Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
3 Jul

5 Things I Still Struggle With

ican When it comes to living a healthy, Primal lifestyle, for the most part I’ve got things dialed in. There are very few things, if any, I’d change about my eating plan, my workouts, or my sleep schedule, for example, but there are some areas in which I know I can improve. Some major, some not so major. Like everyone does, I’d imagine. Nearly all of my struggles are related to finding a deeper sense of peace and contentment in this hectic modern world. In fact, I selfishly wrote a book, The Primal Connection, to give myself more tools and strategies to achieve the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from within that we all seek. (The book, you may be happy to know, recently won the Eric Hoffer award for best self-published book of 2013.)

While I’ve made some strides in these areas in recent years, the journey is never over. There is no perfect lifestyle or perfect diet or perfect workout. We all have something, or some things, we’d like to get better at. We all have struggles. So, today, I thought I’d share with you guys some of my personal struggles, as well as some ways for addressing and even overcoming them.

Stress Management

For all the posts I’ve done on the subject, all the advice I’ve doled out, all the focus I’ve given it, stress remains my biggest struggle. And, from talking to lots of you guys, this is a common issue in the community. The reason why stress continues to vex us, even if we’ve come to terms with our diet, fitness, and sleep? Stressors exist everywhere and they are non-specific and often non-material. They can be anything – or anyone – and the stress that results is intangible. You can choose not to eat the cupcake, but you can’t choose not to drive to work in traffic, pay your bills, or hear the neighbors’ insanely loud music at 2 AM. I suppose you could avoid opening the envelope containing the overdue notice on your mortgage, but that’s not really managing stress. That’s actually compounding it. The problem’s not going anywhere, and it actually intensifies the longer you ignore it. The cupcake you declined? That’s it. It’s done. You’ve said “no” and it ceases to impact you. Stressors are different. They linger. There’s no easy way to deal with them or the stress they produce.

And so we must manage our stressors, we must prepare ourselves to deal with the inevitable. That can be really, really tough. Another problem with the intangibility of stress? It’s tough to know when you’re truly managing it successfully. There’s no instant feedback. Even a stress management technique as relatively concrete (in the sense of “I’m taking active steps to manage my stress”) as meditation doesn’t deliver instant results. Heck, it can take months or years of consistent practice to derive tangible benefit. So when I try to manage my stress, it’s hard to know if it’s working or not. I’m an instant feedback kind of guy. That’s how I operate best. When that feedback doesn’t materialize right away, I struggle.

How I deal: I’m still working on this one. I’ve done a bit of meditation (too formal for my tastes). I’ve tried avoidance (impossible and ultimately ineffective). What seems to work best is filling up on nature. I’ve come to realize that I can’t avoid stress. It’s there and if I want to keep doing what I’m doing, it’s unavoidable. But if I can get out into nature several times a week, preferably every day, I feel markedly better. “Nature” can mean a hike through Topanga Canyon, a few hours of standup paddleboarding, lounging on the beach, a weekend camping trip in the Sierras, or even – if I’m really desperate – a game of Ultimate Frisbee in the park. As long as I can get the grass (or sand, or dirt) between my toes and some greenery in my periphery, I can deal with the stress. It doesn’t last for long, though. I have to keep re-upping my nature intake.

Staying in the Moment

I’ll often notice my mind drifting away, mid-conversation, mid-reading-a-book, mid-watching-a-great-flick, mid-workout, mid-anything-that-deserves-full-attention. It’s not that I try to think of the post I’m writing, that meeting tomorrow, or what I’m eating for dinner that night when talking to another person. Those thoughts just drift in and seize hold of my attention. The problem is that however momentary the lapse in attention on the here and now, it’s disruptive and off-putting (especially if you’re in the midst of a conversation) and ultimately cheapens the experience of everyday life.

How I deal: I can’t avoid those thoughts, but I can stop myself from focusing on them. Lately, I’ve had success by changing how I perceive the exchange. My mind isn’t drifting to other thoughts; other thoughts are drifting into my mind, which stays in the same place. This reframing allows me to acknowledge, briefly analyze, and then ignore the incoming thoughts. They’re there, and I know it, but I don’t let them seize control of my attention. If they happen to be important thoughts with a legit claim to my attention, I can switch over. But it’s under my control, at least in theory. It seems to be working so far.

Staying Off the Phone and the Laptop When I Know I Should Be Chilling with Friends and Family

The Internet is an amazing resource offering untold delights. With a few taps on the keyboard, you’re privy to untold reams of knowledge vaster than any library, historical, fictional, or otherwise (except maybe the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – the electronic database depicted in the book of the same name, not the book itself). And it’s always growing, moving, living, responding – in real time. You don’t just read an article, you read the comment section that unfolds before you and often contains better stuff than the article itself. You don’t just read a single Wikipedia entry and then power off the computer. You start clicking links, bouncing from Roman mythology to astronomy to astrology to mythological dragons to cryptozoology to Bigfoot to famous hoaxes to the JFK assassination to Vietnam until you’ve fallen down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and emerged moderately more knowledgeable than you were before. It’s great, and that’s what makes it so irresistible and addicting.

It doesn’t help that much of my work takes place on the computer or phone, whether it’s responding to emails or taking meetings online or conducting research for blog posts. If I want to keep doing what I’m doing, I need to be connected, which makes it easy to come up with justifications for using it all the time. But I don’t need to be connected during dinner with the family. Or when out for drinks with some friends. My brain may “think” it needs to check that email or respond to that text, but I know better. Even though I “want” to grab the phone because it’s been twenty minutes since I last checked my email, I ultimately can refrain from doing so.

How I deal: This is a constant struggle, but actually physically powering the devices down when I know I shouldn’t be using them has really helped. So, if I go out to dinner, I’ll often turn my phone off. It’s there if I need it, but it’s not tempting me. If I’m at home with the family, I’ll shut my laptop down. It’s a simple and effective solution. Powering something back on is just difficult enough to dissuade you from constantly doing it on a whim.

Learning to Say “No”

I’m constantly in “go” mode, as I alluded to earlier. I’m always looking for a new experience, something bigger, something better. And the bigger MDA and the Primal community has gotten, the more opportunities I’ve had to get involved in extremely cool projects. It’s hard to say no to them, and I rarely do. There’s an innate desire, in everyone, I think, to devour new and “awesomer” experiences. It’s that very Primal part of me that just wants as much as he can get. Thousands of years ago, when the world was very small, when traveling thirty miles took an entire day (not twenty minutes) and relaying messages required physical transportation of that message (not a click of a button), we could go for every opportunity and stay grounded because, well, there weren’t that many opportunities. The number and scale of opportunities in the ancestral environment were inherently limited.

Now? Now I can get an invitation from a guy in South Africa to speed off for a safari. Now I can get fifty emails a day requesting my participation in some project or another, and most of them sound great. And because everyone’s so interconnected, and data is so widely available, and cool ideas are mating with cooler ideas, people are coming up with fascinating opportunities. It’s really, really hard to say no. But say no I must, because our bodies are still meat machines limited by physical realities.

How I deal: With the help of an assistant, I break down what I have to do, what I’ve already planned to do, and what I’d like to do, then set a “venture limit” each month based on my schedule. It isn’t perfect, but it does help keep me accountable to someone that’s not me.

Turning My Brain Off

Our brains are “us.” Quite literally, our hopes, our dreams, our personalities, our consciousness, our sense of self – they call come from the brain. With that in mind, the idea of turning off the brain is scary. I mean, won’t that kill me? Or, at the very least, reduce me to a mindless automaton? No. By “turning my brain off,” I mean “getting out of my head.” It’s important to be able to get out of our own heads from time to time and get into the instinctual “flow” state, where you are completely absorbed by your endeavors without engaging in fluffy, counterproductive metathought.

I’ve touched on the flow state before. The problem with getting to the flow state is that once you realize you’re there, it’s in danger of slipping away. It’s kind of the eternal, uniquely human struggle faced by big brained hominids: how do we reconcile the animal inside us with the intellectual? The passion and the rationality? There are nights where I keep myself up just thinking about… stuff. I’ll think about what I have to do the next day. I’ll think about what I didn’t do twenty years ago and now regret. I’ll think about all these struggles I’ve been relaying in this post. I’ll think about thinking. In short, I’ll be in my own head way too much, so much that it gets in the way of living, doing, and being.

How I deal: This is a tough one, especially since I have to use my brain to tell my brain to stay out of itself, or something. I can’t do this on cue, but I have the most success getting out of my head when I’m intensely focused on an important, interesting task. The key for me is to figure out how to do that when I’m just lying in bed.

Well, that’s what I struggle with, folks. What about you? What do you still struggle with? How do you cope, and how successful are your coping strategies? Let me know in the comments! Oh, and if you’ve got any suggestions for my struggles, I’m all ears!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great article!

    I think this is probably the major thing most people who have been primal for some time struggle with. Atleast for myself I can relate to these issues.

    Eirik wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I have two points to make Mark.
      1. I would try again with the meditation – with several of your points (including stress, turning your brain ‘off’, it really is the best alternative in my opinion)
      2.Your comment about the brain being ‘us’ and everything we are – I would recommend you read the power of now by Eckardt Tolle who would suggest otherwise, That our soul is really our being and the mind but a tool we use to navigate the works around us, It offers a great aktetnative perspective and is a great read (it will also cover several if hit topics, most obviously staying present in the ‘now’ – good luck

      Nick wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • That was the book that popped into my mind too, especially since I just finished reading it last week.

        Great minds think alike, or maybe in this case, stop thinking so much. ;-)

        Jeff wrote on July 3rd, 2013
        • Agree. The interesting thing is that I arrived to The Power of Now from a link posted here in Mark’s site (related to quiet the chatter in the mind, etc).

          wildgrok wrote on July 4th, 2013
      • I would recommend meditation too, even more while in bed. Mark you can just lie down and focus on your breath. Once you realize you’re following your thoughts, just go back to the breath. It is a training, it doesn’t get perfect in one day but little by little it’s growing. Like a muscle, the brain creates and enforces new connections when you ask it to do something for you. It helps for falling asleep, for defusing emotions (stress) and being more in the present.

        For the Power of Now, I would personally not recommend it. I’m not a big fan of gurus stuff where there is little scientific validation behind. Why? Because even if actually the book is OK and the teaching inside does make sense and is positive, it doesn’t stick with me at the end, as it is just a personal point of view of someone else. I can’t make my own point of view based on that. I would instead recommend “Thinking, fast and slow” from Daniel Kahneman. It is based on years of study (the guy’s a Nobel Prize) and the final learning is actually about the same: our brain is built on top of an animal brain, and it is always the first to respond to something by spreading emotions, intuitions, thoughts, etc… But the real We is the human brain, the one that is conscious and that makes the decisions at the end. Knowing this really helped me to see first that thoughts and emotions are just what they are, nothing more nothing less (so you don’t HAVE to follow them) and second that we don’t have any control over them, they are automatic. The only way to deal with them is firstly to be aware of the 2 brains, to realize We are only the second one, and to accept it. More details in the book, this is just the global idea.

        Guill wrote on July 4th, 2013
      • Having studied with Tom Brown JR @ the Tracker School for 10 years and now working with a Spiritual teacher, I can attest to meditation being very important. What I have experienced are two different perspectives. Tom thinks sitting meditation is Spiritual masturbation, while my current teacher believes that sitting meditation is the way to go. I am extremely active and sitting meditation is a massive undertaking, especially with the previous prejudice about it. I have been with this teacher 10 years also and sitting is still difficult for me.
        I suggest you try a moving meditation.
        Walk in the forest at 1/4 the speed you normally do with peripheral vision…try that for up to an hour, starting with 15-20 min. It will take you a whole new level of awareness and just put any thoughts in the recycle bin while you are walking. The key is to experience what is…no future, no past.
        hope that helps

        junebug wrote on July 5th, 2013
        • Very interesting – moving meditation! I have never heard of that concept. I will be looking into this. I never could clear my mind, (or shut it up)! long enough to meditate – But my most peaceful time of the day is walking through the woods or on a quiet beach at sunset. Perhaps I will learn to meditate then……..

          Nancy wrote on July 3rd, 2014
      • Agree completely. Meditating has caused improvement in my awareness…more conscious of myself. It is a tool….and it only changes things with practice and application. I usually shoot for 20-30 minutes, and use a chant word (mine is HU, said like “hue”). The long inhalation and gentle “singing” calms my mind. (studies support the long exhalation caused by this chant as being very calming and reducing stress) Have learned to observe my thoughts, rather than being controlled by the judgments of them. It connects me to my spiritual nature. Good luck!

        Susan wrote on July 5th, 2013
      • i disagree that meditation does not deliver instant results.
        sure, an experienced practitioner gets more out of it.
        as a novice, for the day i do it in morning, i feel calmer for the rest of the day. i should do it more often. but it is very hard set the time & allow myself to quite down on weekday morning.

        cheers,

        pam wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • This could hep – I like to go back to a theory I’ve read about indicating we actually have 3 “main” brains (Bill Williams, trading chaos), not one, and they actually run totally independently.

      To cut to the point, the left brain deals with logic and language, and when we feel stressed, we are “in” this brain. It understands what a bill is, and why it’s important to have to pay it. It does the worrying, which is obviously critical for survival, but so are the other 2 brains to the same level of importance. Too much time in the “left” brain = too much stress.

      The right side does not know about logical things and is abstract, it doesn’t know how to worry (this is why exposure to nature makes you “active” in this brain, for a time, you get out of your worry left brain, the right brain doesn’t care about bills, etc, its likes looking and clouds and trees and dreaming up stuff).

      The third brain, your main cortex does all the housekeeping (like keeping your heart beating, and sort of critical things like that). When you do “things” like jumping, or riding a horse without “thinking” about it – that’s your core brain in action. When you learn something you are in your clumsy Left brain which needs to program the core brain for the new skill.

      from a primal perspective – right brain dreams up the idea of a “spear”. The left brain takes this idea and thinks about how to do it, i.e. we need a stick or something that we sharpen the end. The main cortex then takes the command from the left brain to “practice” spearing stuff, until you get skilled at throwing the spear accurately by training your motor skills without even “thinking” of it – the core brain is way better at doing this than the “left”, this is why if you “think” about the golf shot, or basketball shot you end up missing – let your core brain do its job and don’t let the left brain “help” when the critical time comes, assuming you’ve done a lot of practice before of course and trained the skills into your core brain.

      MetalStorm wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Wow! I like that theory. I call the core my zen. Makes sense in many ways.

        gibson wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • MtealStorm that is so generalist that it’s pretty wrong.

        I have no idea when the guy wrote that but latest advances in neuroplasticity have significantly altered the way we view the brain and our knowledge of how it works.

        No one part of the brain works in isolation EVER, unless that person literally doesn’t have it. People have survived like that, but the results are awful and you don’t get people who have lost most of their left brain useless at taxes but still great at creativity.

        And the left brain doesn’t trigger stress, stress is triggered by the limbic system (largely the amygdala) that is also responsible for our emotions. When danger is sensed by the amygdala it fires the sympathetic nervous system that invokes fight of flight releasing cortisol and adrenaline amongst others chemicals and shutting down the immune system, reproduction, saliva production etc. This isn’t right brain v left brain.

        And it serves no purpose to say the core brain, because you cannot define that. it’s a lot more useful to say conscious or unconscious mind (and that’s a whole other discussion, mind v brain) and you touch on that when taking about practicing a new skill.

        You use the conscious to learn it and then hopefully when you need it you allow the unconscious to do its job when you need it. Interfering at a conscious level at that time usually just hinders things.

        BTW, I researched a lot on the brain and read many books when writing a book on the subject myself and I have never read anybody divide the brain into 3 before like that guy has. I’ve also never heard the expression core brain before although lizard brain is used a lot to describe the oldest part nearest the brain stem.

        Not sure about the cortehere is the neo-cortex (the rippled outside bit about 3mm deep) and the pre-frontal cortex, the newest part of the brain that comes in handy but struggles to deal with executive function because it requires so much energy in the form of oxygen and glucose and ‘ires’ quickly

        Tim Brownson wrote on July 5th, 2013
  2. You can also delegate if you’ve got someone to delegate to.

    Wenchypoo wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  3. As I inch towards a year of living primally (9 months and counting!) and think about where I’d like to be in 3 months time, it’s good to hear even the pro’s still have areas where they’d like to improve.

    PrimalParkGirl wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  4. I, too, can’t get out of my own head sometimes, especially at night. I can toss and turn for hours thinking of things that really aren’t important anyway.

    The best way I’ve learned to stop doing that is to come up with some brain games that take enough focus to stop the random thoughts, without being so interesting that I can’t fall asleep in the middle of it. So I try to name a fruit or vegetable that starts with every letter of the alphabet, or I count backwards from 500 by 7s or think of famous people whose first and last names start with the same letter.

    It usually doesn’t take long to drift off.

    JennF wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I do this as well! Although, I find counting backwards by 42s more effective.

      Another thing that helps is trying to focus on the silence. If I’m trying to sleep and find my brain buzzing with a million different things, switching my attention to the actual, physical world outside by listening to the silence around me helps turn my brain off. Having some white noise to focus on can help, too. Chances are your brain will be buzzing again within seconds, but you get better at it! I guess it’s essentially meditation.

      Speaking of which, The Paleo Drummer is hosting a 30 day meditation challenge for July! 15 minutes a day for 30 days. You guys should check it out if you haven’t already (:

      Alyssa wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • @Alyssa Wow I’ll have to check out his site, sounds cool. Lately I’ve gotten off the meditation track. Usually I’m pretty good about turning my mind off at night (skipping sugary desserts can help with that) but it’s during the day that I’ve been having trouble. I find I’m much more stressed out due to financial fears and fears about getting older. I’m kind of freaking out that my birthday is this month and I feel like I haven’t moved enough in my career. Glad to know that Mark is still trying to improve too. This has been a great post.

        Rachel M wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • 15 min a day works wonders :) and a little motivation can be good. Thanks for sharing!

        Eline wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • There is a “meditation” that really helps with this. You imagine cool mud flowing down into your head. Not dirty mud, but the lovely mud you would find at the edge of the river on a hot day that feels so good on your feet. What this is acturally doing is grounding the mental or energetic static that has collected around your brain during the day. Try it. I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.

      Anne K wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • I always called that “closing the garage door” and felt the cool metal panels sliding down all around my head. Same effect, though. It’s like setting your brain down on the receiver. I swear I hear all the distant mental mechanical squeaks and hissing just STOP the moment I do that.

        Monstersauce wrote on July 4th, 2013
    • I’ll have to try the “brain game” approach. I’ve found success with thinking about all the things I had gratitude for that day. It serves a couple purposes and I drift off peacefully.

      Nicole wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • you can also take passiflora incarnata…passionflower tincture …it is specific for turning off the monkey mind

      junebug wrote on July 5th, 2013
  5. Um… I think at some point the paleo community has to realise that we are not designed to be happy — we are designed to survive and reproduce. Survival and reproduction can be achieved by making us (momentarily) happy; it can also be achieved by making us stressed and sad. Nature doesn’t care, as long as it gets the job done. All is not lost — I’m sure we can still find ways of ‘jail-breaking’ our evolved software — but it just means that we have to be smarter about it. Mark has made a good start with his Connections. Check this out too:

    Buss, D. M. (2000). The Evolution of Happiness. American Psychologist, 55(1), 15-23.

    Scott UK wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • God designed us to be happy -it’s written all over the Bible that fear and anxiousness is not want God wants for us. God does not want us to be anxious and fearful – try 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. The Matthew 6:31-34, Matthew 10:28-31, Romans 8:28, Phil 4:6, Eccl 11:20, 1 Peter 5:7, John 4:18, Psalm 55:22

      julie wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • I was going to comment with much the same thing, Julie. Of course we were created to be happy!

        God also created us to live in community with one another, however that community may look to each of us. Much of what Mark talks about in this post is “unplugging” and reconnecting with his community, which is his family and closest friends. We all need that reminder. Our community aids in our happiness, because that’s how we’re wired!

        Danielle wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Amen!

        Susan wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Since when did working on imperfections equate to not being happy? I think both can coexist. Of course it depends on your mindset on the situation at hand.

      Chika wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  6. Ha when I read the title I at first thought the struggles were going to be dietary! The biggest primal struggle I deal with it my sweet tooth! And for me I think it is a form of my own stress management. I have no problem eliminating 100% of grains, but every evening I CRAVE sugar and usually end up scrounging for some candy or ice cream. I have tried so hard but cant seem to break this cycle… it seems to be a ” reward” to myself after a stressful day. Ive been otherwise primal/ paleo for 1 1/2 years.

    lora wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I have exactly the same problem. My diet has cleaned up throughout months of focusing on training and primal eating and fighting emotional eating. I can easily follow the diet with all restrictions and I no longer crave processed sugary food. But carbs are still my problem in the evenings, when I am too tired or stressed out. I reach for healthy emergency food such as fruits or nuts or even fatty treats like greek yoghurt, but yet it hinders my fat loss that I have been trying to target for months. I see really fast results on people I turned to paleo, but my late evening munchies, no matter how healthy, are a big “mental” obstacle to me. Anyone can help?

      Blondie wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • What I find works well for me on this front is the 16/8 intermittent fasting models where you choose an 8h window in which you eat. In so doing I eat no breakfast, have a light enough lunch, and then eat quite a lot in the late evening for dinner and sometimes a dessert of berries and cream. How does it work for me? Well… it makes me full to the point of not having the slightest desire to eat more in the evening. It’s easy to have a really satisfying meal that doesn’t blow you out of proportion calorically when you have a shorter eating window.

        Marc wrote on July 3rd, 2013
        • Yes! Also known as the “warrior diet”.

          David A. Williams wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Yup! I work dark chocolate into lunch and greek yogurt is dinner, combined with berries and maybe walnuts. I eat protein and veggies for breakfast and lunch and watch the numbers. It does the job for me, and I’m an emotional eater from wayback. I count the fat in the chocolate and the yogurt in my daily take. If I’m going to cut, I’ll cut somewhere else first. I eat in about a twelve-hour window and don’t usually snack. If I get hungry before bed, I have a glass of almond milk or something very light. Of course there are off-days, but few and usually under high stress. If I want to lose faster, I cut a little protein.

        gibson wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • I’m a very aural learner. Perhaps that’s why I’m musical? So I put the non primal foods in a different cupboard. Then I say OUT LOUD to myself, “this cupboard is out of bounds. This food is not mine. It belongs to …….. And I do not have permission to eat it”. Also if I’m craving something sweet I say, OUT LOUD, “I will not eat ……, from the cupboard”.
        I think this works because I am physically saying the “words” and if I was to “cheat” I would be breaking my word. I take this seriously. I want to be a woman of integrity. This was especially revealed to me when I started sneaking food from this forbidden cupboard a few months ago. I tried to say the words in my head (not as effective at all) and not only could I not even bring myself to say it out loud, I could not even finish the sentence in my head. I would “think”…. ” I don’t eat the food….” And my brain would switch off and I could not complete the sentence. I didn’t want to be a liar, even to myself.

        Late night carb binging is common in my opinion. Try declaring, “I will not snack after my evening meal”

        On a practical note, have primal sweet foods available. At least it’s slightly better than the late night pantry raid I’m guessing you currently indulge in.

        I know this sounds loopy. But it really worked for me.

        Jane wrote on July 3rd, 2013
        • Brings to mind a story I read years ago. A mother takes her child to the leader, Ghandi, and asks, “Tell my boy to stop eating sugar! He eats sugar all the time!” Ghandi replies, “Take your child home and come back in 6 weeks.” So she takes him home, and 6 weeks later returns to see Ghandi. Ghandi says to the boy, “Stop eating sugar!”, and nothing more. The mother says, “That’s it? Why didn’t you do that 6 weeks ago?”…and he answers, “Ma’am, 6 weeks ago * I * was eating sugar.”

          Lesson…don’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk.

          Diane wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Might be able to help, as I’ve had the same thing. Here’s what to do – when you feel the craving come, don’t immediately go for the food. Give yourself like.. 2/3 minutes and just feel the impulse to eat. Give it some attention. Then you can go and eat. Do this whenever you feel a craving and gradually they’ll lose their hold over you.

        Joe wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • This might sound a bit naive, but I’ve found the best solution by far for that is to just go to bed early. If I crave sweet stuff (rare) it’s because I’m tired, stressed, or both, and extra bed time helps all of that :)

        Elizabeth wrote on July 4th, 2013
    • Hi Lora, sugar is my nemesis too. When I started Primal I ate fresh coconut meat to get past cravings, sweet enough to satisfy but full of good fat. Maybe this might help you too?

      Primal-V wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • It’s a quick decision to make and implement, and I’m not always successful at this, but when I decide I should be finished eating for the day (e.g. when the dinner dishes are washed and the kitchen is cleaned up), I will quick go brush my teeth since that is a signal for me to quit eating.

      Sari wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I still have pretty bad sugar cravings. Sweets have always been my downfall so I decided to try the 21DSD. It was really hard at the time (even though I was sleeping like a baby and my skin/energy was fabulous.) but I think it is too strict to keep up with for an extended period of time. Now I snack more on fruit instead of paleo baked goods/coconut icecreams. Actually my bf complained last night that I never make really interesting desserts anymore and that he’s sick of my stovetop berries. Sheesh! Still, there is always room for improvement.

      Rachel M wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • I read The Diet Cure by Julia Ross. It has questionnaires to determine where the imbalance is. All I had to add was L-Glutamine supplement in between primal meals to stop the sugar cravings. It worked well for me.

        ValerieH wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Maybe it’s time your bf made some interesting deserts then?

        :-)

        Primal-V wrote on July 4th, 2013
    • pepperming oil… lick one drop off your hand…it helps with sugar cravings.
      It is not fun to realize that you are being controlled by single cell creatures like yeast that need that sugar to survive. The acid condition it creates gives life to a multitude of organisms that wouldn’t live in you if you were more alkaline. As a small microcosm of the macrocosm we are a unified field of many living entities with their own agenda -not a popular concept.

      junebug wrote on July 5th, 2013
  7. Uh, timely much? Not more than 10 minutes ago I just updated my FB status “Will I ever catch up to my brain??”

    Karrie wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Nice shout to AOM!

      Nathan wrote on July 5th, 2013
  8. My best antidote for stress in general is volunteerism, it gets me out of self-centeredness. If I’m thinking about someone else’s welfare, I’m not too concerned about my own plans and schemes.

    My own personal stress producer is in the workout department. I’m not successful at creating and maintaining a workout schedule without paying money for it. I can plan and intend to workout, either at home or the gym, and then the moment comes and the internal argument begins, “You need the sleep”, “You can do it tomorrow”, etc. Once the argument begins, I’ve lost. There have been times where I’ve been able to succeed, but it’s not consistent. My motivation is the desire to be stronger, but my willingness to do the work is lacking.

    wendy wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  9. Love this article. Thanks for writing. Lately I have adopted saying the Lords Prayer over & over when my brain won’t stop. I’m thinking any healthy poem or some affirmation to recite would be good. I just chose the Lords Prayer because I know for me – God comforts & calms my fast moving brain! It’s amazing how fast I fall asleep – usually before I finish the first time through.

    dr greta wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I have an older friend that told me once about all the things he’d stressed over in his life. He said, looking back on all those numerous times…financial problems, health issues, child rearing stuff, everything…he said you know what I’ve learned? He said, “I’ve learned that God is taking care of everything. And I’ve also learned that God is never a minute too early…but he’s never a minute too late either.”
      I repeat those words almost hourly some days. It’s a great reminder to me to just “calm down”!

      Dar wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  10. I would suggest looking into your whole self, read up on embodied cognition and the work of Feldenkrais and Thomas Hanna (Bodies in Revolt).

    Cheers,

    Luis.

    Luis wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Excellent recommendation! The Bible holds all the answers to any problem. When I am stressed and worried I have two passages I pray to myself. I then wait quietly for the peace that has NEVER failed me. Psalm 40:1-3. I waited patiently got The Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out if the slimy pit, out if the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
      Faith, Mark, will wipe away the stress you experience.

      Sister Sue wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  11. re stress and staying in the moment, try Holy Basil. I find it helps a lot. As for sugar cravings, I’ve read some stuff on lack of protein and/or lack of tryptophan being a cause. Have yet to look into this one though.

    Linda wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  12. I struggle with these things too – especially the stress management and staying in the moment. You don’t like meditation (me neither – so boring!), but what about Ashtanga or vinyasa-style yoga? I find that you can achieve a sort of meditative state as you flow through the postures. Over time, I’ve found that the focus on breathing and the present moment helps a lot with my stress levels and being present when I’m off the mat.

    Emily wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  13. For the carb cravers: glutamine (amino acid) can often stop crab cravings in their tracks: take one 500 mg. capsule and open it and put the glutamine powder under your tongue. It stops cravings instantly in many people. (Note: bipolar people may not want to use glutamine as it can affect the manic stage). Julia Ross uses this in her clinic.
    @Mark: Being in nature IS a form of meditaiton. I see meditation as something you do to quiet your mind. So yes, you can be seated in a lotus position with your eyes closed, focusing on a mantra, or you can be staring at a candle flame, or doing a walking meditation out in Nature, or listening to music or any of numerous other possibilities! :)

    SarahB wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  14. Interesting – I’ve had success in this area, and though part of it is getting older, you have to become ‘mature’ on purpose, to some extent. Having a dog helps – he gets a solid hour of play in the park every day, and it’s pretty hard to not to benefit as we stand around while that goes on.

    I think for most of us, once the perspective gets skewed/stressed, it’s easy to let it self-perpetuate. I think I have more small tactics than grand strategies – I wait before I say the next thing; I just do something – anything – to feel progress (empty dishwasher, throw something away, make a list…); I try to breathe out a little more slowly than I’m breathing in, without going full-on “breathing exercise” about it.

    I also use music (singing, piano – both socially and solo), and knitting – but those wouldn’t work for everyone! Oh, and gardening. (Yeah, apparently, I’m all about the small tactics.)

    Sara in Brooklyn wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Hey, pulling weeds in the garden is ultimate stress therapy for me. Gets me in “green spaces” and I’m doing something productive at the same time. Even better, focusing on “is this little sprout a weed or a plant I want?” distracts me from everything else, especially when my oldest is on my last nerve. I’ve gone out and weeded by porch light before.

      b2curious wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Oh, yes, how could I forget garden therapy!!!! I actually have a headlamp so I can weed after dark when the heat & mosquitoes aren’t so bad. My kids think I’m nuts, but I’d be a lot more nuts without it! :-)

        Paleo-curious wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  15. Thanks Mark. I like that you gave what you do. What I do to stop what I call the “movie that is on an endless loop” as I lay in the dark NOT sleeping, has been several things. I tried to see mentally the color in my head just before I fall asleep, then looked for that color and painted the walls in the bedroom that color. Next I take a pro-biotic if I have any emotional issue like depression or anxiety. When I wake up at 3AM I massage the area in the the middle of my arm pits (feels like the top of my ribcage) – my chiropractor said that it helps to release the hormone that we should be releasing in our sleep to keep us asleep during that time, works for me. Next, I read a book that talked about how color had an effect on us, so I muscle checked myself to see if there was a color that would help me sleep through the night, for me it is orange. That still makes me chuckle a bit, wear that color when I feel restless and want to make sure I sleep. The last thing that helps is to allow myself to stay awake if I happen to wake up and not be able to sleep. I have F.lux on the computer so if I get bored I can read something without waking up the other people here who seem to need more sleep than me. In the morning light all that stuff that woke me up so I could worry about it doesn’t seem as worry-worthy after all – knowing that helps as well.

    2Rae wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  16. By some strange synchronicity I’ve recently been reading about Shinrin-yoku – which means ‘forest-bathing’ in Japanese. Going for a walk in the woods.

    Wikipedia: A forest bathing trip involves visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation while breathing in volatile substances, called phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees, such as a-pinene and limonene. Incorporating forest bathing trips into a good lifestyle was first proposed in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan. It has now become a recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity in Japan.

    Well worth a few minutes googling and potentially addresses stress management, staying in the moment, disconnecting from technology, and quieting the mind. I guess it would make it easier to say no if the other people can’t find you…

    DiscoveredJoys wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  17. Hi Mark, I recommend EFT for stress. I am a researcher and published a major triple-blind randomized controlled trial on the stress hormone cortisol, showing that EFT significantly reduces it. You can find it at Research.EFTuniverse.com. All the best!

    Dawson Church wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Electronic Fund Transfer as a stress reducer.. of course!

      Jim Haas wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • +1

        F Jeff wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • +1 for Tapping! Glad to see it mentioned here. Scientifically proven to reduce cortisol. My favorite for a quick tapping session to relieve stress is Brad Yates:

      http://www.youtube.com/user/eftwizard

      Bev wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I’m so glad that you popped up here, as I was thinking about your article about combining EFT and Meditation as soon as Mark mentioned Meditation. I’m not good at it either, as I am not a really “focused” person, but using EFT gives me something to “do”. Brilliant!

      NMCynthia wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  18. The other day I was sitting in a beautiful park next to a lake. My daughter was with me and wanting to play. My phone rang and I answered it. 20 minutes later it was time for us to go. My daughter had sat there patiently waiting for me to get off the phone the whole time. As we walked back to the car, she said to me, “Mommy, I have a new rule. No screens in Nature!” She was absolutely right – that phone call could have waited. We wasted 20 minutes of our lives sitting in gorgeous surroundings without really seeing or enjoying them. Because my daughters have recently had to abide by new screen time rules of their own, they relished giving us adults a consequence for screens in Nature. The rule: if you use a screen in Nature and it’s not an emergency… you have to have 24 hours of no screen time. Now this may not be realistic for adults, but I like the spirit behind it. Sometimes children are much wiser than we are. The point is to enjoy, relax or play in Nature not sit crouched with your phone glued to your ear. I learned my lesson!

    Phoebe wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  19. I agree that onne big problem is that our modern lives revolve around the necessity of making money, to pay for our lives. A problem that paleolithic man didn’t have. He had relatively straightforward tasks and obligations that he had been brought up with since childhood, around people who he knew well all that time. I wonder if the newer focus on the materialistic, along with the necessity to deal with strangers a lot, in very competitive environments, frequently confronting new (even unpleasant) tasks, is the other catastrophe of the Neolithic. As much as I personally like some of the outcomes of civilization (science and art), I doubt that it is, at least in its present form, how we were intended to operate.

    BillP wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Money is a creation that allowed the transistion from direct exchange (barter) to indirect exchange. Effort and time still goes into creating goods from resources. I am sure paleolithic people made stuff and bartered.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Native Americans used some sort of sea shell for currency. It was a lot of work because people had to dive deep or use contraptions to collect them.
        Mostly unrelated to that, I’ve learned some words that connect to my past in a surprising way.
        An adolescent/teen friend and I back in those days used to act, make noises, and speak sort of like Gollum in the forest. We did a lot of smashing dead branches off trees, taking down dead trees, and the like. General organic destruction. We both had our invented power words that we amped (spell check says this word doesn’t exist, and the closest to it is “aped” :P) ourselves up and amused ourselves with. His was, “Napata!” (pronunciation: nap-a-tuh) Mine was “Ishkini!” (pronunciation: ish-kin-ee).
        Turns out Napata was an ancient Egyptian city, nepeta cataria is the Latin name for catnip, and “ish-ke-ne”, according to the latest novel I’ve been reading (I, Tom Horn by Will Henry) is a Native American word for boy.

        Animanarchy wrote on July 10th, 2013
        • And today, in the shelter I’m residing in (court order… Salvation Army bail, for charges I’m going to take to trial or just get a mental health diversion for since they aren’t fair.. I have officially got a diagnosis of schizophrenia on my record; it’s in the government computer records; that is not bad; I may get a disability pension for the rest of my life because of it…. which means I would be getting more than enough cash with no “legitimate work” (ya know, a little secret vigilante activity (two is so minor… I’ve been slackin!.. gotta get cash for supplies and look up the closest offender registries :) and inspiring performances in parks and such for the local children and the older crowd as well even may not even count) to thrive for the rest of my days).
          Yeah, I know my internet activity is all spied on, why do you think I’m out on bail?

          Animarchy wrote on July 11th, 2013
        • Stuff typed sounds crazy. So much for copious amounts of alcoholic beverages and commenting = something to be more careful about in the future. Sorry about the mess.
          I felt I should clarify about the vigilante activity. I never actually “pulled the trigger” on somebody. Some of my actions seem to have had a similar or catalyst effect in a couple special cases though where people expired that I won’t go into detail about. Nonetheless, I take pride in the fact that I occasionally indulge in non-lethal vigilante activity (usually self-serving) including threats and violence.. not that I wouldn’t get downright deadly, but my DNA and fingerprints are on file, there’s cameras, cops and cop-callers everywhere etc. Most recently I had some altercations that I think may have resulted in someone having near-fatal heart attacks by exacerbating their condition. I feel like I did the five-finger-death-punch or something like that.

          Animanarchy wrote on March 9th, 2014
  20. Very helpful post, and thank you for that. (I am printing to keep as a reference.) I struggle with not being in the moment. I am very skilled at being present for my friends and loved ones, but I fret all day about the future of the planet (humanity actually) and the choices I am making or not making that can cause further damage. And the choices I observe others making. I fret mostly in silence now and am able to save high-anxiety feelings to share with those I know hold similar values.

    But, I have been spending more time thinking about this ‘in the moment’ problem. I feel an emphasis on this feeds (maybe consciously, maybe not) our tendency to not think ahead, to not consider consequences 1,2,100 years out. So I picture myself as part of a long timeline–actively crafting and enjoying present day events–ever mindful of those that will be in this same place sometime in the future.

    Peace.

    Angel D wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  21. This is my first post to you ever, but I feel so compelled to write.

    Regarding stress, I agree meditation is too formal. I struggle with that. However, practicing mindfulness is the key ( for me ). If my brain gets too busy, I am sad about something, or I need to de stress I turn to mindfullness.

    How to be mindful. Be as present to what you are doing as possible. Don’t think about the past or future. Concentrate on what you are doing at that moment. Example: I was doing dishes and I was stressed out about a few events happening. I decided to be mindful of doing the dishes. I looked at all the bubbles of the soap and how pretty they were. How neat the water comes out of the faucet, how shiney the plates got. Etc. this causes all the other stressors to go away.

    You can do it with TV, driving, anything. Ask yourself are you really aware of the stuff on TV or the stuff going in while driving ? Even being on the computer listen to the key strokes, focus on what you are doing on the computer.

    Things like this really make me feel like I am living and less preoccupied with my thoughts. I am ceasing moments that we all miss all the time. I never knew how awesome the formation of bubbles are !

    Hope this helps Mark and anyone else reading it !!!!

    Michelle wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I completely agree! I’m also a frequent MDA reader, but never posted anything until now. Formal meditation and cultivating mindfulness have been crucial to managing stress in my life. The research from John Kabat-Zinn & co. at UMass is quite compelling. I can’t help but suspect that the Primal Blueprint has helped lay the necessary bio-chemical foundations to really evolve and strengthen my mind.

      Yoga has also played an important role in my stress management (in addition to strength training). Although yoga is probably the opposite of a typical Grok activity, it is the only space where I’ve been able to keep my body and mind focused at that “edge” for an extended period of time.

      I’d love to see some studies done on the how the mind evolves on primal lifestyle in conjunction with yoga/meditation. Any one know of any out there?

      Wallace wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Taking up photography made me more mindful. The colour Green has never looked so vibrant. It’s like something physical changed with my vision

      leah wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  22. Yes, you can too be happy and peaceful. And it all is a (spiritual) journey that never ends (in this life), like you say. Read “Silence is the Answer to All the Noise of Doubt” by Robert Draper, or “Chop Wood, Carry Water” by the editors of the New Age Journal, or “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff)” by Richard Carlson. The most important thing I’ve done for my peace of mind is to forgive; myself, my father, all the people I’ve imagined ever did me harm. My guiding light is “A Course in Miracles”, the guidebook for the ages.

    Blessed be.

    Liza Ferrier wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  23. Meditation – I think it is too valuable to not use it – particularly in our stressful lives. Remember there are so many different techniques – one of them may be just the right one.

    For those of you who like nature or who are sitting a lot, how about a walking me ditation (15 to 30 minutes) – walking mindfully (slowly) focusing on each step looking at the environment, hearing the sounds, sensing the air and your breath. Other thoughts will come into your mind, just bring your mind back to focus on the walk.

    Barbara Kurtz wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • This is what I was thinking as well Mark. Meditation would “solve” three of the things on your list. It may be your opinion right now that it’s too formal but would you be willing to give up that opinion in order to not have 3 of those big struggles plus a number of other potential benefits?

      Also, as mentioned, there are many other types of meditation besides formal sitting. In fact Osho mentions a large multitude of types including some ranging from running to acting literally like a madman and dancing around. Some of these may be more up your primal alley!

      Dave wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Effortless meditation: Holosync.

        Nearly done with the complete program (about seven years). My sense of calm, ability to focus, and background feeling of peace and happiness are remarkable. For someone who fell into clinical depression and later became disabled (from a physical cause), this is a big deal.

        One must _practice_ meditation regularly in order for it to be effective. Listening to a brain wave entrainment CD every night while falling asleep takes no extra time, requires no traveling, no reading, no philosophizing. Just do it, like brushing your teeth. And observe yourself as the changes take hold. Wonderful stuff.

        framistat wrote on July 4th, 2013
        • +1 for holosync, but mainly as a tool to easily get into meditation itself as a beginner.
          for years i a had a intuitive feeling that meditation would be of huge benefit for me, but i couldn’t find a way into it. then i stumbled over holosync (fyi there are many other similar programs), and voila – i was meditating like a pro after only a few dozen holosync sessions. now i can dive into a deep contemplative state at will, within just seconds. holosync is basically a very interesting brain hacking tool based on the binaural beats principle. use it as a kick-starter for implementing and strengthening your own contemplative “brain power”. all in all: meditation is clearly the ultimative life hacking tool. what kind of meditation you shold start with mainly depends on where you are at at when starting. from there, let your intuition guide you. also, check out the “headspace” app as a great entry point into meditation.

          Paleologic wrote on July 3rd, 2014
  24. In essence this is the need for focus on the spiritual self. Formal meditation is a drag. Relax it up and just go with the flow of the.. well each must find their own way. Many paths. I suggest turning the feedback system around. Give feedback back to the thoughts occupy the mind.. More of these please.. less of these! please?.. try to get to a place were ‘please’ is not required and its just a basic post of information to .. well yes, your higher self which can be many labels things and concepts. Give it feedback to let it know clearly what it is you desire. This is the essence of gratitude. Its a feedback loop. Cheers to the greater self!

    nutcat wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  25. I’d noticed that if I played solitaire long enough on my laptop, eventually my “upper” mind completely focused on the patterns the cards were making, allowing deeper thoughts to come to the surface. These were thoughts I wasn’t aware I was thinking, but I obviously was. They were only drowned out by my noisy, busy upper mind.

    Since I tend toward the glaring-awake-in-the-darkness kind of insomnia, I tried playing solitaire in bed when I wanted to fall asleep. I play on an iPod Touch that’s purposely not connected to the Internet. The screen background is dull red and screen brightness is minimal.

    It works! Now my glaring eyes start to close within five to seven minutes. Sometimes I can barely set the device on the night table before I conk out.

    Maybe this will work for other people, too.

    Sally JD wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I don’t deal well with stress. I soak it up like a sponge and it gets buried somewhere inside me using up my energy in the process. I think this has been the cause of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Doing puzzles and computer games such as Mahjong and Solitaire seem to help. I used to comfort eat but since going Primal I don’t need that any more.

      Annakay wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  26. About the stress thing and “going out in nature”, I have really bad anxiety and it often prevents me from sleeping very well and cause sleep deprivation and all kinds of problem like that. I sometimes take melatonin to help me sleep if I’m really have trouble and I need to get up early, but I try to not take it as often as I can because I don’t want to become dependent on it to be able to sleep.

    I often find that taking a walk by myself late in the evening helps de-stress me and I sleep better. There’s a park near my house that has a huge field and tons of trees sand little wooded areas so it’s really nice. There’s also a train track that runs by it so I get to watch the train go by sometimes, which is fun. Also if I’m up to it I can use the play ground equipment to work out a little bit. : ]

    Paige G Olfert wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  27. Gee… you guys are way too self centered… just relax and smell the roses. We are not that important when we consider our place in the universe. Life is quite a miracle and we waste a lot of time trying to control it and what happens to us.

    When unhappy… be unhappy, when happy be happy…. just be one with it and stop trying to change things… go with the flow… bad days happen, embrace them…

    Don’t sweat the small stuff…

    Just my 2 cents worth…

    Serge wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Don’t worry, be happy. The incredible lightness of being. Easier said than done and that’s what Mark is expressing. Being conscious of the pitfalls is a good step. You are talking about acceptance and that is the key. Its not easy but we need to accept life as it is presented to us. I often wonder why I take life so seriously and why not lighten up. I do lighten up but its not on demand. It happens spontaneously. Is the seriousness caused by an existential fear that we all need to deal with?
      I recently finished Jim Harris’s book on freewill. It doesn’t exist. We are conditioned by the environmental factors of our lifes and our choices come forward out of that conditioning. The little changes one makes today will determine future change. Our degree of freedom is relative to being conscious that freewill doesn’t exist.

      kniehoff wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • “We are not that important when we consider our place in the universe.” You mean like the Total Perspective Vortex?

      Thomas wrote on July 3rd, 2013
      • Lol :-)

        I’m still so sad that we lost Douglas Adams so young :-(

        Primal-V wrote on July 4th, 2013
    • I hear what you’re saying Serge, but I don’t think it’s self-centeredness, necessarily. It takes “practice” to “not sweat the small stuff” or even the big stuff. Each time you get sucked into your own thoughts, problems, etc. you have to “practice” pulling yourself out of it. People use different techniques and all of them are valid. As we experience life and get better in this “practice” then things get easier and less stressful.

      Ara wrote on July 4th, 2013
  28. Hi Mark, I’m a long time fan of the blog and I also feel you pain.

    I’ve been wrestling with the same problem in relation to stress and recently I’ve had a minor breakthrough, I like all of the suggestions that you’ve made about managing the stress.

    I found that most of my own stress was caused simply because I hadn’t made my mind up about the actions that I wanted to take on the things that mattered to me in my life. Now that I’ve found at least one way to do this I have a lot more time and a lot more success.

    Simple write a bucket list of all the important decisions that you want or need to make in your life from the big things like “do I want to move home” to things like “how can I organize my shed/ office!”
    Once you have a list put a due date for each one similar to goal setting, it should be obvious when you need to make a decision on something urgent and when something is over the horizon.
    When the time comes to tackle one simply write the issue in the form of a question i.e. how can I organize the garden shed, next list all of your options even if they seem bad as long as its an option list it.
    Next put each option as a heading and work through the pros and cons, once you’ve finished this you’ll know which choices are the best ones and you’ll stop worrying about other things as you now know what to do even if you didn’t want to do it.

    Anyway give it a try if you find time, its still a work in progress but I’ve had some amazing result, me and my fiance will be setting off to the philippines to get married in 2015 and invest as it really does make the most sense based on our information at the moment. I’ve made a ton of really important decisions which I was either putting off or didn’t even know where bothering me. This is probably better for motivation and being able to function well even when stressed as you always have your road set out in front of you.

    Stay well because when I do chose to read blogs on Paleo eating/ living I think yours are the best!!!! Very inspiring.

    Christopher wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  29. Great article and all good thoughts and coping mechanisms. Praying and being close to God is such an easy fix to all of this anxiety but people forget to look there. God designed us to be happy – it’s written all over the Bible that fear and anxiousness is not want God wants for us. Try 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. Then many others such as: Matthew 6:31-34, Matthew 10:28-31, Romans 8:28, Phil 4:6, Eccl 11:20, 1 Peter 5:7, John 4:18, Psalm 55:22. Turn to prayer, bible study and God daily and you may find a much easier fix than you think is even possible! With love for you all!

    julie wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • I read this and have advice for Mark.
      As an experienced twice daily meditator of 40 years I can say you get tangible results very quickly, but they aren’t going to be as impressive as you expect because in our daily life we’re used to big, quick, impressive results, or none at all.
      It’s kinda like changing to a Paleo Diet. You don’t drop weight and feel much better in a week, but over time you notice big changes and when you look back in a year…wow.
      Meditation is like that.
      I’d have advised him to go ahead and do the ‘going out into nature thing’ but also start a regular program of meditation as in time it will be a real sea-change of stress reduction for him, with added health benefits along the way.

      Gary Vitullo wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Mat 11:28-30

      Victory wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  30. Driving in traffic…will I ever stop cursing to myself about the stupid drivers? That’s my biggie. Always working on it with not much progress.

    Nocona wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • That one is tough. I finally had to realize that I was allowing other people to control my emotions. I’m not going to change other drivers, the only thing I can do is control how I react to them. This realization came one day when I was on my way to the bank to sign some paperwork. I’d left later than I intended, and every idiot driver on the road seemed determined to be in front of me! Then I remembered that the last time I’d been in a bad mood and a song on one of my CDs (Burn it to the Ground by Nickelback) had put me in a better mood, so I set the CD player on repeat, on that song, and by the 3rd time through, all was right in my world. I was still running a few minutes late, there were still idiot drivers in front of me, but they didn’t bother me anymore. I also remember that I have, on occassion, made stupid mistakes on the road myself. Yeah, I still get annoyed at some drivers, but I’m much better at just letting it go.

      b2curious wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  31. “The Work” of Byron Katie is excellent, excellent for understanding and shedding stress. We tend to think that stress is “out there in the world” and it comes and lands on us. Not so: we create our own stress by how we react to what lands on us. On her Facebook page recently was “I have had the privilege of losing everything.” This is a perfect example of how to not have stress. Of course it is a life-long practice, like anything worthwhile.

    Sanas wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  32. Profound! The angst and anxieties of life control so much of how we perceive our lives. A big help for me was to stop watching television. Information overload had me stressed to the max. And realizing that all we really have is the present moment…stay in the present. Read Ekhart Tolle.

    Larell B. wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • +1 to the not watching television!

      Elizabeth wrote on July 4th, 2013
    • I stopped watching the news a couple of months ago. After two weeks it was very obvious that all of the bad news and negativity was adding precisely nothing to my life to make it better. Now I use the time to relax, exercise and use my my brain, even if its just doing some chores around the house.;)

      Chris wrote on July 4th, 2013
  33. So glad to see this post! No one is immune or invincible to the everyday struggles, no matter how put-together or fabulous their life looks to the outside world. Thank you!

    Paula wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  34. I went wibble 13 years ago as a result of work related stress through bullying by some of my seniors. Drugs did nothing, I had to leave that job before I started to recover.

    I did a lot of thinking, listening to classical music while I walked in the fresh air and reading personal development related books.

    THE ONE that had greatest influence on how I deal with stuff is The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama written up by Howard C. Cutler. ISBN 978-0-340-99592-1 and I commend it to you.

    Nigel wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  35. Good article Mark,
    One trick I’ve learned over the years helps greatly with stress, but is also useful for training me to either stay in the moment or switch my brain off is to do something that’s technically demanding. There’s many ways to do that; a few of my favorites are rock and ice climbing, riding my motorcycle (fast!) on winding roads, technical trail riding on my mountain bike and sea kayaking when things are not ultra calm. What these activities seem to do is switch off the ability of your brain to multiplex between different tasks and thought processes. You are so involved in the activity of the moment that you become incredibly relaxed and at one with the task in hand. I have often spent hours at sea in rough conditions without noticing the passage of time. In ice climbing circles there’s the notion that the two people on the rope experience the passage of time at different rates; the leader thinks he spent 10 minutes on a difficult pitch, while the second guy thinks the hour he spent standing there was more like two.
    Your idea of getting into nature to help you deal with unavoidable stress can be made even more effective and provide longer lasting stress relief if you spend that time doing something your brain can’t opt out of for even a second.

    Sandy Templeton wrote on July 3rd, 2013
    • Try fly fishing Mark.
      Done correctly, the rest of eternity melts away and nothing else exists.
      You might even catch some fish.

      Chris wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  36. I have found one if those binaural CD’s or downloads–there are several companies that make them–are an excellent short cut to a meditative state and stress reduction. You have to listen to it with headphones/earbuds but it can knock my ass back down to calm in 20 minutes even if I’m upset over something.

    Kat wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  37. I struggle with finding a paleo solution to the Jewish problem. ;)

    ENM wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  38. I have found that using the 4 questions that Byron Katie discusses in her book, ” Loving What is” has allowed me to find answers to the issues you mention. I would be interested to see what you think of the approach. My guess is that it would fit nicely with your outlook. I am familiar with the suggestions made by others above and have found that the effectiveness of all of them are greatly enhanced when I use what Byron Katie calls The Work (the 4 questions), as my basis. Let me know what you think, if you decide to check it out. Thanks, Bruce

    Bruce wrote on July 3rd, 2013
  39. Eating too much, failing to feel content with less food and just being happy with the body I have instead of striving for the body I really want. That constant feeling of failure and not measuring up to the standard. Can’t fast, can’t eat low carb, can’t drop fruit…. Feeling that I am made all wrong.

    leida wrote on July 3rd, 2013

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