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Episode 30: Swiss 8 Mini Series: Mindfulness

by Shaun Kober
August 24th 2020

Swiss 8 is a proactive mental health model designed to provide the tools required to deliver high-quality content around their 8 pillars of health and wellness, to allow you to be "Better At L... More

Can you just touch on, you already spoke about the four principles or the main principles of Swiss 8? Can you go through the eight principles for us, for the listeners? Yeah so the top four, I mean we call the top four, bottom four. So the top four is fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and sleep. Uh and that we we call those the top four because they are the holistic health lifestyle principles um that we we asked we try and get people to start with. First build a routine around those four principles and then once you're happy and you're comfortable that all that has become habit and it is a routine, then we've got minimalism, discipline, time management and personal growth and they basically life hack kind of principles. Mhm. Mhm. Yo yo what's up guys welcome to today's episode of the live train performed podcast. I'm your host, Sean koba during the introduction, Adrian Sutter of Swiss Eight went through the eight pillars of health and wellness for the Swiss eight model which is presented via an app which allows you to schedule in the most important things of your day and build some structure around the things are important that bring your purpose contentment and fulfillment in today's episode.

We are diving into mindfulness. Now mindfulness is one of those things that gets a little bit of a bad rap along with meditation because people in this day and age look at it as a little bit woo. Um and this is because you know the hippies and the Yogis and things like that took hold of mindfulness and kind of made it their thing. And um you know, I was like this many years ago as well when I looked at that shit and I was like, well that's fucking woo, that's bullshit. Um but now I absolutely see the benefit in it and I'm going to um tell a story today and today's story is going to be a little bit different because I'm going to be going through an audio blog, I've written a blog for one of my mates who is also a veteran, a former Australian army soldier. And I met him when I was doing my yoga course earlier this year in Byron Bay in Australia. And uh this course was run by veterans for veterans essentially because the Australian government essentially gave a partial grant for a number of veterans too be qualified and be able to be taught this style of yoga.

So they could take it back to our networks and be able to use basically yoga as an alternate therapy for PTSD. Um and to help treat anxiety and depression etcetera. So here we are these heavy hitters, predominantly infantry soldiers that have deployed to you know, war torn countries and you know, we're doing this yoga course where were chanting and you know, going through mindfulness and all this type of stuff. So one of the boys has his own business and I wrote an article for anvil td training and development a few months ago. So today's session, I'm going to read off that article. It's going to be an audio blog, but I'm also going to throw in my own points and um thoughts that come up as I go through now, a point to note is that this article that I've written was published on the sixth of april. So for me that was only about two weeks into lockdown. Uh, and it is part two of a two part series called Preservation in Isolation.

So ole link, both the first part and the second part in the show notes, let's get started. Two weeks into our trip to Afghanistan, we had been ambushed. My team leader was shot. We were in a fire fight for our lives and we had to do whatever was necessary to take control of that situation. Just an hour or so later, we were lucky that I didn't take out the rest of our form and sniper team the next day will back out on patrol minus our team leader who had been evacuated the day before. We didn't know of his situation or if we would see him again when a burst of machine gun fire ripped up the ground between my teammate and I literally missing me by inches, fucking hell. This is going to be a long trip. I thought I was the point man for my sniper team. One of my roles was to choose an appropriate route that would negate the very real threat of an ID or an improvised explosive device taking the legs or the life of myself and all my teammates. My worst fear was not that I would get hit, but that I would make a mistake and my mate behind me would take the brunt of the explosion.

This was always in the back of my mind throughout the entire nine month deployment. Now I share this because there was a period of a couple of weeks where I couldn't sleep, you know, we were ambushed, were in firefights, we patched up mates, we put them on helicopters, we didn't know whether they were going to live or die, lose a limb etcetera. And we also had plenty of close calls. It could have dramatically increased our already high number of casualties. If it wasn't for dumb luck. Um, you know, there was a number of times where shit happened, that we were just like, holy fuck man, all we could do was laugh. We literally laughed when we were getting shot at sometimes because there was nothing else that we could do. Um, but anyway, I had, I had trouble dealing with the fact that we didn't know what was around the next corner or that the next step I took could be my last and that literally went through my mind numerous times. Is this the last patrol I'm going to go on, is this the last time I'm going to walk on two legs. Is this the last time I'm going to take my last few breaths, you know? Um, so the danger was real, but so was the fear and the anxiety and my mind would be racing with what if every time I tried to sleep and it was absolutely draining.

I very soon realized that if I didn't sort my mind out, it would ruin me. And ironically increase the chance of making those very same mistakes that I was fretting over now. Here's the secret to how I changed my mindset and got to sleep. I literally just started counting my deep breath every night that I went to bed. Now obviously my mind would drift. Um sometimes I'll be sitting these what if thoughts and you know, what if I make a mistake tomorrow, What if fucking I'll make it shot. What if I lose a leg? What if blah, blah, blah, blah? But I very soon realized that that was not serving me. So what I would do would be just acknowledge those thoughts and not dwell on them and I did my best on, you know, coming back to my breath some nights were harder than others, but building this habit of acknowledging thoughts letting them pass and then re focusing on the breath served me well. Um, and I was able to get to sleep and with time changed my mindset from focusing on what was outside of my control onto what was within my control and you know, how I would potentially react to each one of those unique situations.

And this was an absolute game changer for me this simple change in perception allowed me to stay sharp allowed me to stay focused and it allowed me to kind of prepare for things without dwelling on it too much. Okay this might happen so this is what you'll do. So we kind of looked at I looked at my own S. O. P. Standard operating procedures and simply changing my mindset allowed me to identify any potential threats that might come up but also have a plan to negate those before they came up as well. So it kind of changed my mindset from being reactive to proactive and that simple change in perception allowed me to get to sleep essentially and you know get some much needed rest so that I could could get up the next day and operate and be a good team player and um contribute to the team as the lead scout of the sniper team. And I was also the Combat first data as well. So you know that was that was always a part of the process was if I get hit or if someone gets hit you need to deal with that casualty.

You know, so not only uh if you make a mistake and someone else gets hit, but now you need to deal with that casually right away. And that was always on my mind and that was a big responsibility for me that I had to deal with. And I had to entrust myself in that process. And um you know, give myself the power of the mind to understand that all of the training that I've gone through had prepared me for that point and that I could deal with any situation that came up and um I now know that practice as mindfulness and meditation and I can tell you right now it fucking saved my life. And no doubt that some of the soldiers on my team, I was part of a four man sniper team until the bloke's got shot. So it was my role to give them immediate first day. And that included putting tourniquets on, that included, you know, stacking fucking wounds full of um bandages and that included giving them ivy fluids. And I can proudly say that I've administered I V fluids on a number of occasions on the battlefield and I've never missed. So I can look back on those very definitive couple of weeks and really pinpoint where I did change my mindset and that was through the mindfulness and meditation.

And it's funny because at the time I had no idea what I was doing. It wasn't until years and years later when I started talking to one of my mates who is going to be interviewed on this podcast in a couple of episodes, Tristan Rose from Blind Tiger yoga. So he was the mastermind behind all these veterans getting um this partial grant by the Australian government because he had suffered from PTSD and he used yin yoga as a alternate therapy to help deal with that. And you know, he's helped thousands of people around Australia. Both veterans and first responders go going through that process and dealing with anxiety and depression and PTSD. Now I was talking to him many, many years ago and I told him this story and he kind of stopped me mid sentence and he looked at me and he goes because he asked me like what what what happened, how did you deal with your mindset? And I was like I just started focusing on my breathing and um changed my mindset and didn't dwell on these thoughts and blah blah blah. And he kind of started giggling to himself and he goes, you know, you're meditating, you know, you're practicing mindfulness and I kind of looked at him, I was like what?

And he goes yeah man, mindfulness and meditation is not sitting on a fucking yoga mat, cross legged humming to yourself or chanting or anything like meditation and mindfulness can be whatever you want it to be, you can make it mean whatever you want. And that's the whole point of this episode is to show that one the power of it, but to the many different ways that you can use mindfulness and meditation to basically make yourself better at life before we continue on with the episode and I give these hot tips on how to implement mindfulness slash meditation into your daily practice. We first need to discuss what stresses, okay because stress is an important part of the process and involves the autonomic nervous system. So what is stress? Stress is an important physiological response that is absolutely essential for short term survival. However, if it's left unchecked stress across varying levels of severity can contribute to a number of health concerns associated with the top causes of all cause mortality.

Now let's dive into the role of the autonomic nervous system. The N. S. The N. S. Is a sub branch of the peripheral nervous system which controls 80 90% of our body's physiological processes. Now we don't need to think about this. This happens at a subconscious level. Now the autonomic nervous system is split into three branches. We're going to cover to primarily today because I've already covered one in a previous episode. But the first branch is a sympathetic nervous system which is fight or flight. Okay, you can also throw freeze in there as well. The second branch is the parasympathetic nervous system which is rest and digest. You can also throw breed in there and then the third system is the enteric nervous system or the N. S. Which is the gut brain or gastrointestinal health. Now I have done a full episode on gut health in the Swiss eight mini series I think it was the second episode in the series. So If you're interested in that, go back and listen to that and that's important to note because 80% of the body's immune system lies within the gut.

So if you have a dysfunction of the gut, that's going to cause dysfunction of the immune system, which is going to throw all of your regulatory mechanisms into a bit of a bit of a tailspin and that carries over and that flows on throughout every other system of the body. And there's 11 of these systems. So um if you've got too much stress or up regulation in one area of these systems or one system, then that's going to have a flow on effect to the other systems. And just to give you an example of how important gut health is and you know, the health of the digestive system, our guts ability to break down the foods we ingest into their most basic compounds to fuel our systems. Energy requirements at the cellular level can significantly impact many regulatory mechanisms such as hormone regulation, neurotransmitter health and function, mood and attitude, libido energy levels and performance, ability to recover and so on. So again, if you have a dysfunction in the gut that's going to carry over and affect every other system of the body and I'll link the gut health episode in the show notes the autonomic nervous system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis.

What is homeostasis homeostasis is the tendency of biological systems to maintain internal equilibrium. The bodies equilibrium refers to maintaining relatively constant conditions in the internal environment whilst continuing to respond to changes within or outside the system. This also includes continuous motion adaptation and changes in response to environmental factors. So what we're looking at here is balance. Okay, that is the key word. Now some people explain the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous systems as opposites. I like to refer to them as synergistic. They complement each other depending on our experiences. Now these systems are working at a baseline level to keep the body working. However, our body's response changes when we increase input of one signal over another. So sympathetic nervous system. Our fighter flight is our accelerator and it allows us to get shit done. Our parasympathetic nervous system rest and digest.

On the other hand is our break, our feed and breed system which allows us to re fuel, repair and maintain this meat vehicle that we walk around in. Now think about it like this, you wouldn't approach a roundabout in your car and hit the gas. You use the brake and the accelerator to complement each other. Okay, you push on the gas, you push on the brake and you alternate between the two depending on what's happening in the external environment and this is essentially what the autonomic nervous system does. Sometimes we're accelerating to get out of danger and sometimes we're breaking so that we can rest recover and repair now before we dive into why it's so important to balance the autonomic nervous system. I first want to give an example of what happens, the physiological responses and the physiological cascade that occurs when you push yourself into either a sympathetic state or a parasympathetic state. Because once I give this demonstration and example, it'll make a lot more sense as to why we need to balance this out.

So the sympathetic state is our fight or flight. Okay, now what happens in the fight or flight state is the body thinks or the brain perceives a threat and it thinks it's in danger. So there's a physiological response that occurs and your pupils dilate so that you can see better, You can identify threats and your laser focus, but that's at the expense of situational awareness. What also happens is your heart rate increases, your respiratory rate increases, Your body starts mobilizing energy so that you can essentially fight off a threat or run away from it, your muscles tense up so that you can produce force and either run or fight. Um and also your body starts pushing anything in the digestive system away from that area. And this is where you'll see people that are under massive amounts of threat or they run a marathon or something like that and they end up pissing and shitting themselves and that's because they've pushed so hard into a sympathetic state their body is literally fucking fighting for survival.

So it's getting rid of anything that doesn't need to use. So it can continue mobilizing and utilizing energy um to survive essentially. Now on the other side of the spectrum is our parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest and digest and all of the opposite um responses occur. This is where our dial, sorry, our pupils constrict. Um Our heart rate decreases, our respiratory rate decreases, muscle tone decreases, the body starts pushing blood um mobilizing energy and resources and pushing them back in towards the digestive system. Now the reason this occurs is because your body was under threat. Now the next time food comes in, your body needs to break those foods down into their raw materials and then start pushing those materials, the raw materials, the raw chemical compounds to certain areas of the body that have been stressed out that have been damaged that now need repair so that you can deal with that threat better next time. All right, so this is what makes us bigger stronger, faster, smarter.

Alright, so that's why it's so important to balance out the autonomic nervous system. One is the accelerator which gets shit done, gets us out of trouble and the other is the brake, which allows us to rest repair, recover. Now I'm a former army soldier and I was part of a sniper team and I've played in multiple rugby teams throughout the years. Um So I grew up as an athlete and as a soldier, as a highly functioning um person and as a competitor and when it came to training for me, I was always of the mindset. If I can't put in 100% then I'm not getting anything out of it, I need to hammer myself with everything that I do. And when I was in the army, particularly when I was part of um recon and snipers, some of the best soldiers in the battalion, it was a competition when we do physical training every single morning to start work, let's see who can put themselves deepest in the pain cave, let's see who can work the hardest, let's see who can build the fucking strongest mindset. And of course it built a brilliant mind set and build that mental toughness and resilience. But I remember many times after training I would walk back to my car or walk back to my room on base and I couldn't unlock the dogs.

My fucking arms was shaking so much and you know, the smell of food and the thought of food for hours afterwards made me feel sick. And um that was because I pushed so hard into a sympathetic state, my body was under threat or thought it was under threat and it was under so much stress that it couldn't possibly take in any food to help kick off that reparation recovery process because it was still dealing with what it perceived as a threat. So this is a good point is that we don't make changes, we don't make gains in the gym, we provide the stimulus and we challenge, the system's just enough to get a response so that when we do go into a parasympathetic nervous system state, rest and digest, we do break down our foods now we can start pushing those nutrients to where they're needed to reinforce those systems that have been damaged that have been stressed out, that we actually recover and get back to baseline and then adapt and go above and beyond. And this is a problem that I see all the time, particularly working at Tiger muay thai in Phuket Thailand it's a destination.

Jim people come over to train and you know, they escaped their um their daily life and their daily stresses and distractions and they come to Tiger, it's expensive and they want to train and of course training is good alright. But when they're training 456 times a day, they're essentially essentially replacing one stress with another. They've just replaced the stress that they have their financial stresses at home, their mortgage repayments, their car repayments, their financial issues, you know, their relationship issues, they're snotty little kids etcetera. They basically replaced those stresses with stresses from training and training is good until it becomes not good. And this is the thing stress is dose dependent, but it's also essential for adaptation, But too much stress means that you're not going to recover, you're just going to be spent spinning your wheels. Not enough stress means that you're not really going to have any drive or motivation or anything like that.

So um stress is dose dependent and your ability to adapt is really determined by your ability to recover. So yes you can train hard in the gym to get those gains bro but you need to fucking recover, spend just as much time on recovery so that you can actually recover and adapt above and beyond. Now I will dive a little bit deeper into the what I mean by dose dependent in a moment. But first of all we need to understand that the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system are constantly playing tug of war with your physiological responses in a back and forth battle to maintain homeostasis. So if one side overpowers the other then it's up to the other side to respond in turn to keep the body at balance at homeostasis. Now, if there is one side that is triumphant, the majority of the time it will start showing up in other areas of the body and each person has their own unique balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. But when this normal becomes disrupted, this is when the body and the mind experiences health implications.

For example, too much sympathetic drive for prolonged periods of time can mean an excess of important hormones that are related to stress, which led to things like insomnia, anxiety and depression essentially, your bodies in a constantly highly aroused state perceiving that it's under threat. So think about a soldier who has returned from a theater of war. Okay, individuals who are sympathetic dominant usually have a very active mind to begin with and can easily become overactive, which can make relaxing sleeping or even just sitting still even more difficult. Um and you can tell when you're in a sympathetic state because you're really tuned into, you know, let's say you're laying in bed trying to get to sleep and you fucking hear every noise that's coming up and you start running this. What if scenarios in your head and, you know, you jolt awake at the slightest sound and just little things like that can be a good indication that you're in a highly sympathetic state. Now we'll talk about um these low level stresses that put us into a sympathetic state in a moment, but I want to go into the parasympathetic side first.

Now, parasympathetic dominance, on the other hand, can leave you tired, lethargic with no drive or motivation to do anything. And this is because your body essentially perceives this safety. It thinks that it's safe all the time and it doesn't perceive the need to mobilize energy and regulate hormones to fuel the evolutionary response of seeking food, water and shelter. Um think about the blissed out hippie that that seems to have no care in the world, but also appears to have no direction or sense of purpose with minimal contribution to society. So whilst I don't have any evidence or a reference to link, it is also my opinion than overly active parasympathetic system could also contribute to insomnia, anxiety, depression, and potentially PTSD. Now, obviously both of these states are at either end of the spectrum and there's a lot of gray area in the middle. Now here's the thing, neither of them are inherently wrong, they're both important for us to adapt and survive.

Problems arise. However, when you spend too long in one state, the more the pendulum swings in one direction, the more it's going to swing back in the other direction. And I see this all the time as the head strength and conditioning coach at Tiger muay thai, you know, it's a destination jim, we get people from all over the world coming over to train and people get away from their lives and they come over to give themselves kick up the arse to get themselves moving in the right direction to change our life, whatever, trained for a fight. Um And you know, they're training 3456 times a day sometimes and I always say to people like if you're here for a week, get after it, train hard, enjoy your time, okay? But if you're here for two weeks, maybe just ease into it. Okay? First week, um you might do two sessions a day, then the second week do three sessions a day. It was particularly if you haven't been training that much at home, but you know, if you're here for a month, you need to manage your workload because if you're doing four sessions a day, five sessions a day, there's 4-5 hours training a day, you're potentially training up to 20, hours every single week.

And you're basically adding stress, your body training is a stress. And if you're putting your body under that much stress, you know, the first, at the end of the first week, you're gonna be sore at the end of the second week, you're not sore anymore. But now you're tired, you need to sleep between your training sessions and um you've lost your appetite and then by week three your joints start hurting, you've got a scratchy throat, you've got a runny nose and then by by the time week four rolls around, you know, you're really fucking tired, you're really lethargic and then you're pushing through thinking that training is good for you and all of a sudden you're bedridden because you've got gastro or food poisoning or something like that and this is simply because you've put your body into so much of a sympathetic state that it, you know, it essentially needs to swing back the other way and it goes, fuck you, I'm going to put you on a parasympathetic state. Now you you put me under so much stress that, you know, my body can't handle it anymore. So I'm gonna put you into parasympathetic state. So now I'm going to force you to stay in bed, I'm going to force you to rest, I'm going to force you to relax, I'm going to force you to recover.

Um And that is simply the pendulum swinging too far in one direction and then having to swing hard in the other direction. So mindfulness is simply paying attention to where you're at right now and then adjusting your day, adjusting your training, managing your stress, um you know, adjusting your food intake, eating better food when you're stressed out, making sure you're staying hydrated, you're getting better quality sleep etcetera, etcetera. And I'll talk a little bit more about this to round out the episode. But mindfulness is simply paying attention to what's going on with your body because our body is constantly giving us signs and signals of what's happening and how much stress it's under and how it can adapt to what's happening in our life, all of this external stimulus that's coming in via our feedback receptors, that's telling our body to adjust our heart rate, to adjust our respiratory rate, to adjust our digestive system to adjust our hormones and how our new neurotransmitters are functioning and, you know, the recovery processes and fucking everything that's happening behind the scenes that you don't even think of.

So managing your stress levels and balancing the autonomic nervous system is super important for living your best life. Now, let's discuss how the autonomic nervous system works and this constant tug of war, the seesaw, um this balancing act between the sympathetic state and the parasympathetic state. Okay, let's think about this from an evolutionary standpoint, you're walking through the jungle. A line comes out okay? You see here potentially smell. Okay and your centers, those feedback feedback receptors tell your body what's going on in your external environment and then it creates this physiological response which essentially says fucking danger. All right, so all of those processes occur that I spoke about before pupils dilate. You can see better. Um Heart rate increases respiratory rate increases, muscle tone increases, et cetera, et cetera. Now you either run away from that line or you fight it off. Okay. In some cases when that response is really high, you might freeze.

Okay, so this is the fight flight or freeze. And this is kind of touching on the dose dependency, which I'll dive dive into a little bit more detail in a moment. But anyway, we get away from that lion, we get back to our cave and uh what happens now is our body goes alright, we're safe. Let's chill out. Let's reverse those processes. You know, the pupils constrict, the heart rate decreases respiratory rate decreases muscle tone decreases body starts mobilizing energy, fuel resources back into the digestive system so that now when we drink water, were able to rehydrate better. Now when we eat food, our body breaks those compounds down and start pushing them to the systems that were stressed out so that we essentially can make ourselves bigger, stronger, faster, smarter so that we can survive and get away from that lion um better and deal with that situation better next time. So there's a very simple example of how the parasympathetic and sympathetic states work.

Now let's dive into the dose dependency. Now. For the most part, nobody that I know is going to ever encounter a line in their life that is trying to make them lunch. So let's relate this to real life scenarios. Let's say you're driving along at 100 km an hour on the highway and some asshole pulls out in front of you and for whatever reason due to good reactions or good luck or whatever, you swerve and you miss that car. You don't have an accident. Now, your body is going to go into a stress response, It's going to up regulate hormone production predominantly adrenaline and cortisol. And all of those different hormones that are associated with stress. Now, five minutes later, you might be calm and your heartbeat is decrease your respiratory rates decreased etcetera, etcetera. And you go, oh fuck, that was lucky, I'm glad that I missed that car. And I didn't have an accident, I'm still alive. Cool! Let's celebrate life. Other people, on the other hand, look at that as a traumatic event.

And you know they're sympathetic drive. They stay in that state for a long period of time and they start reflecting on their life and they're like fuck I was so close to dying then um life is so precious, blah blah blah blah. And they see that as a traumatic events of their body holds onto that memory and it creates this hormonal response. And then they start thinking these what ifs in their mind and they stay in that um elevated state that elevated sympathetic state or that stress state for long periods of time. And this is important to note is that the same event can cause different responses with different people. A very simple example of this is I love scuba diving and for me it puts me into a parasympathetic state because it chills me out. I just focus on my breath. I just focus on my immediate environment and I'm not worried about any of the other distractions that would normally um take my attention um when I'm on the surface.

So for me I love diving, I love being in that state. But for other people it might put them into a sympathetic state. They might get stressed out and feel out of control when they're 30 m underwater breathing through a tube. And that's the whole point is driving the sympathetic state and the parasympathetic state. It's not black and white, everyone has different responses to different things. Now I'll circle back to this at the end of the episode because at the end of the day all of these things are tools okay? And we need to understand what tool does what for us at a particular time in our lives. And sometimes you know riding a motorbike might bring you into a parasympathetic state where you're in a bit of a flow state where you just focus on what's going on and you know your attention is right there and then. But if you've had an accident on a motorbike or something like that, your experience riding a motorbike in the future has changed and that could potentially push you into a sympathetic state or a stress state.

So understanding um these different tools and um the different responses that they create is absolutely essential in being able to apply the right tool at the appropriate time to get the to elicit the response that you're looking for. So let's circle back to driving your car Instead of doing 100 km an hour. Let's say you're driving along and you're only doing 50 km an hour. Okay some arsehole pulls out in front of you, the response is not quite going to be as high because the dose is not as high, it's not as much of a threat, it's not as dangerous. Okay now let's scale that down again, you're driving along at 10 km, an hour. Some arsehole pulls out in front of you, okay again the dose is not that high, the danger is not as high so the response is not as high and this is very important to understand because you know some people might have a response at a 10 because they're so heightened throughout the rest of their day.

If someone's driving along at 10 km now and someone pulls out in front of them, they fucking flip out because they've got all these other stresses and they don't know how to manage that and that might be the one thing that pushes them over the edge. However if someone else has their stress manage, they sleep well, they train, they've got a good mindset, they've got good physical and mental health, Someone's driving along, they're doing 100 km now, someone pulls out in front of them, okay they're able to deal with that situation very easily, get back to homeostasis and not dwell on it because they've got their mindset in order. They've got their physical and mental health in order, they've got their stress management in order. They don't have all of these other underlying stresses throughout the rest of their life. So that big stress they are able to deal with very quickly and get back to homeostasis and that brings me to my next point okay the difference between acute stress and chronic stress, What is acute stress acute stress is driving along 100 km.

Now someone pulls out in front of you, what is chronic stress that is driving along at 10 km an hour? Someone pulls out in front of you every 30 minutes for a whole day. That's the difference between the two. Okay, acute stress is essential for survival, This is your accelerator, this is this physiological response that gets you out of danger and get shit done. Okay, chronic stress is this underlying low level stresses that add up throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the month, throughout the year, throughout your life that aren't dealt with and are constantly there that are causing these inflammatory responses and um immune responses. And in my opinion this can contribute to anxiety because your body is constantly perceiving a threat. It constantly think that there's a threat around. So it's maintaining a low level of alertness where you know, you're picking up on things and you're kind of a little bit jittery and you can't really figure out what's going on and this is essentially your body perceiving that there's a threat and this is a good point where we don't know the difference between a real threat and perceived threat.

Okay, lying coming out of the jungle, that's a real threat, A perceived threat might be, you know, thinking that your partner is cheating on you, you're going to have a very similar response. Okay, obviously it's going to be dose dependent. Um So we don't know the difference between the two, the physiological response is the same. If you wake up in the morning, you sleep through your alarm, you're driving to work, you get caught behind some asshole who's going slow in the fast lane, You catch every red light the boss is calling you et cetera et cetera. That's all stressed, that's adding up. Okay now if you're not dealing with those stresses then that's going to build up over time and can potentially cause health implications and might show up in other areas of the body and might progress into anxiety and depression etcetera. So very important to stay on top of this stuff and that is what mindfulness is. So how do we balance our autonomic nervous system? First of all we must bring awareness to the things that cause us stress and the things that allow us to relax.

So what I recommend doing is Taking a sheet of paper and drawing two columns on the left column is stress. That's our sympathetic side. On the right column is relax, that's our parasympathetic side. Now add in all of the things on the left hand side. Under the stress column that bring you stress, it might be your Children, it might be finances, relationship, um career education, whatever. It doesn't really matter what it is then at a numerical value to it. So your finances might be a six, your relationship might be a three, your career might be whatever. Okay, add those numbers up and telling them at the bottom. There's your total. Then on the right column there's your relax column right in the things that allow you to relax, Okay, reading scuba diving massages, sauna, ice bath, whatever. It doesn't really matter what it is. Okay then put a numerical value there.

What are the things that allow you to relax? Total it up at the bottom of the page and have a look at the difference between left and right. Okay. For the most part, people are going to find that their stress state is way higher than their relaxed state. And this is where we simply start looking at balancing it out and we look at the things that allow us to relax and allow us to drive that parasympathetic state and allow us to rest recovery repair. Okay? And that is it. It is literally just about bringing awareness to it and then putting in more things that allow you to chill out. Okay now here's the other side of the coin. I spoke earlier about the blissed out hippie that does fuck all and doesn't contribute to society. Okay, now that person probably needs more stress in their life, okay, Because stress is essential for adaptation, stress is essential for change, but if there's a massive imbalance and there's too much stress and not enough relax, that's when problems start occurring.

So let's go back to the examples that I gave earlier. The soldier that's recently returned from war, he likely needs more relax. Things like meditation, mindfulness, massage, swimming, stretching, you install yoga, sitting on the beach, watching the sunrise with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. It doesn't really matter what it is. What matters is the impact that it has on you. Okay. The hippie likely needs more stress motivators, things like exercising, learning a new skill or movement, moving away from established daily patterns, yang style yoga and just generally getting out of the comfort zone and again, it doesn't really matter what it is, it's more about the impact that it has on you. So you need to find what these tools are to be applied at the appropriate time. So once you have a basic understanding of how the autonomic nervous system works, it's much easier to plan your day and adjust on the fly, depending on what happens in your environment. So if I have a really good day and everything's going well, flows smoothly and I've had limited stress, then I'm going to absolutely get after it in the gym.

However, if I'm constantly on the back foot, I'm putting out fires all day, I'm probably going to be better suited to get some light movement because movement makes me feel good or potentially go and get a massage or hit a yin stole yoga class or take a long walk on the beach and watch the sunset or something like that. Now, most people think about a D load in terms of training, we can actually use d loads to maintain equilibrium. So consider d loading as a part of your day to day and week to week that is simply understanding what sets off your sympathetic nervous system and that stress response and then minimizing that stimulus or adapt your coping strategies to be able to get back to homeostasis now with all the crazy shit that's going on the world right now, it's easy to get caught up in all the conspiracy theories and concern yourself with things that are outside of your influence. I don't watch news or listen to the radio and I have one source on the web that I check in with each day just to stay up to date with what's happening in the current climate and that's because you know, there's so many things that are outside of my control and if I'm focusing on the things that are outside of my control, then it means that I'm not focusing on the things that are within my control and for me, I get up every morning and I do some meditation, I do some mindfulness work before I go to bed.

Okay, so what I'm doing here is simply bringing my thoughts within and focusing on myself what I can see what I can hear what I can feel and being present in the moment without being distracted. Okay, and if I can do that in a controlled environment, it makes it so much easier to do it in an uncontrolled environment. There's a million and one different ways to work through some mindfulness and meditation based work. But I'm going to round out the episode by explaining how I use um a daily breathwork practice and I implement that into my schedule. Now, first thing in the morning as part of my morning routine, I might do some meditation on my balcony while I watch the sunrise. Um and before I read or another one of my morning routines is going for a swim in my pool and then sitting in the sauna and going through some breath work. It doesn't really matter what it is, but how I do this is I simply close my eyes and I start my stopwatch. I breathe deeply and I control my breath to a rough cadence and I count my breaths.

I pay attention to um you know, the wind on my skin, um the heat, the basically all of the feedback that my body has given me about where I am right now. Now I pay attention to my breath. I pay attention to my thoughts and as the mind drifts, I acknowledge the thoughts, let them pass and then move back to the breath Depending on the day and what I have planned. I may take anywhere between 20-50 breaths. Now I've built up to this. You might start with 10 breaths, do that every day for a week. Once you can do that, then go 15 breaths so on so forth. Okay, but I use 20-50 breaths. If I've got longer in my morning before I need to get started, then I might take 50 breaths. Now. If I take 50 breaths, for example, I'm Looking at how long those breaths take me and it takes me roughly 12 minutes now, if I'm in a sympathetic dominant state and I'm under stress, that might take me 9-10 minutes to get through.

But if I'm in a parasympathetic state, then It might take me 14 to 15 minutes to get through. So I'm simply using those numbers to pay attention to where I'm at at the time. Um but I also use heart rate variability, which I test every morning and I also use my waking heart rate and waking blood pressure. Now I use all of this data to tell me how much stress my body is under and how much stress I can handle for that day that also shapes what I'm doing for the day. Training wise, nutrition wise, um, etcetera. Now I do go into a lot more detail on those basic health markers in one of the first episodes of the live transform podcast. So I'll have that episode linked in the show notes. If I do forget to do that head back to, I think it's episode three, Progress tracking markers, tracking based health, basic health markers and listen to that episode. That's it for me today guys.

Hopefully you've got a lot out of this episode and come back next week. We are going through minimalism piece, The Western world is in the middle of a mental health crisis and our veterans have taken action. Swiss. Its team of combat veterans have built a proactive mental health program that is delivered through a mobile app. The app offers users programs in eight categories of health and lifestyle, all proven to reduce anxiety and depression. This holistic model forms your daily routine, aiding you to build structure, improve discipline and take ownership of your life. Once these habits are formed, the app will teach you new skills, skills that can form identity purpose and encourage physical interaction to rebuild your tribe and reduce isolation.

Episode 30: Swiss 8 Mini Series: Mindfulness
Episode 30: Swiss 8 Mini Series: Mindfulness
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