The world is becoming a very fast paced environment. With each step of increased travel velocity, the world has become more interconnected than ever. With the advent of the internet and pipeline speed that velocity has become almost infinite in nature. It seems like a Niagara amount of information, data and connectivity are swirling around us every moment of every day. With each passing day, it becomes more difficult for us to maintain our balance. Without balance, bad things happen.
Over the last couple of blog posts (Balancing Act and High Wire), I’ve introduced that Balance is the key ingredient of great decision-making, health, and happiness (human needs). Today let’s explore Stress and Health.
The biggest issue in dealing with stress is founded in the ancient Serenity Prayer:
- God grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change,
- the COURAGE to change the things I can,
- and the WISDOM to know the difference.
It’s the wisdom to know the difference that contains the real power of the Serenity Prayer. In their book “Performing under Pressure – The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most” Hendrie Weisinger, J. P. Pawliw-Fry do a great job of helping us distinguish between pressure and stress. (See the TLC Short Book Reviews)
Stress refers to the situation of too many demands and not enough resources to meet them: Time, money, energy, etc. In a stressful situation, reduction is the goal.
Pressure is when you perceive that something at stake is dependent on the outcome of your performance and there are good and bad consequences. In a pressure moment, success is the goal.
It’s when we don’t balance these two and assume that everything is stressful that we begin to fail in performance and health. Knowing the difference between stress and pressure (wisdom) has a tremendous impact on our health.
I’m going to toss this topic into the Stress category because I see them as interconnected in our work lives. Because of the stress, or by turning even pressure situations into stressful ones, it seems we begin to lose our work-life balance.
Nigel Marsh, author of several books on developing a good work-life balance says “Work-Life Balance is easy when you have no work!” Nigel says it’s too simplistic and destructive to think that it’s simply work vs life. Life is made up of many aspects:
- Significant Other/Romance
- Fun & Recreation
- Personal Growth
- Physical Environment
It’s when we make the small investments in the right places at the right time that our life feels balanced. Allowing our lives to get out of balance and sacrificing one or more of these areas leads to poor health and a shortening of life.
Balance, Balance, Balance.
Microsleep is defined as a period of mere seconds when
- Eyelids will partially or fully close
- The brain becomes oblivious to all channels of perception including visual
- There is no awareness of any event that occurs during a microsleep
The main victim of microsleeps is concentration. It’s impossible to concentrate when your brain is using microsleeps to recover from sleep deprivation. How much deprivation causes these microsleeps?
- One night of missed sleep (pulling an all-nighter) causes a 400% increase in microsleeps.
- Four hours sleep per night for six nights causes the same 400% increase in microsleeps. Eleven nights of 4-hour sleep is equivalent to two back-to-back all-nighters.
- Ten days of six hours sleep per night is also equivalent to an all-nighter.
Eight hours of sleep per night provides nearly perfect levels of concentration with no microsleeps.
Being awake for 19 straight hours (5 am to midnight) produces the same impairment as being legally drunk.
Long hours of “dedicated” work seems to have gained a level of admiration in corporate circles. It shouldn’t. Longer hours of impaired work and concentration is dangerous for the company and dangerous for the individual. Let alone the shortcomings that are created with the work-life balance issues listed above. Stop doing it. Stop encouraging it. It’s healthier too:
Balance, Balance, Balance.