Team performance: advanced relaxation techniques

Taking a break makes biological sense. In Harvard Business Review article, Are You Working Too Hard, leading Mind/Body Researcher Howard Benson describes how to use advanced relaxation techniques to produce breakthroughs where you or your team have got “stuck”.


Howard is the author of The Relaxation Response (1975) and more recently The Breakout Principle (2003) and has spent 35 years researching neuroscience and stress.

The four stages to the “breakout principle”:

  1. First you wrestle with a difficult problem until you get to the point where you are no longer making progress. This is known as reaching the plateau on the Yerkes-Dodson curve of stress versus performance.
  2. Secondly you suddenly stop and walk away from the problem and do something utterly different such as a relaxation exercise or just taking the dog for a walk.
  3. Thirdly you achieve the actual breakout experience triggered by the previous step. The biological explanation for being able to produce these breakouts is that the relaxation “shifts our internal biology by producing more nitric oxide and the neurotransmitters associated with well-being and creativity.”
  4. Finally you return to what you were doing with the new insight and a heightened state of confidence in general

Breakout with teams

Benson goes on to describe how the breakout technique can be used in a team or group situation.

In the first step the team are asked to prepare for the team meeting by thoroughly researching the difficult tasks/problems they are facing – this is to bring them to the plateau of the performance curve.

Step 2 is to facilitate the relaxation technique as a team for about 10 minutes.

Step 3 is to bring the team’s focus back to the problems at hand.

According to Benson “its very likely that more than one insightful solution will emerge from the group”.

Breakout at home

This approach would be particularly valuable for virtual workers who may find themselves sitting in front of a computer screen or manuscript for a long time after they have ceased to be productive.

The irony is one of the unique potential advantages of virtual working is the flexibility to just take a break and do something or go somewhere without worrying about what your colleagues might think!

Tags: ,

Comments (0)| Related (3) |

Print this article



Wow. I've never seen anything explained like this before. With reference to the different hormones released and everything.

I work from home and when I get to a stage where I'm just not being productive any more I either go to a yoga class (but these are at set times so not always convenient) or I practice Visual Relaxation. ie. I close my eyes and visualise something peaceful and calm (a picture of a beach in the Maldives helps me get going :-) for minimum of 10 minutes.

It sounds a little gooky but really helps me refocus and return feeling like I can get through any brick wall I was hitting.

Does anyone else have any visual relaxation tips?


Bioteams Books Reviews

Leadership under pressure: the two worst mistakes

Leadership under pressure: the two worst mistakes
I have been thinking a lot about what happens when a leader gets under severe pressure, usually because things are not going according to plan. It seems to me this is the very essence of real leadership and where leaders can really justify their salaries. BUT according to Professor Dietrich Dorner, in his excellent book The Logic Of Failure: Recognizing And Avoiding Error In Complex Situations, there are two very tempting but ultimately disastrous tangents a leader can pursue in a crisis instead of addressing the real issues.

Buy it now from:


continue reading

Click here to check all Bioteams book reviews

Ken's LinkedIn Profile

Follow Ken's Blogs

NASA Widget2_160x40.jpg


Featured Categories

Trending Topics

agility analytics ants autopoiesis bees biomimicry bioteaming bioteams change management collaboration Collaboration collective intelligence community complex systems dashboards digital dashboards ecosystems excel experiential learning flock games high-performing teams HPT innovation leadership learning meetings mobile phones organizational teams penguins pheromones self-managed teams serious games simulators social media Social Networks social networks social software swarm swarm intelligence swarmteams teams teamwork The Networked Enterprise tit for tat VEN videos virtual communities virtual enterprise virtual enterprise networks virtual teams visualization web2.0 wisdom of crowds

Click for more...

Featured Article

Team joining hands

The secret DNA of high-performing virtual teams

Bioteaming – the secret to high-performing, self-organising, virtually networked teams... more

Locations of visitors to this page

Bioteams iphone app
Bioteams android app


Bioteams Lite


Latest Full Articles

Bioteams Assessor - Instantly check how good your team is?
BioScore Calculator – Instantly see if you need Bioteams
Discover Bioteams principles Yourself via Action Learning

Bioteams Manifesto

Communities and Networks Connection

Bioteams Ice-Breaker Zone

Only Fools and Horses Video Clip Funny Team Collaboration Video Dilbert Mission Statement Generator Ali G Video Funny Red Dwarf Video  FatherTed  Pixar

News Feed

Sign up for RSS   RSS Feed Subscription
        (What's RSS?)

10 Most popular posts

Recent posts


Download Browsealoud