Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why food, exercise and sleep are your business

My personal trainer, Dan, is making an heroic effort to understand that his job is not to push me. His job is to help me withstand the negative effects of stress so that I can work better.

Apparently, it's an odd concept.

We experience stress as a physiological phenomena. We know we have too much stress when we hurt or malfunction in some noticeable way. Our heads ache, our backs ache, our stomachs ache. We shake or crunch or grind our teeth. We respond in tangible ways to whatever input is creating metaphorical pressure.

So why is it strange to manage stress by changing physiology?

It's not entirely strange, of course. It's often-preached; apparently, it's practiced less. One reason for this might be that we assume that problems should be solved in the same realm that created them. If we are stressed by work, we assume the way to manage stress is to change our working conditions. If our thoughts create our stress, our thoughts should also allow us to relax enough to perform at our best.

We miss the part where our bodies (senses and physiology) were involved in the thinking that created the stress response. We carry our bodies wherever we go. We use our senses even when we are asleep. Our bodies are our selves - they are the things that create the experience of stress and they can be the things that give us sufficient strength and flexibility to withstand stress and achieve our goals.

Your body works with your mind. If you want to improve the partnership, take a look at eating, exercise and rest. If you're not getting the right stuff in the right amounts, make some changes. If you are managing people who are stressed, consider your influence over their physiology.

No comments: