Modern life keeps us busy. No doubt about it! But just look around you or even at your own daily patterns. You’re probably a lot more mentally busy than physically busy.
For most of human history, the concept of work involved physical tasks. A day might have begun with milking the cows, followed by shoveling hay for livestock, and later plowing a field for new crops — each task methodically followed one after another. Because one person could do only one physical task at a time, multitasking wasn’t really possible.
However, with the dawning of the Petroleum Age, the concept of work changed radically. Today, most of the physically strenuous work is now done by machines.
The work that humans do in the 21st century involves designing machines, selling machines, selling things made by machines, managing people who make or design machines, managing people who sell stuff made by machines, managing people who run machines, and finally, actually running the machines.
It’s all decidedly mental…and mental work allows for multitasking. In fact, many people now rely on computer programs just to keep track of all the tasks they have to juggle on any given day.
After a long hard day of mental multitasking, it’s typical to go home and crash on the couch — because mental work is exhausting! But it’s exhausting in a very different way than physical work. Mental work is exhausting because it stimulates the same parts of the brain that activate when we encounter something threatening — the classic fight or flight response.
In the case of encountering a natural threat, such as confronting a tiger in the jungle, the body instantaneously prepares for rapid escape (or battle, if you’re backed into a corner). Muscles tense, visual and mental acuity sharpen, glucose is mobilized to power muscle contractions, heart rate quickens and blood flow increases — all to prepare the body for a physical response. Running, the obvious solution to natural threat, would dissipate all that energy.
When you mentally manage, however, the energy generated for threat confrontation stays bottled up inside as if it were inside a pressure cooker. When the threat reaction is never released and hangs around as is typical in the modern work day, chronic tension in the body results.
Blood pressure stays up. Blood glucose is continually mobilized, resulting in elevated blood sugar and carbohydrate craving. Tension and irritability become a chronic state. GI problems develop. Sleep is disturbed. Immune function is disrupted. Health deteriorates and sedentary sickness takes hold.
The natural solution for sedentary sickness is, of course, becoming more physically active. Develop a habit of getting up and moving around for 5 minutes after every 25 minutes of mental work to help dissipate bottled-up energy. Devote time for exercise after work or during lunch breaks to help even more. Just an hour of walking is enough to defuse all the exhaustive energy built up during a day that has been particularly taxing to you mentally .
But assuring physical work is melded with mental work is only a partial solution. Tension still builds during mental effort. Adaptogenic herbs can help defuse that energy before it builds.
Herbs defined as adaptogens naturally counteract the negative effects of stress. Herbal adaptogens balance adrenal hormones disrupted by stress, improve mental acuity, support normal immune function, normalize cardiovascular function, restore natural sleep, and defuse built-up tension. Because adaptogenic herbs are safe and well tolerated, they can be taken continually without concern.
If stress is felt more emotionally, a combination of the herbs ashwagandha, magnolia, phellodendron, and l-theanine provides an ideal solution for improving stress resistance. If stress is felt more physically, a combination of cordyceps, reishi, Chinese skullcap, and rehmannia is the best choice. This combination of adaptogenic herbs balances adrenal hormones, supports optimal cardiovascular performance, normalizes blood glucose, and supports optimal immune function.
Adaptogenic herbs allow you to do more (and work better) by making you more resistant to the negative effects of chronic stress. That, along with staying physically active, is your best protection against sedentary sickness.