July 03 2013

5 Things I Still Struggle With

By Mark Sisson
199 Comments

Can Not Can't 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!

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199 thoughts on “5 Things I Still Struggle With”

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  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.

    1. 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

      1. 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. 😉

        1. 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).

      2. 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.

      3. 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

        1. 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……..

      4. 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!

      5. 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,

    2. 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.

      1. Wow! I like that theory. I call the core my zen. Makes sense in many ways.

      2. 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

  2. You can also delegate if you’ve got someone to delegate to.

  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.

  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.

    1. 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 (:

      1. @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.

      2. 15 min a day works wonders 🙂 and a little motivation can be good. Thanks for sharing!

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. you can also take passiflora incarnata…passionflower tincture …it is specific for turning off the monkey mind

  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.

    1. 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

      1. 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!

    2. 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.

  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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

        1. 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.

      4. 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.

      5. 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 🙂

    2. 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?

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. Maybe it’s time your bf made some interesting deserts then?

        🙂

    5. 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.

  7. Uh, timely much? Not more than 10 minutes ago I just updated my FB status “Will I ever catch up to my brain??”

  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.

  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.

    1. 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”!

  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.

    1. 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.

  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.

  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.

  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! 🙂

  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.)

    1. 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.

      1. 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! 🙂

  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.

  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…

  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!

    1. 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!

  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!

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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?

        2. 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.

  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.

  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 !!!!

    1. 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?

    2. Taking up photography made me more mindful. The colour Green has never looked so vibrant. It’s like something physical changed with my vision

  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.

  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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

        1. +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.

  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!

  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.

    1. 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.

  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. : ]

  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…

    1. 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.

    2. “We are not that important when we consider our place in the universe.” You mean like the Total Perspective Vortex?

      1. Lol 🙂

        I’m still so sad that we lost Douglas Adams so young 🙁

    3. 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.

  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.

  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!

    1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

  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.

  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.

    1. 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.;)

  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!

  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.

  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.

    1. Try fly fishing Mark.
      Done correctly, the rest of eternity melts away and nothing else exists.
      You might even catch some fish.

  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.

  37. I struggle with finding a paleo solution to the Jewish problem. 😉

  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

  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.

  40. My best de-stressors are nature and music. One day at work, things were particularly stressful, both due to work and some things going on at home. Knowing about “green spaces” being good for reducing stress, and borrowing an idea from the comic strip “Rose is Rose” I final went out the back door of the office, with a cup of coffee (which relaxes me), and literally leaned up against a small tree. (Rose has a “let it be tree” that she leans on from time to time.) I literally had as much of me in contact with the tree as possible, with branches around my head and shoulders. After about 5 minutes, I was much, much calmer, and able to deal with the rest of my day. As I mentioned in an earlier post, pulling weeds in my garden is also good.

    As for music, I love hard rock. Some aggressive, pounding rhythms and vocals, and I’m a happy camper. It usually leaves me energized and in a good mood. (I like other types of music too, but my favorite genre is hard rock.) My teenage daughter on the other hand, while she enjoys hard rock as well, listening to too much of it makes her angry and depressed. The upbeat pop, especially Indie-pop that my daughter uses to get in a good mood, is often like nails on a chalkboard to me.

  41. I struggle with the stress thing too, I tried using different apps on my phone to help me with it but couldn’t quiet get the hang of it. Recently, in the last 2 weeks husband and I discovered a walking track near our apartment which is amazing! It’s so peaceful and different to the block of apartments we live in, so for the past week I’ve been going for a walk every morning for 30-40 minutes and incorporate my meditation into my walk, I stop and take deep breaths and enjoy the beautiful scenery. I also struggle with the ‘turning my brain off’ it feels like right as I’m about to hit the sack my mind is going a million miles an hour, I’m going to start some relaxation exercises in bed to see if that will help.

    p.s. It’s good to know you’re human too 🙂

    1. The relaxation exercises should help, but they’ve got to be something that relaxes you, and you’ll need to give them time. I used to have a lot of trouble getting my brain to quiet down so that I could sleep, until I used some relaxation exercises. I found that they took several tries to even have any effect at all, but that it got better with practice. Now, I rarely use them and my husband is jealous of my ability to fall asleep in no time at all. If I lay down with my youngest, while she falls asleep, I often have to be woken up to go to my own bed, because I fell asleep before she did.

  42. I try to do, eat, think, sleep, exercise, and pray, sometimes failing, and yet these shortcomings stay in perspective when I consider people who are being sold the Lie and are suffering terribly. You all have your own story. I was in a supermarket in a developing country and lining the shelves were large containers of vanaspati, touted as a healthier ghee replacement and used widely. Vanaspati is hydrogenated “vegetable oil,” ranging from 5 to 27% trans fats, depending on the manufacturer. Most people wholeheartedly believe this is saving them from heart disease and no longer use ghee. A seminar I gave provided the opportunity to add to the existing voices there in sharing the dangers of trans fats and to give an overview of healthier eating in general. Further opportunities to effect change in that country occupy my thinking in balance with everything else, which has added to greater contentment: it’s not just about “me” anymore.

  43. Oh Mark! As a pastor and working fulltime as a tech writer and web content writer the one thing I have to change is allowing work to get in the way of workouts!

    I go through periods of slumps where I stay working thru lunches and skip my runs. I’ve tried running while working on the laptop but my keyboarding comes out looking like this:

    AOIVRvuby;av;oiy:G F:OA*W7q23834vb-

  44. Embrace ambiguity. Let go. Focus hard on the process to achieve the outcome…but not so much on the outcome. Be like water and flow around the rocks. Leave the mobile phone at home when you go out. Don’t use your ipod every moment on the way to work. Pay attention. Wash the dishes with the same focus as rock climbing or motorcycle riding.

    These are not hard things to describe. It takes practice. Forgive yourself for whatever you perceive to be your shortcomings and forgive others for what you perceive to be theirs. Be of good cheer. Be of good cheer. Be of good cheer.

  45. Mark,
    Thanks for sharing. I experience exactly the same things. My biggest notice is my inner dialogue. If I find myself composing a response (usually a speech) in my head, I know that I am not doing myself any good. Talking to someone needs to be a two way street. Any conversation I make up beforehand will not fit the situation.

  46. Same kind of stuff for me. But the worst was the middle of the night thinking. BAD insomnia, which sets you up for failure. Great sleep being the foundation for everything. The two bits of advice that quite literally saved my life….

    Its ok to notice the “numbers” just REFUSE to do the “math”.
    (I personally do this by focusing on some benign sensation like the sound of my husband breathing- he doesn’t snore;) , I fall right to sleep.

    2. “life is so amazing and exciting and troublsome and there’s so much to think about and solve, but its important to realize that 2am is not the right time for this”. (it seems silly your say, but all you really need to do is tell yourself “STOP”. Its actually pretty easy)

  47. Nature and mindfulness and knowing when to turn your brain off. You have named the 3 that help me to cope. (a) Get out in nature – take a run on a beach, or around a pond, or in the woods, or ride your bike. (b) Focus on breathing and being here now. Imagine a 30-minute guided tour of yourself from toes to head, breathing steadily through the whole thing, shutting out random thoughts. And (c) simply welcoming the chance to tell your mind to back off – it’s your mind, it’s what got you where you are now, but in this 24/7/365 news cycle world we inhabit, with constant access to technology and e-mail and i-everything, your mind doesn’t know that it, too, can take time off. Encourage it. Sweating through an hour of hard physical exercise while listening to good music, played loud, does that for me. Thanx!

  48. Thank you for sharing the things you still struggle with, Mark. It’s refreshing when people can see that their health coach, nutrition expert, health guru, etc. is human – we struggle with things too. Experiencing and learning from our own personal struggles or weak spots helps us be better coaches for our clients. And I think it helps us go deeper within ourselves to figure out why we still have these struggles with things that we might like to move away from. The work is very enlightening! Wishing you comfort and ease on these things you still struggle with, Mark.

  49. Great post!

    I struggle with most of these. With the electronics, it isn’t wikipedia though… it is Stumbleupon. Such a timewaster!

  50. All these sleepless people. I was one too. My story for years sounded just like all of yours. Crossword puzzles, sudoku, computer games. Sometimes I would wake up at 2:30 and get back to sleep about 5:30 to 6:00 AM and sleep until 11:00 AM (I am retired and can do that if I want to)

    A couple of weeks ago a friend gave me a grounding/earthing 1/2 sheet. Since using it I go to sleep quickly, and stay asleep and if I do wake up I go right back to sleep quickly and now I am getting up earlier and feeling rested and great when I wake up and ready for the day. I also find my mind more clear and focused during the day. I recommend you getting informed about the sheet and/or other grounding/earthing devices and see if it might be in your best interest to invest in one of them.

    I put my sheet on the bed head to toe. Then the last few days I started sleeping on it almost in the nude and am getting faster and better results. I had some neck issues after getting an electrical shock almost 2 years ago and it had bothered me a lot and Magnesium gel helped the most, but since using this earthing sheet, my neck is a lot better and I am looking forward to when it is no longer causing me discomfort.

    I hope this does not sound like an advertisement, because it isn’t. I am just excited about how this simple tool has enhanced my life.

    Since finding Paleo and Mark’s Daily Apple 2 years ago I have lost 93 lbs and enhanced both my physical and mental health. And they say that the older you get the harder it is to loose weight. Another “Big FAT Lie”. My whole life has changed, thanks to Paleo and Mark.

  51. I always thought of meditation as “too formal” as well… and then I read Chade-Meng Tan’s “Search Inside Yourself” which turned it into a far more casual and realistic practice for me.

    Sounds like you have part of the key nailed down in that you cannot prevent thoughts from arising but rather need to accept that they are there, acknowledge them, and not feed them unless you consciously choose to do so. Same goes with the stress we create for ourselves 😉

  52. Thank you for a great article. I would like to mention that there is an orgie of scientific evidence documenting the effectiveness of the “TM” meditation (transcendental meditation) technique,
    -when it comes to dealing with stress. Over 600 studies, done in universities in over 60 countries, is gathered for your convenience in 6 large book volumes. Of these 600 studies, 160 are published peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    Its an effortless mental technique you practise for 15 min in the morning and evening its derived form the 7000 year old ancient vedic culture. You can learn the technique throug a 7 step process for a 1500 USD investment. Once you learn it, you can use this total badass ninja technique for dealing with stress, and other issues, for the rest of your life..I highly recommended it to anyone, this is the Rolls Royce of meditations, unlike mindfulness, and other practises, you do nothing..its without effort.. the technique calmly helps you deal with stress and other issues… You can learn TM through a standardised 7-step process, in any city throughout the civilized world.

    You write that it can take months or years to be effective when dealing with stress…in my experience with TM its more accurate to say that the effects are either imidiate, or happen within days. For severe pronged stress to be realesed it naturally takes longer.

    I think looking at TM, in the context of you story in very appropriate,. In fact the combination with TM and a primal exercise and nutritional philosophy – is nothing more than a extremely powerfull match.

    The primal philosophies make our animistic half, our bodies, work more smoothly…while TM manages the other half, the non material part…by dealing with the minds continuous mindless chatter. Its a little pricy, but its all worth it, in fact or me its worth much more:)

    Google “David Lynch + tm”, or
    “Howards Stern + tm + mother”
    for some great talks on the subject 🙂

    BTW: There is one thing to read or talk about this, but it is something else to experience it, I would recommend anyone interested to make up their mind after having learnt the TM technique and experienced the meditation.

    🙂

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I agree with you all the way. For me meditation works immediate too. The best tool i have ever learned 🙂 and it is with me anywhere 🙂 Almost to good to be true! So simple and easy, and all these “struggles” just melts away 🙂

  53. Mark and others: my stress and anxiety has greatly diminished since I quit caffeine entirely.

    My experience is that people don’t want to admit that some stress and anxiety could be related to caffeine.

    It IS hard to give up. I quit for other reasons (money, wasteful packaging) but have been so relieved to sleep, to concentrate, and to not feel the urge to snack 24/7. Caffeine is a powerful drug. Even a little bit matters.

    Try two weeks with absolutely no caffeine (you must taper off if, so the whole test will be longer than two weeks). If you don’t see any difference, by all means, start back up. My experience is that life is a lot better without it.

  54. This is going to see fairly petty, but here’s one: appetite control. I’ve found that as a 170ish-pound male with a bf% of about 10 percent, I look and feel best when I consume 2,000 calories a day or slightly fewer, even on workout days (yes, calories matter once you’ve reined everything else in). Yet sticking to that calorie prescription continues to pose a challenge. Hoping to become a little more disciplined in the years to come.

  55. When it comes to stress, I find that there are three main categories that stress us out: people, circumstances, and uncertainty about the future.

    People can be really annoying, but there’s power in being able to forgive them and let things go. Unforgiveness is like a legal contract that you put on yourself as a promise to never ever forgive someone. We get the illusion that we’re holding that person to this contract too, but really, we’re the only one being harmed by this contract. When unforgiveness festers for years, to abolish the contract, it’s not enough to say, “I forgive you.” You have to close all the loopholes. You have to forgive the person for everything you’ve faulted them for in the situation (including how they made you feel and even unintentional harms), even if they don’t ask for forgiveness. Then you have to forgive yourself (for holding it against them, for falling for it, for annoying the person who annoyed you). I’m a Christian, so I believe the third step is to forgive God for the situation (for putting you through it, for not helping you in the way you expected, etc.). That’s the best way I’ve found to ease tensions in a lot of stressful relationships.

    Circumstances like having to pay the bills, having to write that final paper that’s due tomorrow, or a death in the family can be stressful too. Since I’m an awful procrastinator, projects stress me out a lot, but it helps me to remember that even though all kinds of circumstances HAPPEN in my life, I choose how I look at them. With projects, I can simply acknowledge that I’ve procrastinated a lot and now must do what I can to finish to the best of my ability. With deaths in the family, I can mourn for a while, but I have to choose to keep moving forward.

    As a college senior, my future is really uncertain, but everyone asks me the same question: “What are you doing after school?” The truth is, I don’t know. But I’m okay with that. So much can change from month to month, week to week, even day to day, that I can’t know what opportunities will arise between now and when I graduate. Honestly, my faith has also helped in this area because when I get stressed about my future, I can tell God about it and he hears it, keeps my concerns in mind, and reminds me that he’s got it all under control. Knowing there’s a God who listens to me and has got my back helps me to know that I don’t have to have everything perfectly set up for my future. Sometimes we have to just be okay with not knowing what our future holds. Worrying about it isn’t going to make us know any faster.

    Those are just my thoughts. I welcome any comments or questions!

  56. Way to put yourself out there Mark. it shows that even the most Primal/Paleo of us are simply human and are not perfect. As long as you are making strides to improve (which you clearly are) then give yourself a pat on the back for the effort. Good article!

  57. Great Post today. I struggle with the other side of sleeping. I fall asleep in about 30 seconds, but, once awake 2:30-4am most nights, my “monkey brain” kicks in and I can’t fall back to sleep. I get up and start my day. Oddly, I’m good until about 8:30p when I need to crash again. I think I actually need less sleep living the Primal Lifestyle. Any thoughts on this? Or advice for the early a.m. wake up?

  58. I, among a lot of others, also have the problem of thinking things through at bedtime. I noticed when I am active throughout the day I feel more ready for sleep and fall asleep faster!
    When I get stressed I immediately want to break down and eat ice cream and chips. It’s stupid but that’s how my family has always coped. I finally found out what helps relieve my stress that isn’t food: music, and strangely enough, shooting baskets. Learning new songs on my instruments or even just singing or humming out loud helps me to cope and it boosts my mood:) along with grabbing a basketball and dribbling and shooting it in the hoop, not to mention the fact you get to be outside in the sunshine!

  59. Simple…just live everyday like it is going to be the best day you have ever had! Also, make it a point to not let anyone else ruin your great day!!!

  60. It’s comforting to know that even Mark struggles as well 🙂 I’ve been struggling with stress and trying to keep the creative juices flowing lately, but I’ve had great success with scheduled day dreaming.

    I try to get in 30 min to an hour of book/computer/phone/text free day dreaming, prefferably in a park. This has done wonders for my anxiety and I’ve even had wonderful creative ideas pop into my head spontaneously during this time.

  61. I Must Disagree – for which I apologize.

    What you call ‘flow’ thinking I’ve always called “going into”. It’s a natural way of thinking for me, and enjoyable because I loose all awareness of the outside world. So it can be dangerous – don’t do it while driving. Yes, it reduces or eliminates current (now) stimulus and thus prevents added outside stressors but the thought stimulus is still being added. It’s still a left-brain state and does not reduce previous or future stress. That is done only by the stopped mind in meditation. This can sometimes produce the right brain all-in-one immediacy (immanance) of everything.

    Of related interest is an older book on the 7 types of thinking (can’t find it now), saying that different people receive the majority of their stimulus through different senses; e.g sculptors through their fingers (sense of touch). And my own experiences of living in different states of consciousness (of which there are at least 7) and in which in each state a different set of stimuluses are received and overall perception is changed.

    Also “The Origin of Conscousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” by Julian Jaynes. (First Edition preferred) and “The Life of the Mind” by Hannah Arendt.

  62. Your post was great read for myself. I’m a believer in mind over matter. I was faced with a unexpected situation when I came home one day where I had to be my own hostage negotiator saving my own life. It’s amazing how much stress the human body and brain can handle or is it how we handle that stress and thought process that gets us through life? Your post came at the perfect time. One thing that has greatly helped me is deep breathing yoga. Just a few 1-2 minute moves shift my mind out of the rewind of events from that day and back onto a more relaxing positive avenue, and allows my shoulders, neck, and body to feel relief from the tension that is building up. My Motto: Stay positive and keep smiling! We are all in this together.

  63. I’ve never been able to sit still for formal meditation but I have always struggled with anxiety & find much help in meditative techniques, mainly breath-awareness. Breathing out very slowly, I imagine the obsessive thoughts, worries, pains or negative feelings leaving my body. Then, breathing in deeply, I focus on what I hope to gain at that moment (whether courage, peace, comfort, forgiveness, energy… whatever). It really helps!

    Also I have to put in another good word for hoop dance. Focusing on learning new tricks, moving my body every which way, all the while enjoying my favorite music– never fails to make me forget the yammering monkey mind for a while!

  64. Thank you for your blog. I find that Reiki is a wonderful stress reliever. If you become a Level One student you can do self-Reiki.

    I have also found “Intentional Meditation” easier during a busy day than typical meditation.

  65. This isn’t very profound, but a trick taught to me by a writer friend has helped me cut down my computer time quite dramatically. It happens to be very low tech. Turn off your computer. Get a paper and a pen. Put them next to your computer. Every time you think, “I’ll just Google that,” jot it down. Eventually when you allow yourself some computer time, Google away. Not only do you not need to look everything up instantly, it really isn’t good for your brain or your stress or your time management. It’s a step towards taking control, not letting technology control you.

  66. Pressure only found in three things….tyres,inflatable balloons and bottles of propane!!!!

  67. Thank you Mark. I love your work.

    I agree completely with your “forest bathing”, or indeed any connection with nature as a magnificent tool to cope with the ambient stress of modern life.

    A practical tool I was given is the cup full/cup empty approach.

    Simply draw a cup graphic on a page and place all those thing which fill your cup on the left and all those that drain it on the right.

    Allocate times to each of those activities (being real and practical) and see that your inputs must total 51% or better, or your cup will eventually become empty.

    There are always things you can’t change, but many you can immediately or in the near future.

    You can break this down into any timelines that suit (days, hours) and even using this as a plan or template for new direction is therapy within.

    Appreciate all you do and hope this little post adds value to those who read it.

    XXX Dave

    PS Working on my Primal life and have dropped 23kg this year….a few tiny bounces as life does, but the direction is solid and the journey glorious 😉

  68. …my mind is like a steal trap…lol. I can also use my brain to “quiet” thoughts that tend to stress me. Makes me tired though. Then I sleep 🙂

  69. Have you ever tested yourself for genetic mutations linked to chronic illness, like MTHFR? My whole family has a variety of autoimmune diseases, and my husband has many of the same symptoms, in addition to ADHD type symptoms. We found out recently we all have MTHFR genetic mutations, which affect the body’s methylation processes. This side effects of having this problem can be anything from ADHD/ADD to anxiety and depression, mental illnesses, allergies, autoimmune diseases, pulomary embolisms, stroke, heart attack. The effects can run the gamut. Since our whole family started on a methylfolate formula, I have personally noticed myself having less distraction, anxiety, depression, and my other family members have experienced the same. Why not run a simple genetic 23 and me test on yourself for $99 or less and see if there is an underlying cause to these struggles? Once you get your results, you can run it through a free methylation analysis on genetic genie and get an idea of what is going on with your biochemistry. By adding certain supplements or foods into your diet, you can provide what your body is not able to take in, and provide the missing cofactors or nutrients it needs to complete the biochemistry cycles that are not working very well (or in some people, not working at all.). 23 and me is helpful to see what risk factors you have for certain chronic diseases, and you can also trace your ancestry through them, which is really cool. (by the way, I am not affiliated with this company. We ran a 23 and me on my autistic child and it was the best money we ever paid, because I got to the root cause of all his health problems, and it led to the rest of us finding out we had methylation issues too.)
    My background is a mother of two children with autoimmune encephalitis and autism, and I have had autoimmune disease all my life. We suspect my husband may have also had autoimmune encephalitis as a child. I have also dealt with lyme disease in one of my children. I have never seen anything help us as much as addressing methylation and MTHFR deletion.

  70. One strategy that has helped me slow down my brain in order to get to sleep is to mentally sound out each and every word that I’m thinking; so, instead of allowing the words to zip through my brain at lightening speed while I just get carried along from thought to thought, I force my brain to slow down by voicing, in my head, otherwise I’d disturb my spouse, the words carefully and distinctly. Oftentimes when I lose my concentration to forcibly slow my thoughts, they start zipping through again, but I just re-catch my thoughts and once again forcibly say the words slowly. Eventually it seems to force my brain to a much slower and relaxed pace and I fall asleep. It’s kind of like a “thinking in the moment” skill.

  71. Couldn’t agree more Mark. People need to get out into the wilderness, just as we evolved to eat a primal diet, we also evolved to live, play, hunt, gather, and everything else we humans do in the wilderness. If you truly want to get a release from modern life, go and learn some primitive life skills. Learn how to knapp flint into tools, learn how to erect a primitive shelter, learn how to make and use primitive tools and weapons. Learn how to hunt and gather for real, and then when the stresses of life become too great, just walk off into the wilderness and recharge your soul. Having this knowledge and skill also gives you a kind of freedom that is hard to describe, but it’s the knowledge that you are self reliant, that you dont need modern society and all of the bull crap that goes with it.

  72. Thanks to Mark for another great thought-provoking post.

    A tip I find works well when I can’t shut my head off when I need to sleep:

    First make sure you’ve a way of writing down anything that’s on your mind so you can let go of it. I always keep a pen and pad right by the bed.

    Then just focus on relaxing your eyes – right deep inside your eyes and you’ll be asleep in no time. Works for me always…..

    Take care all,

    Kate
    x

    P.S. I meditate too but people are right in what they say – there is no right or wrong way but you do need to find the right way for you – all you are trying to do is relax your mind and watch your thoughts. Being aware of your thinking is all that’s required. The rest of the healing takes care of itself. I don’t believe anyone can really stop thinking, unless you’re someone with lots of servants to take care of every single stressor in life for you. And then maybe you’d worry about losing your servants……!

  73. Sleep, its always been a struggle for me. I’ve tried everything and still can’t stay asleep for more than a couple of hours. I do manage ok in a constant state of tiredness, but always wonder how great it must feel to have a solid nights sleep…

  74. Notice how Mark didn’t say he had troubles getting to sleep… Don’t drink caffeinated beverages, stay away from milk or chocolate at night, they can also keep you awake. Don’t eat meat or heavy stuff after 8 pm. Exercise hard during the day. Dim the lights two hours before bed. Don’t watch TV or computer/cell phone products two hours before bed. These will all help people get better sleep and get to sleep faster.

  75. For those of you who were kind enough to give Mark some advice, feel free to now move to Roger Federer’s web site and give him some suggestions on how to improve his backhand. Next, I believe LeBron James needs help on his dunking technique 🙂

  76. “Our brains are us…” – this is something that may be up for debate! I recently read that scientists have not found anywhere in the brain that decision making takes place. So if our brains don’t make decisions, what part of us does? I’m thinking it’s our life force, and that this life force is what we are connecting with when we ‘turn off’ the brain as Mark describes in this article.

  77. I’ve used meditation, chigung, yoga, going for walks, reading the Tao teh Ching, watching youtube videos by Alan Watts an UG (not J.) Krishnamurti. I’ve done tapping, progressive relaxation, self hypnosis, massage. Best stress reducer of all … Jack Daniels.

  78. Managing stress is hard, there are so many responsibilities that one tries to accommodate in their lives without taking that “me” time that is really needed. Talking about your nature time helping with stress is really you taking some time for yourself doing something you love to do. Some people are able to combine productiveness with that me time, others may not take any time at all for themselves and cram too many things in that causes them to not get everything accomplished, which then drives guilt, guilt can drive procrastination about not getting it done, sweeping it under the rug so to speak, and that will compound the stress and guilt. Often when I am feeling stressed and I know that I will not have time for just me in a day, I will do that productive/me thing when I cook dinner, I know I have to cook something, why not make it enjoyable. Generally cooking a complicated and technically challenging meal, or something completely new will satisfy both my creative drive and piece of mind that I have delivered a healthy meal to me and my family. That sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, no matter everything else that happened gives me a sense of peace, then I return to the responsible things like dishes.

  79. I struggle with stress, too. I think the most helpful thing to remember is to not stress out ABOUT being stressed out. Somehow that works wonders. 🙂

  80. I use GPS4SOUL to help me de-stress, a free download from the app store it measures your pulse and provides various short guides some of which are beautiful music and pictures. Works for me, I always feel better for using it.

  81. Try Bach Flowers’ White Chesnut drops.
    White Chestnut
    “For those who cannot prevent thoughts, ideas, arguments which they do not desire from entering their minds. Usually at such times when the interest of the moment is not strong enough to keep the mind full. Thoughts which worry and still remain, or if for a time thrown out, will return. They seem to circle round and round and cause mental torture. The presence of such unpleasant thoughts drives out peace and interferes with being able to think only of the work or pleasure of the day.” – Dr. Edward Bach
    Keywords: Repeated unwanted thoughts, mental arguments, concentration, sleeplessness, insomnia.
    Human Indication: When you mind is cluttered with thoughts or mental arguments. You may be unable to sleep because of the thoughts.

  82. Stress Management
    Staying in the Moment
    Chill offline
    Say “No”
    Quieting the mind

    Better sleep
    Less cravings

    It all improves with meditation. It is as simple as that.

    Once you know how to do it, it is not boring or formal. It is sitting and experiencing anxiety and stress hormones leaving your body. It is simply amazing and it is the one thing which is more important to be in my life than the right diet. Just 5-20 minutes can change “the world” immensely.

    Stop searching for solutions outside yourself. Everything you need is right there inside of you. The happiness i get from meditation is the best driving force to “survive” – it gives me energy, positivity, creativity, focus, peace, etc etc etc.

    I just had to say this, as meditation is the closets to magic i have ever experienced. For me, meditation is to happiness what lifting is to big muscles.

    I am just 26 years old, learned meditation on a weekend course, took a 10 days vipassana retreat to get an intense start, and now have been meditating for 1-2 years, not even much or regularly. I have had all the problems mentioned, seriously, but meditation changed that 🙂

    I am actually a bit disappointed to read Mark’s article (which I never have been before) We are all different, especially diet-wise, but if there is one thing which i dare to recommend to everyone, it is meditation.

  83. I enjoy reading these posts in which Mark talks about his own life. I find it nice to learn a bit about the people I learn from.
    I dealt with a bit of restlessness yesterday in a good way. I left the computer for a bit to do some rooftop chilling. I did a standing jump from one to higher one that was a frightening distance and would have been a devastating drop, but it felt great. Then jumping back I landed in a shoulder/barrel roll and climbed down by sliding down a pole. It was fun and I returned to the PC feeling refreshed and more intent on focusing on the text in front of me.
    A little later in the day I was held in the local police station for really no reason (they said public intoxication, but I can handle my liquor.. it’s just the cops in this town all know me so sometimes it’s hard to avoid the lame cat and mouse game) and shamelessly hit on a cop. It was good stuff.

  84. Very honest post, Mark.

    Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5 are actually all the same thing = resisting the present moment, resisting what is.

    All stress comes from wanting things to be different to the way they are. Once you get that and realise that whatever is happening right now, in this moment, is ok, *including* your incessant thoughts or your self-distraction strategies, then you access inner peace. And then, paradoxically, the incessant thoughts cease to seem so important, and tend to fade, and the drive for distraction also lessens.

    And even if they don’t, that’s ok too.

    The present moment is all that we ever have. Making friends with it, accepting it EXACTLY as it is, is the key to peace and fulfilment.

    It’s a bit like this. If someone has a different opinion to you, thinking that they shouldn’t have that opinion will get you upset. Whereas once you accept that they have that opinion and it’s ok that they have it, you are a) not upset any more, and b) actually MORE able to take action to change the situation, if you want to, by calmly putting forward intelligent arguments, using humour to help them see a different point of view, or whatever. The paradox is that the more you accept the PRESENT moment, the easier it is to create the NEXT moment the way you’d love it to be.

    And please keep up the great work.

    Kevin

  85. If you are in a State where cannabis is legal, then you have the perfect solution to stress, anxiety, and depression. Hopefully, one day soon, the silly prohibitions against cannabis (nature’s medicine) will be lifted throughout the United States.

  86. One of the things that achieves most of this for me is hunting.

    As someoner dealing wityh depression, I have come to realise that I cannot afford to NOT do thios, so I simply have to write it into the calendar. The psychologist that I see approves.

    It takes me out of my normal work environment, away from the computer and out of moble-phone range.

    It places me in the company of like-minded people, in camp where there is nothing to do arounbd the fire but eat, talk and drink.

    It is an immersive activity in which my total focus is on what we are doing to the exclusion of other things. I cannit “an emotional holiday” because it gives me rest from the normal stressors.

    It takes me into beautiful, quiet country.

    It gives me hard physical things to do… Climbing mountains, running after hounds, carry out heavy sections of game…

  87. Definitely agree with being out in nature as a stress reducer. The times in my life where I was most carefree are by far the multi-day hiking trips I’ve done. It’s amazing that activity that is so physically and mentally strenuous can be relaxing, but I never fail to feel better when I’m on the trail 🙂 Getting prepped tonight for a four-day trip over 4th of July weekend; I can already hear the woods calling 😛

  88. Great article. I have the exact same struggles. I find that not only going out into nature, but playing hard enough to get truly exhausted works the best for me as well.

  89. Hi Mark,

    just want to add my 2 cents worth… I personally have found that if I meet all my emotional/physical/safety needs that I just AM content. There’s a certain level of rebelliousness there – rejecting some of society’s norms. For example, in my case, spending time with my family is actually incredibly stressful, so I rebel against that. I rebel against the idea of having to work 9-5 and push towards my dream of working my dream, creating things that people love and making money which is clearly there in the gazillions to be had. Why shouldn’t it be me? I am now 35 and I spent much of my life trying to live according to the christian faith, and then trying to live according to society’s norms.. and I am delightedly happy to say I’ve completely given up. I read books by and about people that didn’t live according to the rules – people that pushed the boundaries and lived exactly how they pleased. Wildly successful icons of history. And that encourages me and feeds my soul, feeds that part of me that like you wants always to be growing, doing more, doing the next exciting thing. I find company when I need company, have made more good friends this way and numberless companions, I drink wine on the occasion and I live my life. I cannot wait to wake up each day, and aim higher, strive harder, sometimes relax like a slug… Your books were a real ‘blessing’ to me, and I will always be grateful for your shared knowledge and understanding towards a much better diet and lifestyle. I think perhaps you need to be challenged outside of your square. Read some new books to read. It doesn’t matter what they are!! (novels do it for me about half the time!) Just as long as they get you out of that box, that blue funk. Relationships may need changing, even your personality might end up being tweaked. But that’s life isn’t it. And you’ve got to embrace it. Go to a musical. Watch an opera. Go read about some of the great artists in history. Find yourself companionship that delights your soul. My advice from the other side of the world. All the best Mark, and thanks once again a million for such an amazing site and the fount of knowledge you are re food and exercise. So so appreciated. I sprinted yesterday with my 8 yr old son and beat him for the first time in years. So so glad for your advice. So happy to be embracing health and hope and rejecting the doctor’s advice. Yippee. So happy to be almost back to complete health. I’ll be a terrific testimonial I hope for you soon, if you want it. Cheers, and I hope you have a fabulous day ahead of you.

  90. Ranch work – digging, hauling, planting, etc. Have PTSD and always watch the sun rise and the sun set, as much as possible. The key to stress management is to be in the moment. What am I doing? How do I feel? Why am I stressed? What is really happening? The bad traffic isn’t a lion coming to kill you or it’s modern day version.. Neither is the long line at the grocery store or the unexpected car repair.

  91. I concentrate in praying. Like getting my rosary and pray for somebody or something that I heard in the news that left me speechless And I think only God’s mercy can reach… Even when I already had a time to pray during the day…

  92. having the same trouble, I recently thought of this: stress is a hydraulic force, either emotional or physical such as blood pressure. the emotional stress feels like a filled tube or line or pipe in your chest. it is at a normal level and should be there to keep you safe. however it goes easily overboard in an unnatural way, artificial, really. so if aware of this hydraulic pressure inside your chest becoming too high, you can peel away the pressure as you would with a hydraulic line in machinery. widen the line or tube a little at the time. breathing seems to coincide with it, in is pressure awareness and out is letting off the extra pressure on the tubes that hold the hydraulics. you are gradually left with exactly the peace of nature and the previous trouble is like the cupcake, calmly living with it

  93. Cooee, I’m also a first-time MDA poster!

    I interviewed a yoga teacher a few years ago who reminded me that our grok ancestors would sit around a campfire and either talk story or stare at the stars. We would wind down our mind naturally and if anyone on here knows what pure delicious wood fire heat is like ~ there is a magic therein that lulls us to sleep. On our family farm it’s hard to stay conscious past 9pm when the pot belly’s firing.

    Now…what to do in summer ?!

  94. I too, use the counting down from 100 by 7’s technique when having difficulty getting to sleep. The lowest I have ever gotten was 63 before drifting off. If I start thinking about things that are mainly resolved or for which there is no immediate or apparent solution, I just picture the file that contains them being closed and that file going into the file drawer and the drawer being closed. For relaxing I use the meditation technique that was developed for returning soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Just get comfortable; close your eyes and follow your breathing. No need to breath a particular way; your breathing will take care of itself. As thoughts come and go just go back to concentrating on your breathing; observing each breath as it goes in and out. This simple technique can be performed on the spot anywhere such as in an elevator or while waiting in traffic but be careful as you might fall asleep!

  95. What do I struggle with besides stress? I find myself 18 months after discovering the Primal Blueprint way of life still struggling with going primal. The longest I’ve gone is 17 days. I got super stressed and fell off the primal wagon.

    The grains are so hard to not eat. Not only are they everywhere but I know I’m one of those that are addicted to them. My default comfort during stress. (Bad, I know.)

    I know going primal is what will work for me but getting there…

    1. Agree! I have also been on the 10 day course. Meditation is awesome!

  96. Darling Mark I love your emails n blogs Well done for the improved health of the world.
    I was an atheist till my 50s. I have to tell you the only answer to all that you struggle with really is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. When you accept a relationship with Him you also receive the Holy Spirit of God who loves, guides, comforts and teaches you. Yay I have NEVER looked back. With love and blessings Anne Sciola Australia melbourne.
    No.,
    , I am not a nutter.Was an intellectual snob who knew it all untill I met Jesus.(Play twilight zone music here..)…….. Healthy eating has been my passion and funnily enough God, Holy spirit told me to follow exactly this paleo diet in 2005!! Praise God. He knows what humans need cos He created them and all life.

  97. All the meditations mentioned are ancient Buddhist/Hindu/Taoist techniques with a little modern sugar coating.They don’t fit modern man who uses his head too much and his body too little.Try OSHO’S cathartic active meditations,like dynamic meditation and kundalini meditation(www.osho.com for demos,descriptions and downloads.Also look into how your brain is functioning WHY ISN’T MY BRAIN WORKING by Datis Kharrazian.I’ve been a psychiatrist for 55 years and a meditator for 40 years.I work 12 hour days in an acute psychiatric hospital,16 days in a row,and I don’t feel stressed.”The essence of the way is to observe the mind” Bodhidharma The Primal Diet rocks,in 1 year my homocysteine dropped from 13 to 6.

  98. Hi Mark. Only one answer I found after being an atheist for 50 years..
    A relationship and encounter with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, the kindest, most loving , most peaceful person you will ever know who will guide you into peace, love, truth and wholeness. Do not fear about anything.
    I would NEVER go back to BC.
    Also I was given the paleo diet via a Holy Spirit download in 2005. I have struggled to believe in it and didnt follow it till I became convinced it was the only way when I found all you guys.
    Well done for helping make the world’s western sickies well.
    Love and blessings Anne

  99. Stress relief (and I’m trying to re-phrase that into a positive aspect, like Resiliency Training Ideas welcome!) is what I am building my business around. Right now we present it to emergency responders. We are going to modify our services and product to a different audience.

    So Mark, I especially would like to hear from you. I think I can help, and I would consider it returning the favor as my partner and I are both on the Primal diet, and incorporating a primal workout.

    If anyone has questions, contact me via my website.

  100. Still working my way through Dale Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” It’s 50+ years old and full of gems, e.g., figure out what is worrying you, identify the worst thing that can happen, and make up a plan to handle it. I often don’t get past step 2 as the worst thing is not unmanageable, so the stress was pointless in the first place.
    As a fellow entrepreneur whose brain never shuts off and who has trouble saying no, I resonate with all of these problems. My escape: movies – the more brainless, the better, and with 2 little kids, many of the movies are brainless! (or at least not exactly complex)

  101. I don’t know about you, Mark, but if I
    were describing myself in your words,
    I wouldn’t see a psychological or
    spiritual problem, but rather that I
    was eating too much carb and/or protein
    so that my fasting insulin was going
    too high. Perhaps your carbohydrate
    tolerance is diminishing. Meditation
    is quite easy when the metabolism is
    right because then the brain is right.

  102. I remind myself of my “enough” point. There will always be the “betters & mores” out there tempting us to strive higher. But at the end of the day, if I have done my best and gave it my best effort, that counts! Trying to make each day higher based on the day before is a recipe for burnout and having experienced that, it’s no fun and really detrimental to your body. Isn’t that what corporations move heaven and earth to do every quarter?! I believe if we all go out there and do good work and strive to be the best we can be, that alone will change the world.

  103. Good post Mark! I really enjoy knowing other people have the same issues going on as well. Something I’ve been reading up on is Bowen Family Systems Theory. Here’s a site you can check out to read about more if you’d like to… http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html This way of thinking has really been helping me with stress in my life. It’s something that I suggest and it might not be for everyone, but that’s okay too. Anyhow I wanted to throw in my thoughts and hope everyone has a great 4th of July!

  104. You should check out the TRADITIONAL INUIT & ALEUT DIET. Very primal, also check their health and life expectancy. You’ll see what you are missing

  105. What! Mark?! You’re not perfect, lol! Just Kidding!

    Turning my brain off, that is definitely a tough one, however, the way I do it is by telling myself that if I don’t do X Y & Z right now… No one will die, and I won’t die. If things get overwhelming, so much so that I cannot focus, I tell myself that I need to STOP because if I keep trying to do something in that state I will only 1/2 ass it… As opposed to coming back later or tomorrow when I am refreshed! I convince myself to stop and then I turn off my brain to recharge!

  106. Interesting article… For the stress side of things a book called Change your Thinking by Sarah Edelman has really helpful for me and is highly recommended. Helps you to recognize unhelpful patterns of thinking and reframe your thoughts so that the stressors become less well, stressful…

  107. Hi.
    I’ve been reading this pages for some time now i I like a lot of it. When I started to read this theme I thought of Tolle’s books and how he said fairly enough on the topic of being in present moment and what we are and aren’t. For many christian folks I see have posted comments I recommend “The spiritual man” written by Watchman Nee – to see how he explains what we are and aren’t.
    To comment on Mark’s accurate description of internet I must say that he put a wide and lasting smile on my face when he mentioned “The hickhiker’s guide to galaxy”, one of my favorite books of all times, a must read. And I was smiling while I was in bus, traveling to my work (as an MD who must almost excuse myself every time I start talking about nutrition) in a small Mediterranean city in Croatia.
    Anyway, Transurfing by Vadim Zeland could also be interesting to read, but it’s just a technique, without deeper meaning that Christianity gives to people.
    Mark, glad to have found your page.

  108. Great post Mark; thanks for sharing your challenges which help us work through ours!

    Not to get too ‘heavy’ but if you ask the ‘God’ question straight in the eye it relieves a lot of stress and buzzy brain things. It just does.

    Knowing God is in charge it just makes so much of the other stuff not matter as much and makes it be OK. We won’t understand it all or like it all but knowing that the Supreme Creator exists and is interested in us makes even death OK.

    When we go on our lovely moments into nature (an excellent thing to do) just ask this one question – its short: ‘where did it all come from’. Where did the incredible complexity and variation of things we see in nature EVERYWHERE come from? Could all this stuff, the red in the head of a woodpecker and the vividness of a trout and on and on and on all have just happened by a series of haphazard combinations – by accident? And if you do think the richness around us was started with an accidental combination of dirt, lightning and water or whatever, ask yourself, who made the dirt?

    I can respect either answer to the above question. What is more difficult to respect is when people never ask what might be the biggest, most obvious question of all.

    Ya – if we stay busy enough, we might be able to avoid asking it. But if we slow down a little…

    There‘s change and responsibility that comes with accepting the idea of ‘I think something made it’. Now, you are on a journey. Things may change. And the Creator may want things from you. But at least you feel good about looking at this head on rather than saying you don’t have time to think about it

    Plus – if these don’t find you waking up in the morning refreshed and thinking hey – I fell asleep! What was I thinking about last night? – I’d be surprised!

  109. The grains are no match for me, but the sugardragon is a constant fight. I often feel like it’s a loosing battle, but I will never give up! Also getting enough sleep is a challenge for me. But I never forget how far I have come compared to a couple of years ago, when I was a wreck because of glutenintoleranse and malnutricion. I try to be thankful every day and instead of focusing on all the things I do wrong, pat myself on the back for the things I did good. You should too, Mark;) Thank you for sharing!

  110. Re meditation: There are many flavors and paths as well expressed in many comments. The research being published is unmistakable that we can rewire our brains on many levels and also improve our immune function.

    It’s worth it to keep trying until you find a meditative approach that is right for you. I’ve had a lot of super-formal meditation training, and found that I really benefit from free, guided meditations available on my phone. I need the gentle helping hand.

    Of course many meditative traditions have a strong history of movement and nature. I find that learning new physical activities forces me to focus on one thing in a strongly meditative way.

    Oddly enough, I also have a little training as a Zen temple cook and trust me there is a many thousand year tradition of learning how food affects one’s energy and state of mind. This is where I first learned about the glycemic index. Also, vinegar perks you up. (Just a little freebie there friends). Clean eating does help clean the mind.

    Lastly, for all my smart talk, of course I have my own stress to manage too. Over the years, three things have helped me the most:

    -“Move toward anxiety” — meaning ID what is bothering me and deal with it

    -“Do the hard things first” — related to the above but also helps me elevate strategic projects and get them done. Somehow makes getting all the “other” stuff done easier.

    -“Just because it’s a good idea, that doesn’t mean it has to go on the list.” This has spared me more stress than I can ever express. The day I realized that I don’t have to do everything I come up with. Because I come up with A LOT.

    It’s really wonderful to have this community to share with and a place to contemplate these topics as well as receive thoughtful ideas and recommendations. I enjoyed this thread and will check out some of the ideas that are new to me. Thank you all.

  111. Mark, I could completely relate to this post! I share the same difficulty with meditating, quieting my brain and focusing. At least now I know I’m in good company, LOL! Just last night I ended up getting out of bed to work on my new blog and website because I knew I wasn’t going to get any rest until I did.

    As to those who suggested Eckart Tolle, I only found his books helpful as a cure for insomnia…so I agree, when you can’t get your brain to shut down you should try reading his books, they should help you go to sleep. Always works for me.

  112. Wow!!! What an article. I hope you get to read my reply. I have been where you are. Meditation is ok and yes it takes years. The Secret is a great book. But, all of these leave out one specific mode of the mind. I have written a booklet on this subject. Have cd’s.
    Was is my business for 20 yrs. I am not perfect for sure but would not want to think of where I would be in my life if I hadn’t learned this technique. Mark I like to discuss this with you and see what you think.
    Your story reminds me of when I was working in a doctors office and helping people with this particular situation of the mind wandering and why meditation didn’t seem to work for them, etc., Men would come to us to see if we could help them with premature ejaculation<<<<>>>>right?
    Some men said they were taught to think of a train wreck and that would hold them back. I was floored. It is not productive to try and dodge what you want by replacing it with another challenge. Such as walking or turning off you computer, etc. Both are good things but in most circumstance one just replaces an anxiety with another leaving the results the same. More angst.

  113. Stress (even PTSD) can be melted away by using Emotional Freeing Technique, Tapas Acupressure Technique or Eye Motion Desensitization and Reprocessing. I’ve been using EFT since 2005 and credit it (and my persistence) with healing a huge number of issues many of which were stress-related. EFT is great for specific things while TAT is best (for me) for more “global” issues. EMDR is awesome any time for anything, even when you’re too tired to tap or hold the TAT pose. These three things used together are too much for pretty much any stress. It does take time and persistence, though. I have had a few “one minute wonders” but over-all it takes time and persistence. Give them a try! If you can find a therapist the learning curve is much easier to negotiate but you can learn them on your own and do just fine.

  114. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone O Lord make me live in safety. Psalm 8:4
    Nature–declares the glory of our creator, God!
    Meditate–on His Word–it is life!
    A body in motion can’t have a troubled mind.
    Are you married? Have sex!
    Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
    We need to get OVER the idea that we are our own God–what a great load off our shoulders!

  115. I recommend yoga! It may not be for everyone, but there are different variations so you are bound to find one style that suits you.

  116. For me not being able to turn my brain off is my biggest problem because I’ll be thinking about whatever, and then a few minutes later get dizzy and realize that I’m not breathing. It’s also hard to get to sleep at night because I’ll keep not breathing, even if I’m not thinking about anything. I guess that means what I struggle with is breathing then 🙂

  117. All of these things are evidence that we were made for more and we sense it always…a relationship with our Creator. Being in nature, the creation. Relationships. Meditating, “work to enter that rest” (Heb. 4:11)…all begin to draw us to what we were made for…relationship with Him …in the now, daily manna…try it and rest.

  118. It’s not time management, or food, or sense of purpose that vexes life. It is fools. The jerk at 2 a.m. (or 2 p.m.) with the insanely loud music should be summarily executed. No warning, no trial. Just dragged out into the middle of the street and executed on the spot, painfully, and the stereo burned to ashes (especially if it is a car stereo) and any soul they might have cursed to eternal hell and his/her family damned for seven generations at least… and that’s just for starters… Their muzak in your house is like their smoke in your house. Unwanted, unhealthy, uncaring, unneighborly. One really only suffers two things in life: Jerks and your body betraying you. Going Primal helps mitigate the body some. It will win in the end, meaning you will lose, though you can have some influence over that (my goal is to get into overtime then sudden death.) As for jerks… Sir Lawrence of Arabia said you can argue with opinions but convictions are better off shot…. I wouldn’t even give stereo a blind fold… let them stare their just reward in the eye… oh, and go for a body shot so the bastards can HEAR the slug that kills them…

  119. For stress: dance around the house… dance, dance!
    For sleep: drink a small glass of tart black cherry juice two hours before bed. Really works, don’t know why, but it does.
    For simple joy: care for and connect to animals as equals, they’ll down-regulate your fears.
    For perspective: help someone in a small offhand way, like it’s no big deal

  120. Mark and others, I suggest reading “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris. Dan Harris is a news anchor for ABC. He talks about how the high stress competitive nature of his job combined with his Super Type A personality led to a break down and how he learned to control his brain and his stress. HIs journey was hysterical and relatable and led him to meditation, something he never thought in a million years he would ever do. Forget Tolle, he’s a flake.

    Dan Harris (Author)

  121. I second Eckhart Tolle’s books – simply because he teaches you how to meditate in every moment and rethink Western ideas from a different perspective (and not be annoyed by neighbors or other life’s stressors) – you don’t need to use your brain unless you’re working on a task for a short amount of time. The rest of the time you set it aside and focus on breathing and being you, not the voice in your head with a list of what to do or what not to do. You need to go beyond just reading it though and just try it out.

    Plus everyone needs to find their own way to zone in during the day – either through yoga, nature, exercise, or whatever. Any pleasurable thing can be a release. I’ve used floatation tanks and nature to help understand how to meditate too.

    My best tip from my business mentor was to do a gratitude journal at night and meditate. It has helped me clear my head before bed so sleep comes easier. For me writing at the end of the day what I did well, my concerns, and the different ways I’m grateful helps me unwind and recognize reality – then meditation allows me to relax so I can more clearly see what I need to do.