Monitoring Physiology for Feedback
I used to live thirty to thirty-five minutes away from my workplace. Every morning when I would drive in to work, and I would zone out, thinking, “Oh, the drive’s not bad, there’s usually no traffic.” But, I started measuring my heart rate variability. Athletes will wear a heart rate monitor that connects to an app on their phone. The app tells you your heart rate variability and mostly it is used in the gym. I was monitoring my day to see when that heart rate variability went up and down at different times. I found that reading was a certain heart rate level, which was very relaxed.
I found that my heart went to a different level when I was watching violent detective shows.. I had a heart rate monitor on while I was doing everything. I looked at it one time and it skyrocketed during the end of one of these detective shows. They were having a gunfight for about ten minutes. I was just sitting in a recliner watching this show and my heart rate was out of control during those last ten minutes. Sometimes, I watch Netflix after my wife goes to sleep. One night, there was a car race with Pablo Escobar and some of his friends on the screen. I was watching this and she says, “Is everything okay? You’re breathing so fast!” I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
Back to driving, in our cars, we think, even if it’s not a lot of traffic, it’s not very stressful, driving can have unhealthy physical responses. The numbers on the heart rate monitor don’t lie and certain activities have a negative physical impact on you. I moved to town now and I drive a lot less than I did before. Even a nice, easy drive was having an impact on my heart rate. Take a look at your activities and obtain measurements if you can. Ask yourself, “What are the things that you do every day and is this moving me toward a healthy direction or not?
Without external feedback, we may be engaging in stimulating activities in this modern world that put our body systems into fight or flight. A little elevated nervous system activity can be natural, but several hours a day in front of pressing emails, an hour in the car, an intense workout at the gym, and then a violent evening of television can create an entire day of fight or flight. How does rest and recovery fit into this schedule?