Peace in your mind, freedom in your soul, alive in your body.
We chase our dreams so hard and never want to fail for our friends and teammates. So much so that, at times, we exceed what our body should handle.
Should Handle vs. Can Handle
Our bodies are made up of millions of organisms all working together to survive. They can be pushed and with smart pushes our body adapts, gets stronger, and wiser. Just as you can wear down anything, your body can only stretch for so long until it begins to break and under perform without time to adapt and recover. Further, if we push it too far we can create forever damage.
An analogy — would you rather build speed and see success for decades along a gradual upward curve across a 100 years, or would you rather spike up and enjoy a life for 40 years? Both paths are possible for you, if you aren’t mindful of how your body adapts and gets strong.
Mental strain accumulates and results from stress in our lives, and we can thrive through mindful awareness and intentional behaviors.
To adapt is to be alive, to adapt and be human is once in a lifetime chance
Through life, training, and our mental growth we are trying to give the body a specific stress to create the response we want… that response is growth in capacity, strength, capability, and empathetic skills.
As we apply these stresses (or they are presented to us in life), our body reacts and adapts.
Understanding Stress — your body as a bank account
Looking at this more… let’s imagine your body as full bank account, you feel good and go begin your day.
In the morning you have an enjoyable morning with your family, daughter, or just a couple great moments with strangers headed to the office. (+ to bank account, as this empathetic time and low stress allows you to add deposits)
The office work you crush — lots of intense meetings, some hard deadlines, plenty of emotion, ups and downs. (- to bank account, as this stress is straining your central nervous system heavily)
To the gym… hit a bunch of 85% or greater Dead lifts. (- to bank account, stress is stress)
Emergency work calls — life happens and so now you are on the phone for 2–3 hours with Australia (- to bank account)
At the end of this day you had 3 withdrawals and 1 deposit, not a good management practice for ourselves.
You see, the simple truth is that — stress is stress. Whether training, mental, or emotional it impacts your “bank account”. This accumulates and you can quickly get into default with your own bank account, or run a surplus and be capable to giving your energy and heart to other’s in need. To be generous, we must also personally be healthy.
To live in a deficit in our stress bank account can lead to PHYSICAL health problems, such as inflammation, chronic disease, obesity, shortened lifespan, and more.
Stress is good, if smartly managed
You get stronger by layering on stress and through training that builds up the challenge. You have seen it often, you begin hiking up a trail on day one, and by day 30 that same trail feels like a far simpler trail. The trail didn’t change, you did. Same goes for our performance and impact at work — the greater the challenges the better we can handle bigger and complex ones. Unless we toss ourselves too early in a big pool, or we are so exhausted we can’t perform at our level.
How do you increase the size of your account?
By increasing your work capacity over time, and that means recovery practices and periodization.
Mental health practices to achieve success
We need to be as intentional about how we recover and heal from our passions and pursuits, as much we do on the work we put in daily to succeed. Success and rewards require both hard work and recovery. The natural cycle our body requires to adapt, recover, and prepare to go again is very well understood.
Go hard, nothing is stopping you. Hustle and grind out where and when you need, but be as vigilant on the recovery element. It is here, in this magic window of time, where your body releases growth hormones, cleans out the trauma from the body, and you actually get stronger and smarter.
Wouldn’t we all want to get stronger and smarter, with the off benefit of living longer and disease free?
To achieve that consider these three areas of focus. Adopt these practices, change them to fit you, and then see how much happier and successful you become.
Test, tinker, measure, and adapt. The life of me.
Peace in your mind
Your mind is brilliant both asleep and awake. To see personal gains try the following to quiet a busy mind:
- Sleep 8 hours minimum
- At night, write down everything on your mind — todo, concerns, projects, what you want to achieve tomorrow, just get it out of your head
- In the morning write 3 things you are grateful for that day
- In the evening write 3 things that were amazing for that day (yes, amazing, go ahead)
- Spend 5–10 minutes meditating, or just do 30 long breaths of 6 seconds in and 6 seconds out
- Go do EASY Yoga (not hot, power, swinging over fire pits yoga)
- Sleep, seriously that important, less than 7:30 basically has your skills = drunk driver
Quieting the mind allows space for more thoughts, deeper thinking, and allows the body to relax properly. We aren’t forgetting these concerns and priorities, but simply transferring them in a manner that allows us to recover and be our best self tomorrow.
Freedom in your soul
Being empathetic is being patient and kind to ourselves and to others. First ourselves, as we must clear the poison and negativity out of our minds. By finding joy as our selves, literally celebrating that we are good people and have good intentions.
There are many thoughts on freeing our soul of shackles, and I share these below:
- Remove negative voices in your mind, replace them with supreme confidence (journaling helps and visualizing is a method I have discovered from Olympic athletes)
- Be empathetic of other situations — by not judging their actions (we don’t know what they are dealing with in life)
- Surround yourself with people that lift you up
- Remove / reduce your time with people who are negative or have habits that do not align with your core beliefs
- Read Seneca and stoicism, and then explore beyond
- Help someone daily, small or big it doesn’t matter
- Smile on the inside
- Look in the mirror and tell that fool you love them
- Give real hugs
- Appreciate and recognize you have this moment, and that is a reason to celebrate
Our souls need love, space, and permission to feel. The more you can practice and care for yourself and others, the greater you will be able to feel and give to yourself and the world.
Alive in your body
You body is amazing, let it be so. If you are not physically training — start. Play games, and allow your body to move. That is the secret to health, a moving body that utilizes the DNA you were gifted with in this world.
To be alive in our bodies though, we also need to respect that stress accumulates and our body takes the toll.
STRESS = Physical stress (training, sports) + mental stress (work, family, $)
So, your body can be fully wore down and needing a reset due to mental stress, just as easily from physical stress. In fact, my background of training hundreds of athletes has proven that cycling rest to reflect life events is AS important as how they perform in their physical training.
Here are habits to help those who are dealing with mental stress:
- Sleep — your body releases growth hormones when you sleep, they are free and your body wants to release them
- Go run, hike, walk, swim in a body of water, or workout in a class (if you aren’t physically working out 4x a week, you are missing out)
- Go DO. Fly a kite, paddle board, learn to wakeboard, play frisbee with your kids, anything … do physical fun things you did as a kid. why not!
Here are habits to help those who are physically active and have mental stress:
- Take a rest day from heavy training, literally a zero physical activity day
- Take a half day off and use it to book something fun on your calendar
- Take a full rest day from the gym
- Book an AirBnB in a mountain cabin on a lake for $70 and just get out of your space for 24 hours
- Sleep, seriously that important, less than 7:30 basically has your skills = drunk driver
To see what is really giving you success and results, write down your complaints and how you feel in a journal. Then, as you begin these practices, see how you are progressing. If you are trending in a happier, healthier, less achy direction — KEEP GOING!
You deserve it
Here is your permission to go forward to make the time to recover, heal, grow, get strong, be more loving, and have the happiest life possible. Take the time, be selfish and then be selfless. Start with 15 minutes a day and grow these habits, it is your life and your one chance.
Love you all.
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I am a father, study of human behavior, strategist, cybersecurity veteran, and a coach and mentor on a journey to give more than I receive everyday. I lead teams globally, build products, and daily an executive for a leading company where I serve the largest companies in the world using the largest cloud deployments in the world impacting the financial services, healthcare, and fintech industries. I provide these publications and content through my media agency to deliver insights and advantages. Mindset, mental strength, mentorship, personal improvement, health, fitness, and humanist ideas are drawn from personal research and practice. Everything read and heard is my original works and my own perspective. All rights reserved for noted authors and sources. I produce research and strategy, as well as provide advisory services that include inquiries, briefings, consulting projects, and presentations on published findings as well as bespoke speaking engagements where I often keynote at conferences, seminars, and roundtables annually.