There are plenty of excellent stress guides out there. Some will offer spiritual tips, while others will give you practical advice. Still others offer nutrition and fitness ideas to mitigate stress. Stress comes in many forms – relationships, work, health, hormones, momentary dilemmas, and more – and there are just as many ways to tackle it. Here’s a list of helpful stress soothers that are so simple, they’re often forgotten. They’re not ground-breaking by any means, but they work! So, while these won’t resolve major conflicts or heal a tired body, they will give you a quick mental lift. And sometimes, that’s all you really need.
Bibliona Flickr Photo (CC) There are more diets than donuts, and the truth is that most of them will work in the short-term. But the reason few diets work long-term is because they are rarely sustainable for a number of reasons: boredom, severe restrictions, expense, impracticality, and so on. Most diets are vanity diets – we start them because we want to look sexy in that swim suit, rather than be fit and healthy. If humans actually thought with the end in view, we wouldn’t see such exorbitant rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If you want to lose weight, I’d first encourage you to think about why you have the desire to do so. If it’s to impress everyone at your upcoming reunion, that’s certainly harmless (hey, we’re all vain). But I hope that you plan to lose weight for more than your reflection in the mirror. Studies show time and again that just a few pounds of weight loss can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, depression and stroke. We don’t often think about the long-term, but we should. Changing your lifestyle right now – today – will yield you feel-good results for many years to come. And you’ll lose the weight sooner than you think, making a lifestyle change smart for the short-term, as well. Here are seven essential steps for following a healthy lifestyle that will naturally shed those extra pounds. You cannot maintain long-term weight loss and simultaneous good health if you don’t make these changes. 1. Carbs: know good from bad You frequent readers know that I ascribe to a diet rather like the “Paleo diet” or “Caveman diet”. My views on human biology inform my nutritional bent that I call “Primal Health”. I recommend complete exclusion of all refined starches, sugars and grains, and beyond that, I recommend that you choose vegetables, fruits, squashes, and legumes over wheat-based grain carbohydrates such as pasta and bread. Know good carbs from bad carbs. You don’t have to eliminate carbs entirely to remain slender (unless you happen to be very intolerant to begin with, as I believe many of us are). Axing an entire macro-nutrient is a recipe for a health disaster (and serious boredom, let’s be honest). But you need far fewer carbohydrates – particularly the ones that rapidly spike your blood sugar – than the U.S. government’s food pyramid tells you to get. See my Carb Pyramid below for more help with this. 2. Fat: ditto You cannot be healthy without fat. Period. Fat is required for all kinds of important processes in the body, including digestion and nutrient absorption. But it’s not simply about health: you likely will not be able to maintain fighting form without fat, as well. We all avoided fat in the 90s, and nobody got skinny – just diabetic and depressed, evidently. Fat is high in calories, but being so nutritionally dense, it’s a smart, hunger-staving source of fuel. You’ll actually be able to maintain a healthy … Continue reading “The 7 Habits of Thin (Healthy) People”
One of the most stupid maxims in the history of humanity is “Better the devil you know.” I’m sure you’re familiar with this phrase. I get really tired of hearing it. No axiom is better if you want to fritter your life away.
Essentially, the idea is that if you’re stuck in a less-than-ideal situation, it’s somehow better to stay stuck, because changing the situation might make things worse. Ostrich and mud metaphors aside, apparently comfort and familiarity are more desirable than living.
To play my own devil’s advocate, “the devil you know” might serve as a sensible note of caution against change for the sake of change. But I don’t see why the little gems we all seem happy to live by need to be put into binary terms. The opposite of “the devil you know” isn’t necessarily change without purpose, an obviously foolish thing. Restless is one thing (there can be character-building value in sticking with a “devil” you detest). Fear is another thing entirely. When I hear “the devil you know,” I hear fear. I hear defeat. I hear a negative outlook on life.
“Calculated risk” isn’t much of a risk at all. Comfort is just death warmed up. Making a change when you’re stuck is scary – that’s the whole point. So what if you fail? Do you think you’re going to go through your whole life without making some big mistakes? Would you really even want to?
Embrace your fear, embrace the gray, go grab the new devil by the horns. The one you know? He’s you.
(P.S. Things that are more interesting than the devil you know: wet toast, cardboard, reheated oatmeal).
More Monday Moments
A Monday Moment
You’re about to pitch the boldest idea of your life to the board of directors.
You’re going to ask your boss for a raise. A big one.
You’re giving a speech at the upcoming fundraiser. It has to be memorable and inspiring.
You know all eyes will be on you as you toast the bride and groom.
We all face situations where nerves can seize us and make presenting a terrifying prospect. Whether it’s in the workplace, at the courthouse, or even on celebratory occasions, having to present yourself and your thoughts is stressful to even the most outgoing and charming folks.
You can try all kinds of techniques and tips for banishing your nerves and boosting your confidence, but perhaps the best way to overcome the nervousness of “putting yourself out there” is in shifting one’s perspective. This is easier and more effective. There is but a single, key step to take to banish your nerves forever.
Embrace your nervousness.
That’s it. Rather than feel bad or embarrassed or even panicky about your nervous state, welcome it! Embrace it! Fear is a good thing. Don’t fight it. As Soren Kierkegaard said, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Nervous? Good. It’s a sign that you’re living your life with boldness and authenticity. If you’re feeling nervous, that’s a sign you’ve got a pulse.
The important thing is to channel this nervousness into positive energy. That’s where success comes – it’s not in “beating” nerves. Attempting to fight or ignore or beat your nervousness is an exercise in futility. What’s more effective is welcoming your nervous flutters and in fact feeling grateful for them. Stage fright is wonderful. If you’re nervous, that’s a sign that you have energy and enthusiasm for your daunting task. In fact, you should be more worried if you aren’t nervous.
The best presenters and performers in the world get nervous. Nervousness isn’t a bad thing. It’s a prerequisite to a life of adventure and satisfaction. Embrace your nervousness in every endeavor. It means your whole body is tuned in to what you’re about to do. That’s living in the moment – the healthiest thing of all.
Go get ’em!
[tags] nervousness, stage fright, presentation [/tags]
Merely Meaning It You don’t have to be a Star Wars nerd to remember Yoda’s words: “There is no try. There is only do.” Despite the green and the wrinkles, that little guy was on to something. The difference between trying and doing – between wishing and being – is possibly the most significant factor in living the life that will fulfill you versus merely existing. We all know those people who “try” to improve; we also know the people who simply get things done. From the outside, getting things done (and doing them well) can look like luck, or connections, or timing. Certainly these things can be part of the equation. Positive thinking and action gets you pretty far, but others’ actions are their own, and can either help or hinder you (and there’s usually not a whole lot you can do about that, despite what purveyors of The Secret might have you believe). But I think there’s something different going on here. Problems and disappointments just don’t add up under the current try vs. do system. Yoda was on to something, but not everything. I believe that very few people are truly malicious, and yet: we are constantly let down and disappointed by others, whether that’s individuals, groups, organizations, institutions. How is this possible? And the fact that we are by nature “self-interested”, while true, still doesn’t explain why people hurt each other, let each other down, or, you know…try to get better. Let me ask you: – How many of you have ever been hurt by someone whom you know seemed to mean it when they said they wanted to be better…but nothing changed? – How many of you have been baffled by someone’s words and actions being completely incongruous – baffled because you know they meant what they said? (If that’s not cognitive dissonance…) – How many of you have really agonized over whether or not someone meant what he or she said? Because meaning it would make all the difference? Think of all the movies and shows – especially dramas and romantic comedies – that feature heart-to-hearts discussing this very issue: “Did he mean it when he said…” “But if she meant it, then…” Guess what? Not only is trying not the same as doing, but meaning is not the same as doing, either. Does a person mean what he says? Big deal. Meaning does not equal being. Only doing equals being. I believe if people realized this – that a person can still fundamentally mean what he says and never live up to it – we’d be a lot better off. We give “meaning what you say” a lot of weight in this society. A lot. As long as you meant it: meaning those words implies sincerity, honesty, genuineness. “I just have to know that she meant it.” The real reason we give “meaning it” so much weight is because we have met those rare people who actually do what they say. What they … Continue reading “Do You Mean What You Say? Big Deal.”
The Tuesday 10: Smoking. You know you need to quit. Not exactly easy when Big Puff keeps increasing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes – how do these people sleep at night? We’ll spare you the terrible health facts – if you’re here, if you want to quit, you probably already know them all. And you know that quitting will take major effort. Cigarettes are monstrously addictive, but you can quit smoking, if for no other reason than this: your mind is the most powerful computer on earth. Harness that power correctly and you can accomplish your goals. Accomplishment does take really hard work (and then even more really hard work). And it takes commitment. And investigation. But we bet you’ve got all that in spades. You’re here, aren’t you? Here’s a collection of the ten best places to start if you are going to quit smoking. From helpful tips to group support to new information, you’re in the right place! 10. 70 Tips Ought to Get You Started As always, Ririan has great practical tips for improving your life. This post covers 70 different ways to quit smoking and is adapted from… 9. Why Not? Why Quit is one of the oldest resources on the web for those who want to quit smoking. It’s also one of the best. 8. Don’t Be a Quitter Quitter There are thousands of bloggers who are working on the very same goal you are, right now, and it can help to remember you’re not alone. Get to know them. 7. More Reasons to Quit Now In case you just haven’t heard enough about the dangers of smoking, there are more than scientists ever thought possible. Here’s one of the latest findings. And here’s even more news. 6. Shocking Facts Some amazing things you might not know. 5. Can You Afford It? Cigarettes cost an additional $7 bucks per pack on top of the purchase price. Here’s the report – smoking costs the average smoker about four grand a year. Can you afford to smoke? 4. Why We Smoke Smoking just feels good. It may even serve an antidepressant role in the brain (so far only rat studies have confirmed this, but it’s pretty convincing). It gives us control. It’s soothing. Although we “want” to quit, we also really want to keep smoking. That’s not to make you feel bad, guilty or give up hope. It’s to shed some light on the situation so you can understand what you’re up against. The brain has two pleasure mechanisms, which is why addiction is such a mammoth to deal with. We can “want” and “like” simultaneously, but these functions are separate in the brain (thanks, brain). Over time, we can still “want” a substance (or person) even if we don’t like it – even if we totally fall-to-the-floor hate it. Pick up the March edition of Elle Magazine (yes, the one with Barbie…er, Jessica Simpson on the cover) to read Maia Szalavitz’s mind-bending and encouraging article … Continue reading “How to Quit Smoking”