waves and feeds that back to with soundscapes through your headphones. Find yourself in a relaxed and focused state and you’ll hear lapping waves and birds singing. The more jumbled your thinking, the stronger the waves become. It keeps reminding you to focus, and the results in just a week are astounding.
Add to this the fact that your performance is rated, and your coach can see your scores, and you’ll feel the benefits in days rather than months.
Whilst the Muse Headband does make you look a little like an extra from Star Trek, their technology is also integrated in to a smart pair of sunglasses called the Smith Lowdown Focus. So you can use them in public without attracting unwanted attention.
The Oura Ring takes a different approach and rather than provide you the real-time feedback necessary to improve the skills of self-regulation, it is like having a wellness coach sitting on your shoulder all day and night.
So the various metrics that this ingenious ring gathers are brought together to provide an overall measure of your resilience, which is a measure of how much stress you can take today before you push yourself in to bad places physically and mentally.
By bringing your Heart Rate Variability, Skin Temperature, Sleep and Activity levels together, and throwing some machine learning in the mix, it helps you develop a better understanding of what drains your batteries and, more importantly, how you can keep them topped up so you can perform when you need to.
The result is that clients actively manage their stress levels. If they’ve had a busy day and not enough sleep, they back off those Type A type evening activities – Crossfit changes to a recuperative swim and an earlier night.
Search on Kickstarter and Indiegogo and you’ll find dozens of new biofeedback ideas looking for funding. As the technology gets smaller and smarter, it will be the technology that gently nudges you in the right direction during the day that wins out. And in this respect, Oura is the pick of the bunch.
Because when we are stressed, our wellbeing takes a back seat, and we all need someone (or something) to look out for us and keep us well.
#stress #biofeedback #heartmath #oura #museheadband