Steve Coveys second habit is “Begin with the end in mind” – this means every…
Is Your Busy Mind Affecting Your Health?
As Small Business owners it can be very hard to switch off as we are indeed our business. It’s a fact that where we go, it goes, and rightly so as it’s our passion, our baby, our livelihood.
There is a difference however between bringing it along for the ride and letting it take the wheel. Of course closing the doors at 5pm and thinking no more about it until 9am the next day is an absurd notion, but creating some non-negotiable boundaries so that you can get some mental separation is essential if you want to perform at your best both physically and mentally for the long term.
In my experience, understanding why we need to do something (and the implications if we don’t) is key to building new habits and making them stick. So in this article I’m going to give you an overview of how never giving your mind a break could actually be affecting your health and subsequently your performance.
Let’s start by taking it right back to basics, because ultimately although our bodies are extremely complex, the program on which they run is still very simple. You see, the world around us has evolved at an unbelievable rate but internally we still operate as if we were back in the prehistoric era, so essentially all our bodies care about is survival and reproducing.
What stress does to the body
Back in the day, a threat to this would have been a woolly mammoth trying to hunt you down or a rival tribe attacking your territory, whereas now the threats are much more passive and come more in the form of worrying about meeting deadlines or what to do for the next marketing campaign. To the body however, a threat is a threat, so it responds by activating processes and releasing hormones to protect you and keep you safe until the danger has passed.
The initial response is to release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to help you either stand and fight or run away. In a nutshell, what these hormones do is produce and convert fuel for the muscles to enable you to react with speed and strength, and also store energy to ensure you will be sustained throughout the danger period.
Of course, if all we’re doing is sitting at our desk and thinking over and over, extra fuel is the last thing we need so as a result we end up with excess in our bodies which has nothing to do but just sit there and hold tight. With the constant thinking and ‘stressing’ that we do nowadays this is a continual process so the body is always in this state of readiness, even though it doesn’t actually have anything to be ready for.
So what does that mean for your health and performance?
Well eventually the glands that release these hormones will become tired and overworked, leaving you with low or erratic energy levels, feeling tired and wired at completely the wrong times. This naturally will then affect sleep – if the body thinks you’re in danger it wants to keep you on your guard, so will make it difficult for you to fall asleep and then wake you up throughout the night to make sure you’re ready for whatever is coming your way. Obviously this then depletes the energy stores even further and effects our body’s ability to restore itself (which naturally occurs during sleep) and inhibits our ability to perform at our best and make good decisions during the day.
With excess cortisol in the body it is also very common to gain weight or struggle to shift it, particularly around the mid-section, as it wants to hold on to the energy until you’re safe. This then also screws with the hormones that control your hunger and fat storage, further complicating the situation. When we have excess fat in this area it puts us at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the major cause of death in Australia and kills one Australian every 12 minutes. Enough said.
As mentioned, the main priority of the body when presented with a threat is to keep you safe, so at this time it shuts down any systems that are not essential for your survival. Digestion and reproduction are the two main culprits here, so often you will experience irregular bowel movements, unexplained bloating and for the ladies irregular or painful periods and PMS.
Subsequently this leaves you with unnecessary toxins and more hormones floating around in the body, which again affects energy, mood, concentration and the general normal functioning of your body, keeping you stuck in this perpetual cycle of sub-optimum health and performance.
So what can you do about it?
Stay tuned for my next article to find out! But in the meantime, start to become aware of what’s going on in your body, and notice how you feel at different times in relation to what’s going on around you.
We are of course all different so by knowing your own body and understanding it’s responses and patterns you can learn how to get the most out of it and yourself at any given time. As we all know when you feel better you perform better, so this is absolutely essential if you truly want to reach those ultimate goals – and enjoy the ride.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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