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AFP 2023 Blog

AFP 2023 Blog

AFP 2023 Blog

How Your Nervous System Is Impacting Your Ability to Thrive

Jul 11, 2023

By Cait Ross Murphy

The biggest and most expensive problems individuals face today are high stress levels, burnout & feeling overwhelmed. And let’s face it, these are problems for organizations too: People problems lead to profit problems.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), up to 79% of people are experiencing high levels of stress, and up to 50% are experiencing burnout. While all types of individuals at all levels are being impacted, the data tells us that women and middle managers (all genders) are being impacted the most.

The result of these realities is that many people are living and working in survival mode, where the limbic and primitive parts of their brains are in the driver’s seat. This survival state can also be referred to as fight, flight, freeze or fawn mode. When this happens during times of acute or chronic stress, humans cannot access their “smart brain,” i.e., the prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain where we access all of our “human superpowers” — creativity, innovation, problem-solving and strategic planning, to name a few.

Physical or mental stress, poor sleep, traumatic events like the pandemic, overstimulation from technology, overworking and global economic uncertainty are all things that can cause the nervous system to become dysregulated and impact our ability to access these human superpowers.

It often seems like the steps & processes we move through to access our creativity, think strategically, and be effective problem solvers happen solely in our minds, but the reality is that only 20% of our behaviors and results come from our mental minds.

Through the latest neuroscience, we know that 80% of the information that is communicated to the brain comes from what’s happening within the body. This communication network that runs through a superhighway called the “vagus nerve” is the center of possibility — evaluating what’s possible for us at any given moment.

If we want to unlock our creative & strategic superpowers as individuals and as organizations, we must address what’s happening physiologically inside of ourselves and our people — in both the mind and the body.

This can be successfully achieved through a process called Nervous System Regulation. Nervous System Regulation is the ability to move flexibly and with conscious control between the six different nervous system states. When this happens, it’s much easier to bounce back from daily stressors, have higher energy, increase creativity, improve focus & overall mood, and optimize our performance.

Having a regulated nervous system gives us the capacity to create positive change, growth and momentum on both an individual level and at scale, across an organization.

When we learn how to regulate our nervous systems, we take an active role in shifting out of survival mode — and into the nervous system’s optimal state of “growth & repair.” Common outcomes of learning how to regulate your nervous system include:

  • Sharper mental focus.
  • More consistently able to access creativity & a “flow state” while working.
  • Better problem-solving.
  • Higher emotional intelligence that supports increased relational trust, psychological safety and stronger team dynamics.
  • Stronger leadership & communication skills.
  • Increased resilience to navigate change & uncertainty.
  • More confidence in negotiations.
  • More effective in risk-taking.
  • Increased cognitive flexibility to make quicker & more sound decisions.
  • Better overall well-being.

Please join me at AFP 2023 for my session “Increase Mental Resilience to Boost Creativity, Problem-Solving & Strategic Thinking Power Skills” to learn more about your nervous system’s role in helping you to achieve your current & future goals and how to introduce simple, quick & easy “regulation” tools into your day to unlock more of your creative superpowers.

You will leave the session with:

  • Know how to harness the power of the “80/20 rule” to increase your capacity to handle your current work & life demands with greater ease.
  • An understanding of the six different nervous system states and how to identify which state is your most common stress response.
  • Three easy, free, low-resistance regulation tools that you and your team can start doing today to boost your mental resilience and human “superpowers.”
  • A case study example: How an organization increased team resilience by 53%, team trust by 43%, retention by 32% and decreased stress levels by 54% using our proprietary five-step approach.

Check out the full lineup of AFP 2023 sessions on the Session Explorer.