Category: Stumbling Blocks
Whenever I write about sleep, I hear from a chorus of people who struggle to sleep through the night. Anecdotally, it seems a far more common complaint than difficulty falling asleep in the first place.
These complaints are one of three types:
People who have trouble falling asleep
People who sleep fitfully, waking multiple times throughout the night
Those who reliably wake once, around the same time most nights
Understandably, this is a hugely vexing problem. Poor quality sleep is a serious health concern. Not to mention, sleeping badly feels simply awful. When the alarm goes off after a night of tossing and turning, the next day is sure to be a slog. String several days like that together, and it’s hard to function at all.
Let me start by saying that if you’ve mastered the art of not caring what people think, congratulations. It’s a skill most people work on their whole lives. And some don’t even realize they’re side-stepping their dreams or apologetically defending their primal lifestyle until someone points it out.
Caring what other people think of us is normal. It’s a natural human response, kind of like salivating when you see a thick ribeye sizzling on the grill. We all want to be accepted (and not rejected) by our peers and loved ones, so of course we care what they think of us.
Now that the world is opening back up (well… in some places), we’re eating out more, going to more parties, and returning to a “new” new normal that sometimes leaves us (or our partners) struggling to find balance. In this week’s Ask a Health Coach, Erin is here to answer your questions about all this, plus much more. Got something to ask? Post your question in the comments or in our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group.
Chances are, you’ve experienced intrusive thoughts. I’m talking about those odd or disturbing thoughts that pop into your head seemingly out of nowhere. Usually, they involve imagining yourself, just for a moment, doing something dangerous, harmful to others, or socially inappropriate. It’s not that you want or intend to do so, but you realize that you could stand up and yell obscenities in church, kiss a stranger on the bus, or ram your car into the car in front of you at the stoplight.
We don’t talk about intrusive thoughts all that much, probably because the content is often violent or sexual in nature. Yet, research suggests that intrusive thoughts are a near-universal human experience. More often than not, people simply dismiss them because they’re so “out there.” A particular thought may make you pause long enough to ask yourself, “Whoa, where did that come from?!” but then you move on.
For some folks, though, intrusive thoughts become incredibly disruptive because they arise with great frequency, or because the person finds them so disturbing that they have a hard time letting them go. Sometimes both.
People who struggle with intrusive thoughts can become sidelined by shame, guilt, or anxiety. They worry that these thoughts reflect who they “really are” deep down. They believe that friends and loved ones will reject them if they knew. When the same intrusive thoughts run on a loop in their heads, they may fear that they are willing those bad things to happen or creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
Often, these individuals are reluctant to seeking help despite their profound distress. Intrusive thoughts are incredibly normal, but they shouldn’t interfere with your quality of life. While banishing them is easier said than done, some techniques show promise for helping people deal with unwanted thoughts and the angst they cause.
More and more people are questioning whether alcohol deserves a place in their lives. The popular media has dubbed this growing contingent of alcohol skeptics “sober-curious.” These folks aren’t so much worried that they have a serious drinking problem, though that might be a nagging thought in the back of their minds. Rather, they suspect that the negatives outweigh the positives, even if they only drink “moderately” (however they define it).
Sober-curious folks are ready to dabble in sobriety, yet the choice to stop drinking is a complicated one. Cutting out alcohol isn’t as simple as switching to mineral water and going on your merry way. For many, it means giving up a stress or anxiety release, a comfortable habit, and a way to unwind at the end of a long day.
Then there are the obvious social considerations. Drinking is woven into every aspect of social life, from celebrations to mourning, brunches with friends, first dates, work functions—you name it, alcohol is there. Drinking is so normalized that not drinking unsettles and perplexes other people more than drinking to excess.
The sober-curious crowd, which includes a growing contingent of young people, is ready to disrupt the system as they increasingly realize that a sober lifestyle has more to offer. Alcohol perhaps isn’t the cool best friend it’s supposed to be. It’s more like the sloppy, unhelpful roommate who needs a boot.
I’m a huge fan of keeping things simple (I even put it in my business name: eat.simple). I especially feel this way when it comes to food, fitness, and fat loss. If you’re sick of white knuckling it through your day, struggling with non-existent motivation, or the phrase “I’ll just start again on Monday” is on regular rotation in your vocabulary, there’s one life-changing tactic I use with all my clients that’s proven to accelerate results. I realize life-changing is a fairly dramatic word, but without this one step, you’ll be working harder than you need to. The simplest and most impactful thing you can do to accelerate your results is to set your environment up for success. The Role Your Environment Plays Think about the unfavourable snack foods that you keep in your pantry. You know, “just in case.” Or the fact that you have no clue where you put those free weights you bought during the pandemic. Does that get you closer to your results or further away? When you remove the foods that tempt you from the house and replace them with ones that support your goal, you have the best possible chance of succeeding. Same goes for exercise. If your workout gear is tucked away in a back closet, how likely are you to use it? Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behaviour. This nugget of truth from author and habit expert, James Clear is 100% spot on. People tend to believe that their healthy habits are a product of motivation, willpower, and effort, when in reality, it’s your environment that gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Clear says, “If you want to maximize your odds of success, then you need to operate in an environment that accelerates your results rather than hinders them.” Examples of how environment impacts you: Your phone is right next to your desk, so you check Instagram more often than you’d like You didn’t make time to go grocery shopping, so it looks like it’s take-out again tonight The room you work out in is cluttered with junk, making it hard to find space to do yoga You use a large dinner sized plate, and fill it up with more food than you need You keep ice cream in the freezer and eat it after a really stressful day Change Your Environment, Change Who You Are Environment plays a big role in your ability to reach your goals. Not just from a conscious perspective (remove the ice cream from the freezer so it’s harder to indulge), but also from a subconscious perspective. By altering your environment, your subconscious mind starts to adopt behaviours and attitudes that are conducive to your success. Say, you went ahead and purged all the cookies, bagels, muffins, and cereal from your pantry and replaced them with bowls of fresh fruit and veggies. The food you’re surrounded by begins to change the way you think about yourself. In other words, if your cupboard … Continue reading “Want to Accelerate Your Results? Set Up Your Environment for Success”