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Posts Tagged ‘Outside Magazine’

Stress

Here’s the ironic thing about stress: The human body has evolved to cope with it too effectively. When you suffer under a crappy boss—a stressful situation, sure, but hardly life-threatening—your body responds as if you’re being chased by a predator. Stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine spike, causing your attention to narrow and your body’s inflammatory reactions to kick into high gear. This would help you avoid infection if, say, your boss bit you, but when continuously activated, inflammatory reactions can wreak havoc on your health, leading to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and diabetes. Chronic stress can even shrink your hippocampus, a part of the brain that supports learning and memory. In short: You need to calm down.

It is probably a bad sign that I completely forgot to post this piece I did for Outside Magazine about ways to beat stress.

The Great Awakening

For Outside Magazine, I spent a night in a strip mall in Fremont with a bunch of electrodes attached to my head, doing a sleep evaluation. I can’t say it was the best night I ever had, but it made me even more obsessed with my eight hours a day than I was before. And believe me when I say that I take my sleep seriously.

As little as 20 hours without sleep leaves you with the same impaired attention and slow reflexes of someone who is legally drunk. Chris Eatough, six-time winner of the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenaline Championship mountain-bike race, says that during a day-long competition, his vision will occasionally stop. “I’ll be flying downhill with rocks and trees to dodge,” he says, “and I’ll get a snapshot of the trail that doesn’t change for four or five seconds.”

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