When one of Ministry Incubator’s leaders sat down with a mentor, feeling the pressure of a to-do list that was quite literally impossible for him to achieve that week, his mentor asked him to circle a few things he actually could do.
To the stressed-out leader’s surprise, his mentor circled, “develop an exercise routine.” The mentor argued that personal wellness was a prerequisite to any work that followed.
It turns out the research backs him up.
Sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s book Burnout, featured by everyone from Brene Brown to Goop to the Washington Post, could not be more unambiguous in endorsing a good walk.
The sisters articulate how dealing with the stressors in our lives (inboxes, caregiving, traffic, pandemics) does very little to resolve the physiological stress (raised cortisol levels, increased blood pressure).
We’re all pretty familiar at this point with the long-term damage those physiological effects can have, and the best thing we can do to avoid those outcomes is to not have so many stressors in our life.
This is why it’s essential to highlight the second best thing we can do.
The Nagoskis explain that our physiological stress response evolved to help us run, fight, and seek help from other humans.
So to “complete the stress cycle” to show our lizard brains and bodies we are safe, we have to satisfy those needs: to run, to fight, to connect with others.
There is no single activity we can do to better bring down those stress hormone levels than running for 20-30 minutes.
They also recommend 20-second hugs to create some of the same effects.
Both of these might sound like torture to some of us, but could the outcome be worth it?