The “Psychophysiological Principle”: Its Impact on Your Life, Career and COVID-19

Man balancing a happy man & a sad man

The “Psychophysiological Principle”: Its Impact on Your Life, Career and COVID-19

The unprecedented challenge that COVID-19 presents makes me think that our recent blog about the value of “staying in touch” was right on the money…admittedly in a totally unintended way. Being and feeling connected is now more important than ever. []

Equally as important, it has also caused me to reflect on my formal training and career as a psychologist and my fascination with the Mind-Body Connection. (Or if you prefer, the “Psychophysiological Principle”.)

I did my doctoral dissertation research on unique applications of Biofeedback Relaxation Training, and, as part of this dissertation research back in the 1980s, I learned about the Psychophysiological Principle. In essence, this states that every change in our physiological state is accompanied by a concomitant change in our mental-emotional state, conscious or unconscious.

And conversely, every change in our mental-emotional state is accompanied by a concomitant change in our physiological state. For example and in general, when we are feeling mentally relaxed and happy, we will find reduced muscle tension levels in our frontalis muscles (forehead and neck), brachioradialis muscles (forearms) and in our trapezoidal muscles (across our shoulders) along with increased warmth (measured by blood flow) in our fingertips and deeper, diaphragmatic breathing.

In contrast, when we are scared or stressed, our natural fight or flight responses kick in and are associated with increased muscle tension in those areas, decreased blood flow to our hands and fingertips, and more shallow breathing. Research has found conclusively that training ourselves to alter and focus our thinking can have a major impact on how we are physically feeling and, in turn, how effectively we will relate to others.

What I learned and what amazed me from these learning experiences was that most of us don’t have a full understanding of what’s going on within our bodies, until we reach certain pain thresholds. However, by giving people discrete information that they can understand and apply in their daily journeys, we can help them prevent or significantly reduce these debilitating symptoms.

I was impressed—fascinated really—by the results when I showed my private practice patients how to self-regulate and to reduce many of their physical symptoms as well as their general anxiety levels

Coincidentally, it was these lessons regarding our own self-perceptions and those of others we depend upon which drove me to establish The Synergy Organization in 1989, and to provide progressive organizations and their prospective leaders with access to evidence-based executive search® and evidence-based executive assessments. Meaning we were giving them the right information that mattered most to their mutual success to help them to make accurate hiring, selection, development and retention decisions the first time.

The key takeaway of this message is this: As we are bombarded with second-by-second updates about COVID-19, please consider the Psychophysiological Principle and the Serenity Prayer to help protect yourself, your family and friends, patients, customers and coworkers.

Here are some evidence-based approaches you can use to make things much better for everyone:

• Breathe in deeply (while maintaining safe distances whenever possible),
• Do progressive muscle relaxation exercises while you are sitting or standing,
• Think positive thoughts,
• Count your blessings,
• Stay in touch with others who may be reluctant to reach out to you,
• Be kind to others and apply what Mr. Rogers taught us, [], and
• Above all else “Wash your hands!”

I welcome your reactions to these thoughts. And, as always, please feel free to reach out to me personally if I can be of help to you in any way.

In the meantime, stay well and safe.

Best wishes,
Kenneth R. Cohen, PhD
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
The Synergy Organization
(267) 983-6503 Direct