I’d like to introduce a concept that is important for every human being—the concept of health optimization. Of course, we would all want our health to be optimized. We all want to be healthy. Everyone believes they understand what good health can provide, such as a longer lifespan, having more energy, and generally feeling better.
The truth is, there isn’t exactly “positive” and “negative” stress; there are just events or circumstances that challenge us. These circumstances can create mental, emotional, or physical responses. Determining if a given stressor is a negative or positive experience is really done by us. We’re the ones who assign a value judgment to particular forms of stress.
I want to share with you that my study of stress and emotional health is not just an academic one. While I do study neuroscience, psychology, human behavior, cognitive behavioral therapies, mindfulness, and many other areas of understanding about our mind, body, and emotions, I am also a human being who has gone through many experiences in which I’ve had to deal with stress myself.
Let me introduce you to Jan O’Hara who is a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner at Vickery Family Medicine and is also the owner of Asheville Childbirth Education where she teaches birthing classes and offers services such as midwifery. Jan enjoys educating women about the incredible experience of childbirth and the female body.
If you asked me what are two of the biggest drivers of most of the chronic diseases and symptoms that are affecting my patients, I would tell you chronic stress and poor nutrition. I’ve already written many resources about nutrition, and how to create an approach to nutrition that supports our best health. Today, I want to spend some time on the topic of stress.
We’ve emphasized through this entire series that we must treat our body and mind according to their designs, and we’ve discussed a very simplistic version of what that means. We’ve discussed how, like a car, our body must be given the right information and the right care to function well for us, and that if provided the right information, the body is well designed to thrive, and to feel good, and to experience health and longevity.
In order for your body to perform well for you, it needs the right information. You want to express the best and most comprehensive version of yourself. This is based on being able to genetically express the best version of you. In order to do this, you have to give your body the right information and minimize the wrong information.
Our next foundational principle is the sprint. I’ve already stated that you don’t actually have to sprint. This is any form of movement that elevates your heart rate and your perceived sense of exertion.
You essentially increase the exertional output of that activity to where you’re working at your maximum capacity. You do this for a defined period of time, and then you rest for a short window of time. Then you repeat.
Your mind is designed to take in all the information that your body is experiencing. This information comes in the form of the foods you eat, your environment, your social relationships, your movement patterns, your sleep, stress, emotional states, and many other influencers. All of this information is processed, and then your mind directs your responses to this. It does this by creating experiences that you feel, as well as sending signals to your body for how it should function.