The MentalGym® technology
The Technology for Optimal Performance
Two divisions of the Nervous System are the Sympathetic (Stress) and Parasympathetic (Calm). These systems balance each other out. During stress adrenalin is released, our heart beats quickly and we breathe faster. Blood pressure rises and blood sugar levels increase. When we are calm, our heart rate and breathing rates slow down and blood pressure and sugar levels decrease. Our performance and cognitive abilities increase. Chronic long-term stress can have negative consequences on health and focus.
n the past 20 years we have developed proprietory algorithms to optimally train both sympathetic and parasympathetic branches to achieve peak performance.
The MentalGym™ is an effective preventive resilience-focused intervention for anyone who needs to perform under stress (and wishes to stay healthy…).
The MentalGym™ is a complete methodology that draws on two main sources: Mental Fitness Training, which improves resilience to stress using biofeedback and psychological cognitive behavioral interventions, and structured thinking tools that address mental fixedness and promote creative problem solving.
The program’s main goals are to help trainees reduce errors made due to faulty decision making under stress and to improve their performance under challenging and stressful conditions.
This is accomplished by:
• Identifying stress affecting their performance;
• Monitoring their psycho-physiological reactions;
• Acquiring and applying tools for maintaining psychophysiological balance;
Applying problem-solving tools that address mental obstacles and generate creative solutions; and Gaining confidence and proficiency through their command of the integrated method. The MentalGym™ training program creates, in effect, a virtuous circle: The balance and focus achieved through the mental training enables an effective use of the thinking tools, while the problem solving tools themselves support the trainee’s tranquility and self-confidence.
The training in the MentalGym™ focuses on several levels of human functioning under stress. Training incorporates considerable psycho-education relating to stress and performance, with examples derived from relevant personal experience. Psycho-education is an important factor since preparatory information reduces the tendency to focus narrowly on threat-related stimuli, thereby diverting mental resources from task relevant demands.
Most of the training is centered on biofeedback-assisted learning of different psychophysiological and mental coping skills that have proved to be efficacious in stress management and stress inoculation programs (e.g., abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, positive self-talk, visual–motor behavioral rehearsal, goal setting, focused attention, problem solving, etc.). After the skill acquisition stage, trainees apply the techniques while experiencing increasingly elevated levels of stressors including imagery, simulators, and graded in vivo exposures, first with, and later on without, the biofeedback.
The MentaGym™ model was found to be very helpful in the maintenance and the generalization of self-regulatory skills. In the following section I will describe in detail one of the advanced training methods, which was made possible due to the special setting and the availability of multiple biofeedback workstations.