Notes From the Field of
Human Performance & Stress Resilience
Most mornings, you will find me in the ocean off the coast of Southern California.
I was born and raised in Southern California and like most people living along the coast, I spent my childhood and youth in the water body-surfing, boogie-boarding, surfing, swimming, you name it. I went through junior lifeguards, played water polo, was on the swim team, and even created training programs in the water.
Having lived in more places than I care to count, one thing has always remained true: I feel most at home in or near the ocean.
Water has a calming effect on the body – it changes our perception of gravity and creates compression that can help muscle recovery and circulation. Have you ever experienced a sensory deprivation float tank? Or been in a hyperbaric chamber (although this uses pressure, the pressure mimics what water does)?
Recently, I had the opportunity to bring one of my high-profile / high-stress clients (the two seem to go hand-in-hand) through some water training for the first time. It was a profound experience for him and probably one of the best first sessions I have had in a while.
His “ah-ha” moment sounded something like this:
When I am about to panic underwater, if I relax, I can get through the exercise
So… what I am getting out of this is that I can apply this breathing stuff to help me relax by using it throughout my day
and I can do this when shit’s hitting the fan, and I should expect the same thing.
That is precisely the point.
However, it’s not always easy to recall what to do and implement in a “crisis.”
Just like I’ve trained countless repetitions to perfect the skill of an Olympic lift, or similarly, a professional athlete has repeated the same movements thousands of times over for it to become second nature (take the swing of a pro golfer, look at how a pro fighter moves, or any Olympic athlete), we need to train our ability to respond as opposed to RE-ACT in the same capacity. After all, what are we training for?
I write re-act to show you that it is a re-action of a previously learned behavior. Although we all have this tendency, myself included, I know these re-actions rarely benefit me.
Where does this behavior come from? – This is a deep seated process that I help the athlete/client identify. It is a lot easier to write or speak about it than it is to have the desire to grow from it. The simplicity of this process is called exposure; however, the process is not so simple for most of us.
For those willing, we work through this deeper process (practice), making the unconscious conscious… and you’re probably not going to be surprised, but it starts with your breathing.
Ready when you are,
Do this assessment every day for a week at the same time or throughout your day, and see if you can connect the changes.