We’ve all heard (and don’t forget experienced!) that major life changes like getting married, giving birth, moving or starting a new job can be unbearably stressful. But it isn’t always the big transitions that take the heftiest health toll. Day-to-day stress – the kind you ignore that accumulates over time – can create detrimental health effects on your body.
So, the next time you begrudgingly roll out of bed at 6 a.m. because you’ve got two kids to feed and drop off at school before you head into the fray of congested traffic and board meetings, think about taking time to undo all the pent-up tension with some of the terrific tips that can be found at the following handy websites. 20 minutes a day of “love insurance” (as in lovin’ your own life!) makes all the difference!
My favorite suggestions from around the web this week:
“Talk to yourself.”
“Attempt to Control Absolutely Everything.” (They’re kidding, of course.)
“Enjoy Life’s Little Luxuries”
Fight Stress! (Who’s biased?)
“Be passionate – About how your work improves people’s lives.”
Your Brain on Multi-Tasking
Technorati Tags: stress
The Tuesday 10
It’s easy to get lost in the details – organic or local? wild or farmed? fresh or frozen? – and to me it seems like the majority of health news out there is just obsessing over the minutiae. No wonder we give up and go back to our old habits.
The little things can matter, but on balance, it’s the consistent application of a few simple lifestyle changes that count. Make a few very basic – but significant – healthy changes, and the little things tend to take care of themselves. Or no longer matter so much.
Here are ten simple steps to better health that you can implement, starting right now:
10. No More Rules
First things first: no more worrying about the so-called Holy Grails of Health. Here’s what I’m talking about: Water. Coffee. Breakfast. Sleep. Following the pyramid. Fat. Sunlight. These supposed hard-and-fast rules of health cause more stress than the actual things. How about trusting your body enough to know what’s right for you? You’re up for the challenge, I guarantee it.
9. 90/10 or 10/90?
A lot of us focus on rules, numbers or specific amounts in an attempt to lose weight and feel healthier. We vow to eat a certain number of calories, for example. Even Uncle Sam falls for the magic of numbers (the failed 5-a-day vegetable campaign that is now being retired). But getting healthy is about being healthy. 90% of your regular habits and 10% of healthy habits added to that is just not a recipe for health. It’s got to be the other way around.
8. Eat something green at every meal.
Pretty easy! It should be at least half of the portion size, plate, cup…
7. Absolutely cut out the sodas and sugary drinks.
Yup, they have to go.
6. Don’t eat anything that comes in a box, bag or package.
I’m not talking about a bag of frozen broccoli or a jar of almonds. I’m talking about processed, packaged, preserved foods. This is a big commitment. It is tough. But there is just no way you can be as healthy and fit as you want if you don’t stick to this most of the time. You can cheat (we all do). But keep that 90% in mind. Keep it fresh.
5. Eat meat that isn’t so processed.
Vegetarians don’t have to worry about this too much (unless you’re eating lots of processed mock meats). Fresh, clean, lean chicken and fish is going to do wonders for your health in the long run – you’ll help prevent cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. Sausage, bacon, deli meat, processed meats, on the other hand? Carcinogen special.
4. Eat a salad – every day.
So, I’m a little obsessed with my daily salad. But it’s such a no-brainer! You can even enjoy some goodies on it (nuts, a little cheese, dressing). Who said humans were meant for burritos and sandwiches?
3. Fight stress.
Whether it’s with a run, meditation, yoga, prayer, or a hot bath, find something that makes you feel completely relaxed, and do it a lot. Think of it as your 20-minute love insurance – as in loving your own life! Do this consistently for two weeks – most of us don’t commit to making ourselves feel great on a long-term basis. Try this out, and you will feel flat amazing. It may be the most important thing for your health.
2. Rethink the workouts.
Don’t do it if you even remotely dislike it – you won’t stick with it (who would?). My secret? Just put those sneakers on – that’s literally 90% of the battle. So, don’t think “I have to work out!” Instead, think, “I have to put my shoes on!”
1. Don’t worry.
Most of the stuff circulating in the media is old news with shiny new sprinkles on it. Or it’s based on a press release or a biased study. I’m not saying you should ignore information – by all means, educate yourself. But the general idea with a lot of “news” is to frighten the living daylights out of you so you’ll buy something. You’re doing pretty well, actually. So don’t worry – just keep learning and doing new things. It will all add up.
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Soothe your stress: restrain any road-rage tendencies this week. Put yourself in the other person’s bucket seat. Find a better outlet for any pent-up frustration (it’s amazing how good it can feel to teach a big batch of vegetables a thing or two – chop them up and into the wok they go). If that’s too domestic for you, get outside and go for a run, or pump your favorite music.
Still fuming? Yell about it with a friend until you both start laughing. Channel your anger into humor, amusement, indignation, and positive energy. A little anger is perfectly normal and O.K. – if you express it and use it properly.
Kill ‘Em With Kindness
What is it with road rage? I get a big kick out of people who aggressively tailgate (the gals) and cut me off (the guys). Well, I get a kick out of it to the extent that I can while attempting to make it to the store in one piece. And I have to admit, I do get immense personal satisfaction out of not getting too riled up over these nitwits who feel a few inches of steel turns them into invincible tank lords (uh…hi, I can still see through your windows, genius).
Nothing kills ‘em quite like kindness.
And laughing it off – or at least letting it roll off if you can’t quite summon a smile – seems to have a ripple effect on everyone you come across. This is my own personal study, of course, but I believe it works. When I start my morning right – not just when things are going well but especially when things are not – the rest of the day manages to work out a lot better.
Dry cleaner stained your clothes? Bank line taking forever? Waiter messed up your order? Try laughing, smiling and making a joke of it. It’s amazing what happens: the first thing you’ll notice is the incredible relief flooding the other person’s face. They’ll bend over backwards to fix it (and if not, well, you tried). The next time you stop in, you’ll be treated like royalty.
It’s so easy to get frustrated – we’re in a rush, we’re stressed, we need it now! And it’s tempting to vent and make demands, especially with service staff, because frankly, we can get away with it. After all, we have a right to be pissed off. But no one – most importantly, not even you – walks away happy.
It’s not news, but it’s a good reminder every now and again.
Just watch out for the 16-year-old in his mama’s Escalade. Sometimes there’s no helping that one.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
News to click before you sneak out of the office for the weekend.
Funny, we remember it was only a year ago that the government was emphatically denying any mad cow problems in the U.S. Then, the Alberta beef contamination scare hit. (And about a million conspiracy theories.) Next, we witnessed a spate of food poisoning incidents in everything from spinach to peanut butter. Surely something is going on, because now this protocol is scheduled to begin. Dare we say…progress?
Burger suppliers are in a twist because they don’t want inspectors dropping by unannounced – they like the current system of self-policing and occasional inspector
wink-winks check-ins. Well, yeah, who wouldn’t? Strangely, even consumer advocacy groups are taking issue with this new risk-based protocol (they say it’s all happening too fast). We’re starting to think it’s not the cows who are mad.
We’ve been bringing you news on trans fat for several months now, Apples, and here’s the latest from the fryer:
NYC, Philly, and L.A., plus an entire state – Massachusetts – are working to ban trans fats. Fabulous. (Well, actually, Los Angeles is merely reminding everyone they never ate trans fat to begin with.) But we digress.
There’s a growing problem with the trans fat furor, and it highlights a problematic issue with Americans and our health efforts. We tend to gravitate to “super” foods, “miracle”nutrients and “perfect” new diets, rather than following a generally healthy diet of moderation. By the same token, we ridicule, ban and boycott newly-discovered unhealthy foods and ingredients with a level of collective loathing only outdone by our feelings about garden slugs.
To wit: we’re now banning trans fats, but eating the same old garbage. It’s taken about three seconds for restaurants and food companies to create reasonable fat substitutes for trans fat. Notice, no one is getting rid of the French fries, potato chips and pastries; we’re just using a different fat. Trans fat may be going the way of skinny jeans, but the same old fattening, sugary junk is still lining shelves and spilling out of drive-through windows everywhere.
“Trans fat-free chips” may sound great, because we know trans fat is bad, but that doesn’t make the chips any healthier to eat.
Women and Depression
Though recent studies have confirmed that just as many men suffer from depression as women (they’re just less likely to seek help), depression manifests in different ways depending on gender. One possibility: depressed women may self-medicate with alcohol more intensely than men. It’s difficult for scientists to pinpoint, because it’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma. Does depression cause alcoholism or does alcoholism cause depression? Or are they simply manifestations of a single root health issue?
(Christy Thompson photo)
A completely unscientific observation from Sara and Jen: it does appear that women’s television shows are featuring heavy drinking more frequently than ever. Sex in the City was well-known for its endless cocktails – hey, it made Cosmopolitans famous. But shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Men in Trees and others feature stressed-out young women pounding shots whenever they’re upset (didn’t it used to be ice cream?). Scientists do say that when it comes to drinking, women are “keeping up” with men in increasing numbers.
What do you think, Apples?
Web it out:
Vegan Lunch Box turned us on to this great article about the difference between soda and fruit juice (the answer: not much). The article isn’t brand-spanking-new, but since the unethical bloodsuckers over at Capri Sun and Sunny D are still raking in the cash, it could use a little clickativity. Spread the word, Apples.
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