In the opinion of many in the elite performance science community, HRV is the number one biometric to master in cutting a path to optimal improvement in performance. Research has shown good HRV is mapped to improved performance while decreased HRV is correlated to illness. It’s also linked to athletic success while logic would indicate leads to better overall performance in our work.
HRV gives us insight into your body’s stress response. Low HRV is linked to sympathetic dominance (stress and poor recovery) while high HRV is equated with parasympathetic dominance (rest, digest, recovery). Obviously, we want less stress and more recovery to take on challenging tasks, projects and periods of our lives. Learning about HRV and how to improve it will enable you to do this.
Here are simple tips to improve your Heart Rate Variability.
It starts with mastering deep diaphragmic breathing. Make this a daily habit for 3-5 minutes when you wake up, once or twice during the workday and 5-10 minutes at bedtime. Seem like a lot of work? Yes, the alternative is less appealing to me.
Another key strategy to improving HRV is getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. The “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” crowd should really pay attention here. Research has shown 97% of people genetically need 7-8 hours. When I discovered I had Sleep Apnea and acted, my HRV shot up nearly 10 points in a month. Sleep matters. Take it seriously.
Something easy that all of us forget a times is to hydrate daily. An easy way to think about this is to drink 50% of your body weight in oz’s of water or just make sure you have light to clear urine color.
Throughout my adult life I have had to learn this, relearn it and really work at it. What is it? Learn to reframe your thoughts as you go through your day.
We can do this on one of several ways. First, start a daily journal where you write down 3 things you are grateful for today. Secondly, try to take your focus off yourself and place it on others. You can do this in meditation or just shift your thinking. Third, visualize past successes to remind yourself of what you are capable of. Lastly, consider looking into Acceptance and Commitment Training or ACT. The highlights are a) notice negative thoughts, b) name them, c) state to yourself they are unhelpful in achieving the life you want and d) move past them. A helpful book on ACT is The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris.
Learning to improve HRV and manage your load daily, based on your daily HRV reading is a core skill you can develop to take better control of your health. When you do, your performance will grow significantly. Failure to manage stress has a very poor downside. Individuals with an overactive stress-response and poor HRV are at higher risk for Type II Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiovascular disease and cancer.
By mastering HRV and the practices that improve it, you are changing for the better your performance today and your long – term health for the future!
The team at Tiger Neuroscience can help you learn all this science and implement a plan that gets results. Schedule a free consult today. No hard sell ever.