The Duration Factor (On Stress And Pain)

Simply because we get used to something does not mean it is good for us.

Humans are amazingly resilient and adaptable creatures with a great capacity to work through stress and pain as long as we feel like we are making progress because of it. This survival mechanism can be extremely useful when we need it for some specific task, but, like every tool at our disposal, it is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution for every aspect of our lives. Simply put, we are not meant to push though every difficult, stressful, and painful thing we experience just because we can.

Stress and pain are our mind and body’s way of telling us something is not right, of telling us to slow down or not to do something. They are indicators that what we trying to do, if we do it in this way for a long enough period of time, could cause us injury or even death. Undertaken for good reason, under the right conditions, and with proper precautions, however, working through stress and pain can actually make us stronger, healthier, and more resilient, but only so long as these periods of work are bookended by a proper amount physical and mental rest, recovery, and nutrition.

Without reprieve, stress and pain over long durations actually make us weaker, more fragile, and vulnerable. While we may come to not notice it, if we experience the same stresses and the same pains constantly, day in and day out, we put ourselves in a position to be blindsided by other physical, psychological, and emotional dangers because we have become unhealthily desensitized to their warning signs. It is actually in the space between, in the periods of physical and mental rest, recovery, and nourishment, that we heal and grow.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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