Maintain your IZOF to save your ‘apps’

| October 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

art of phone surrounded by apps

Eric Schrager and Fernando Lopez
Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness

 

Have you ever had too many apps running on your phone, or had the brightness turned all the way up and it kills the battery?

It isn’t fun when it’s 6 p.m. and your phone is dead and you can’t play Candy Crush!

Neither is being physically and mentally drained after a hard day’s work.

We know that if we have too many apps open or keep the screen too bright, our phones won’t function for long. We’ve learned to turn the brightness down and fully close the apps we don’t use, but can we say we do the same with our minds and bodies?

If you have too many thoughts, or projects you’re working on, it’s like having too many apps open. Your brain tries its best to work though all of them but is soon burned out.

The same goes when you are focused on a single task. The longer you focus at a very high level, the more exhausted you’ll feel after it’s done.

Just think of the last test you took. If you really focused, you probably felt tired afterward. In order to combat draining our energy too much, we need to treat ourselves like we treat our phones.

This month’s resilience focus, energy management, teaches a skill that’s portable, simple and lets us close down those unnecessary thoughts or worries and take quick recovery time-outs to charge back up.

Energy management is a self-regulation process aimed at our physical, mental and emotional energy states. The better you can manage your energy, the higher your chance of performing optimally.

Think about your performances, how do you perform when you have little energy activation or too much energy activation?

Everyone has a “sweet spot” of energy activation for optimal performance, known as the Individual Zone of Optimal Functioning (IZOF). Enhanced control and conservation over our energy activation will help maintain our IZOF before, during and after our performance.

One strategy to maintain IZOF is deliberate breathing. Deliberate breathing increases the body’s energy efficiency by balancing the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) branches of our autonomic nervous system. Regular practice of deliberate breathing also increases heart rate variability, shown to reduce risk for stress-related illnesses; increases physical, mental and emotional stability; improves cognitive abilities and mental clarity; enhances creativity; and boosts immune system functioning.

Deliberate breathing uses rhythmic breathing from the diaphragm, thought control through focusing on one word (“focus” or “calm,” for examples) or image, and positive emotions like gratitude and appreciation.

Before a performance, two or three deliberate breaths can build concentration, help maintain composure, increase precision, and enhance memory and recall. When it is time to recover after the long day or week, deliberately breathing for 5-10 minutes can help speed the recovery process and facilitate falling asleep.

The next time you feel drained, take some deliberate breaths to close down those apps!

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