Hack Your Physiology Pt. 1 – The #1 Key Trick To Increase Performance + Kill Anxiety And Doubt
“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of it’s worries” – Astrid Alauda
Have you ever had a time in your life where you felt like you lacked a certain standard of performance? Have you ever had a moment where you froze up, ears turned bright red, and you felt like you only knew 5 words in the whole English language?
Almost everyone has experienced a situation in which they feel like their brain shuts down due to pressure or anxiety from a important presentation in front of colleagues, a pivotal putt for par on the green, or even talking to someone they think highly of.
The Unknown Component Of Performance
Human beings are still very much programmed like our ancestors. We have a fight/flight response in place for when any sort of threat presents itself. Whilst this can benefit us from say, a bear attack, it can also be a self sabotaging mechanism in less intensive situations.
We usually think of our daily performance, and in turn our results in any activity as being based on our emotions, feelings and thoughts. Whilst this is not necessarily wrong, there is a key underlying component which sets the foundation for these emotions, feelings, and thoughts.
The key component I am talking about is our Physiology.
Our Physiology largely controls our —> Emotions, which impacts our —> Feelings, which shapes our —> Thinking, which controls our —> Behavior, which stimulates our —> Performance (or lack there of) + Results
It is the base layer that everything else is stacked upon. Any incongruency in our physiology will have a ripple effect and can cause us to perform sub par.
The Erratic Or Coherent Heart Rate
The heart is the king of physiological responses, and has a massive influence on the rest of our bodies. Controlling its patterns is a fundamental aspect of mastering your physiology when it comes to performance.
Our heart rates can be classified as “coherent” or “erratic”. A heart rate of 120 with equal peaks and troughs is associated with passion, determination, and focus. Under pressure, one can carry out simple tasks like addition, subtraction, multiplication with the same tenacity as being under less pressure and in more ideal circumstances.
However, the same heart rate of 120, with a more erratic signature characterized by high peaks to low troughs, and vice versa, gives a very different emotional state. The erratic nature of this HR signature leads to anger, anxiety, loss of focus and can even make the simplest of addition and subtraction equations a nightmarish task, and us prone to making embarrassing errors.
The Effect Of A “Distressed Physiology”
Distressed Physiology literally “lobotomizes” us. It shuts down the frontal lobe (used in motor function, problem solving, memory, judgement, impulse control) in very much the same ways our fight or flight response reallocates resources in distress. In a F/F response to a bear attack for example, our bodies recognize that all we need is blood and nutrients to our muscles so we can high tail it out of there as soon as possible.
Re-thinking our belief that the body is the tool of the mind, and realizing that our biology and physiological state sets the standard for our mental state is the key distinction in this article.
The #1 Key To Controlling Your Physiology
The best starting point in controlling your physiology is to start changing something you have conscious control over. The most fundamental and potent conscious control you have over your physiology and in turn your anxiety, stress, performance and results is regulating your breathing.
Just Breathe – Breathing rhythmically, and smoothly keeps our heart rates in a state of coherence, and gives our brain consistent quality fuel for more insightful and clear thinking under pressure. Whilst erratic heart rates (uneven peaks and troughs) produce negative emotions and thus the stress hormone cortisol, coherence heart rates produce emotions that aid performance and actually produce a compound known as DHEA (a banned performance enhancing drug, also known as the elixir of youth and vitality).
High Energy Hearts – The second aspect of breathing is breathing through our chests, and not our bellies or anywhere else in the body. Our hearts surprisingly produce more electromagnetic energy than our brains, and has a very large energetic signature in comparison. What this means is when we focus on breathing through the chest, we involve the heart more which has a larger effect on our brain and thus our physiological response. It is an amplifier for the breathing techniques listed above.
To be put simply, under stressful situations we must train ourselves to
- Breathe smoothly + at the same rhythm
- Breathe through the chest
Doing this will control our emotions which regulate our feelings which in turn controls our thoughts by not shutting off the frontal lobe when under stress. This bypasses the physiological “freezing” mechanisms and lets us do what we need to accomplish in a state of flow.
With practice comes a zen, flow like state even under the most strenuous circumstances.
In Part 2 we will learn how to combine this with Emotional Mastery, which will have you better equipped than 99% of the human population in mastering your physiology.