How stepping back and taking a breath can increase the health of you and your startup.
Burn the Bridges 🔥
Hunker Down 🙇
And fight to our deaths 👊
Sound familiar? We’ve all considering taking this this approach when building out our respective companies. We are willing to sacrifice almost anything for our company to succeed, including jeopardizing the health of our team and ourselves, all while we focus on that next big raise or product release.
But do we need to grind at an insane and potentially unhealthy level to help get our respective companies to succeed?
Yes, yes you do!
But is that break neck pace possible, day in and day out?
What are the negative affects of 18 hour days, lack of sleep, no exercise and all those stimulants (regardless if its Red Bull, coffee, or Provigil)
And in the long run, is your Series A worth the negative health consequences associated with this lifestyle?
Yes, it probably is 😉
I won’t talk you out of grinding 24/7, and I’m not going to Gary Vee you and say “grow or die”. But hopefully I can help you develop deloading strategies that are used in pro sports to help athletes, recover, recharge, and perform at a high levels — season over season — year after year.
But first, the science of stress and why you need to calm down that stress response!
Here is an excerpt from an older blog post by Patrick Ward Phd. a Sports Scientist with the Seattle Seahawks:
“Stress plays a key role in how we adapt or (dont adapt to training). A 2008 study by Bartholomew et al., evaluated 135 undergraduate students grouping them into either low or high stress groups based on a series of psychological measures. What they found was that those who were considered “high stress” subjects had a more difficult time adapting to the 12-week, periodized resistance training program. These high stress individuals saw lower scores on both bench press and squat as well as girth measurements (hypertrophy) in post program testing.
More recently (2014), Stults-Kolehmainen and colleagues evaluated the effects that chronic mental stress had on the recovery of muscle function and somatic sensations (E.g., perceived energy, fatigue, and soreness) over a four day period. To quantify life stress, the Perceived Stress Scale and the Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire were completed by the subjects. The subjects completed a leg press training session of 6 sets x 10 reps at 80–100% of their individual 10RM. Maximal isometric force, jump height, cycle power, perceived energy, fatigue, and soreness were assessed at 24hr intervals following the training session. Interestingly, it was found that chronic stress had an impact on muscle recovery following the leg press training session, with low recovery curves being seen in those reporting high levels of stress. The subjects with lower levels of stress saw more efficient recovery curves. Perhaps the low stress individuals are in a position to tolerate and adapt to training more efficiently.”
Simply put, the body when highly overstressed, cannot adapt to physical and emotional stress in an efficient manner, and ultimately leads to a down regulation of perceived energy, motivation and drive.
Now does that sound like something you want when driving for that funding round or a 30% increase in MRR???
Nope, not one bit!
So how do you introduce an effective deload?
When discussing deloads in a professional sport setting, taking a day off from practice or sitting a game is not always possible. Especially considering the slim margins between wins and losses in the pro game.
And much like your startup, pushing back that new product release and telling your investors that “you’re burned out” would never happen
So if you can’t sit the athlete and you can’t push back deadlines in your business, how do you deload the athlete/startup owner?
Enter recovery and regeneration
Over the past 10–15 years, recovery in pro sports has become almost as important as training for the event. Team focus heavily on providing recovery modalities and environments that will allow the athlete to perform at high levels every time they touch the field of play.
In a business setting, we need to embrace the idea of keeping our “players” fresh and ready to perform. This is where the concept of recovery and regeneration comes into play.
We look at recovery and regen as two separate buckets, which affect each player differently:
Fight or Flight: This stress response would be governed by the sympathetic branch of the nervous system.
- Increased resting heart rate and blood pressure
- Decreased appetite
- Loss of body mass
- Decreased sleep
- Decreased performance
- Increased fatigue
Rest and Digest: This stress response would be governed by the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system.
- Low resting heart rate and blood pressure
- Lots of sleep, but never well rested
- Signs of depression
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased competitive desire
- Decreased performance
- Increased fatigue
Both of theses branches need to be recovered to fully realize your emotional and physical potential!
So how do we recover to optimally perform day in and day out?
It’s important to understand that these methods are to be used when absolutely needed, and not all the time. Simply put, we don’t want to blunt the response and lessen the effectiveness of the method.
Plan on using these methods for about 2x to 3x per week for a period of 2 weeks max!
Sympathetic Over Reaching Recommendations:
- Stimulate appetite through alkaline foods (Milk, Fruit, Fresh Vegetables)
- Avoid stimulants(coffee), small quantities of alcohol are permitted
- Increased quantities of vitamins (B group)
- Physical therapy or light massage (if you’re in New York, check out these guys: https://www.recover.nyc/
- Cold showers in the morning (see Whim Hoff method)
- Light and rhythmical exercises (a pilates class at New York Pilates would be great here.)
- Moderate ultraviolet irradiations, but avoid intense sun radiations
- Change the environment, if possible alternate areas of various altitudes
Parasympathetic Over Reaching Recommendations:
- Favor acidifying foods, cheese, meat, cake, eggs (yes, eat some dessert! 🍩)
- Vitamins B group and C group
- Alternate hot showers (3 minutes) and cold showers (1 minute) repeat this 3x (Also know as the contrast method)
- Sauna at medium temperature, alternated with short, cold showers (Brrrn in the Flatiron section of NYC has an excellent infrared sauna to utilize. Plus their cold workouts can help stimulate recovery)
- Intensive massage or stretching (Racked with multiple locations all over Manhattan can help here)
- Intense workouts (hot yoga or a strength based workout)
The Ultimate Sauna Recovery Method
- Pre-heat the sauna to the highest temperature possible, at least 200 degrees is preferable
- Begin by getting in the sauna and stay in until you first break a sweat and then get out
- Rinse off for 5–10 seconds in luke warm water and then get out of the shower, pat yourself off, wrap a towel around yourself and then sit down for 2–3 minutes.
- Get back in the sauna and stay in for 5–10 minutes.
- Take another shower, this time make it as cold as possible and stay in it for 30 seconds.
- Get out of the shower, pat yourself dry, wrap a towel around yourself, and sit down and relax until you stop sweating completely and your skin is dry.
- Return to the sauna, this time stay in for 10–15 minutes and then get out.
- Repeat step 5–6
- Get back in the sauna for another 10–15 minutes and the get out
- Take another shower, this time make it fairly warm and stay in for 1–2 minutes
- Dry yourself completely off, lay down and relax for 5–10 minutes
So next steps….
Where we go from here is up to you. Being able to perform optimally is a key factor in daily performance. To use a team sport analogy, it’s not the fastest or strongest athlete that wins the match, it’s the athlete who can repeat that performance over and over again with technical and mental mastery. Much like our businesses, repeatable and duplicatable performance is what we’re after; now get after it 😀.
Bryan @ LEON