What is Physiology and Why Should I Care About It?

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Meeting Your Basic Survival Needs

Texas snow storm causing all kinds of damage in February 2021.

So in this past week Texas, where I live, had an awful cold snap and winter storm. Texas doesn’t do well in snow or icy weather but it is very rare we have bitter cold or freezing temperatures. We had roughly a week that fell down into the teens for several days and even hit zero degrees one day. Worse the windchill was going into the negative teens for a few days. Sadly for Texans, we are on our own electric grid and the new demand caused rolling blackouts.

This put millions of people from all walks of life into a deep freeze in their homes with many, several millions, seeing temperatures dropping to the 40s and 50s due to no power for multiple days. What’s worse, I saw a handful of people in between 28 degrees and 38 degrees. Yowza! That is cold! And having to live in that for days puts you into another state of mind and pushes you to do desperate things. 

We saw people busting furniture and burning it to keep fires going to try to warm up. There were people pulling their bbq girls to a window to try to cook on the grill while staying inside. When you are unable to stay warm and unable to cook food as you normally would and unable to pickup food or have it delivered because of snow and TX not having plows, you start to go into survival mode.

desperate attempt to thaw out our water pipes in TX 2021 snow storm and grid shutdown.

Then there was the water. Yes, because of these temperatures pipes were freezing and so we had to fight to find a system of dripping facets or heating pipes to try to keep pipes from freezing. This awful image above shows the desperate attempt we made outside with rags and a space heater and a makeshift insulated fort to try to thaw our pipes. Ours froze for about 4 hours but we started getting things warm soon enough to manage things.

If pipes freeze you no longer have water for cleansing, cooking, drinking, washing dishes or clothes. This added a second level of survival, in honesty maybe this was more than just two as it affected ease of having – food, water, excretion disposal, probably sleep, and certainly warmth.

 

How are you dealing with insecurities caused by the pandemic? How are your Safety needs being met? Let's review maslow's hierarchy of needs again.

If you are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs you may be familiar with the Basic Survival Needs or our Physiological Needs. This is the foundation of the Hierarchy of Needs and basically the things we need in order to survive – air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, reproduction. Not having these basic items could be deadly and hinder trying to get all the other things we might want in life – Safety, Loving and Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualization. Come to think of it, this winter storm was climbing the ladder and moving into the second tier, Safety. You see the body was not secure for all people, the safety of their health was in question and the safety of their property was potentially in harms way with water pipe breaks, and flooding, or water damage to ceilings, walls, and floors.

What’s this have to do with living a Hellagood Life, you may be asking yourself? Well, in my eyes it’s important to address and review our needs based on Maslow’s Hierarchy. You see we must meet our needs in order to reach our fullest potential in life and if any stage is not met, we will struggle. The previous paragraphs were to share how even the rich and middle-class people could easily need to fight for survival. These things are so often overlooked as we assume we’ll never have to deal with this stuff because “we’ve made it” or we are above all that “basic needs” stuff. Mother nature and Texas showed us that assumption is completely flawed.

So let’s dig into what Physiology is and more thoughts on why we should be concerned about this stuff or think about how to protect our physiology and safety so we do not run into problems like all Texans did a week ago.

What is Physiology (or the Science of Life)?

From a scientific viewpoint, it is the study of the processes and mechanisms of living organisms. These processes are what make it possible for us to interact with our environment. More importantly, they enable us to respond to any challenges that arise.

For instance, think about gravity as living things’ biggest challenge. Gravity is a natural force that pulls us down towards the earth. In response, living things have developed muscles and appendages to be able to maneuver despite the presence of gravity.

Our physiology is crucial to our survival. But sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in the scientific definitions of things.

Physiology in its Simplest Form

Taking away all the scientific definitions, exactly what is physiology? More specifically, what does it mean to the average human being?

To answer that question, here is a simple exercise.

Close your eyes for a moment. 

The first thing you’ll notice is your breathing. That’s a physiological process that occurs whether we think about it consciously or not. It’s also the easiest process to note, which means most of the things that happen within your body go unnoticed. That is until something goes wrong.

If we need to stop everything and focus on remembering that we’re breathing automatically, you can imagine how many physiological processes go unnoticed.

Blood courses through our bodies through a physiological process known as circulation. The heart keeps pumping oxygen-rich blood into the body. Lungs keep taking in the fresh air and expelling out carbon dioxide. Our immune system is constantly on guard, keeping out foreign bodies so that we stay healthy.

Do we control any of these processes? Not consciously, we don’t. But, if one of these perfectly synchronized processes goes out of whack, then we become ill, and sometimes we die.

What does this tell you about your own physiology?

What is Physiology to You?

Whether you’re walking, talking, reading, driving, or sleeping, physiological processes are in action. You’re barely aware of them most of the time. That doesn’t make them any less important to your survival.

These silent processes play a huge role in our health and well-being. If your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it eventually starts to affect everything you do. You might become weaker and unable to concentrate, even though nothing about you has physically changed. The same was true with exposure to extreme cold for extended periods. I have friends that talked about “being in a fog” just trying to keep warm. That’s pretty scary.

The same applies to what we eat, how we live, and the environments we expose ourselves to. You cannot be truly healthy, happy, and in control, if you neglect your own physiology. 

Remember, these processes are the results of thousands of years of evolution. They are necessary for your health and survival.

That’s why some of the simplest tips for happy, healthy living are to eat better, to drink more water, and to get plenty of sleep. Doing these three things keeps your physiological processes running smoothly, and just as you’ll see the impact of a failing process, the effects of paying attention to your physiology are just as visible.

Our physiology is strongly linked to our ability to survive. The more attention you pay to yourself, and your body, the happier, healthier, and more balanced your life will be. A question we must ask ourselves is… how can we take care of our physiology even in extreme situations? Are there things we can do to be more prepared for extreme situations like Texas just saw? That’s a whole new article, but some people do hone their survival skills as a hobby and it could help in these situations. That is not easy for all, but it is something valuable to think about and reflect on if we truly want to create a Hellagood Life.

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2 thoughts on “What is Physiology and Why Should I Care About It?”

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