Category: Stress Management

Does It Have to Be This Way?

Something has been on my mind and I want to ask for your thoughts on the matter.

The other day, I stopped at the local Starbucks for a coffee. Rather than book it to my next errand, I decided to sit and relax for a few minutes. Yes, I’m a people-watcher (guilty as charged). It was late in the afternoon and people were hurriedly running their errands, trying to get everything taken care of before dinner.

I started to notice something: everywhere I looked, people were stressed out. Brows were furrowed, children were ornery, wives looked anxious, the husbands had that “I’ve officially hit the wall” numb look. Drivers were impatiently honking horns, the intersection was jammed, and the general feeling in the air was pretty lousy.

I shook it off and walked over to the drugstore to pick up a few sundries. Same thing – a woman was tearing the poor clerk to pieces over a soda discount error. The line was piling up, people were complaining and grimacing, and there was a lot of huffing going on.

Against my better judgment, I headed for the bank to take care of some business, and it was the same scene there: a college kid crying about her overdraft charges, an incompetent teller, a missing manager, an obnoxious guy in a suit screaming on his cell phone.

We all have those days. Evidently, this day, everyone was having it at the same time. We all hit our limits, and sometimes the manners just go. Nobody’s perfect. Life is really stressful. And yet, I find myself asking: why do we accept this?

Is there ever really a reason to scream at a clerk, your child, your spouse? We all dread getting stuck behind “that person” in line – that person who gets rattled by the tiniest mistake and apparently feels that yelling at another human being is acceptable behavior. Even worse, most of us have been that person at least once, despite our best attempts.

So, is this just life? If life turns ordinary people into angry, stressed, impatient souls, should we really say that’s just the way life is? Should we accept it?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know if I’m asking the right question (but I think I am). I’m certain you know what I’m talking about – we all witness this hum of stress on a persistent, sometimes even daily, basis. All I want is one good, compelling, logical reason why it has to be this way. I don’t want to know why it is this way – that’s easy enough to figure out if you simply look at our modern lifestyle and the insane pressures many of us face. That’s not what I’m asking.

I want someone to tell me why it has to be, not why it is. Does it have to be this way?

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Feel Better about Feeling Everything. Also, No More Beef.

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Click it out, Apples!

More Beef, Less Sperm

Well, the title says it all.

Feeling Disgusted? Good.

The capacity to feel disgust (among other strong reactions) is a healthy thing. It’s all the way nature designed it – unfortunately, there are still areas where we need to catch up, and our health is perhaps the biggest one.

A few examples: our bodies are still hard-wired for “fight or flight” (making both stress management and fitness in the Age of the Cubicle serious challenges); we’re really not meant for as many calories as we get; we’re definitely not meant for as much sugar as we get.

The evolutionary door has hit us on the way out, so to speak, and while this causes all kinds of problems with obesity, happiness and fitness, there are other snags, too:

“We often respond to today’s world with yesterday’s adaptations,” Fessler said. “That’s why, for instance, we’re more afraid of snakes than cars, even though we’re much more likely to die today as a result of an encounter with a car than a reptile.” – UCLA Professor Dan Fessler, via Science Blog

In other words, give yourself a little credit. We may be the most sophisticated, feeling animals on the planet, but we’re still animals. It’s natural for us to worry, stress, fear, and get grossed out.

The Secret to a Better Memory

We have to hand it to the NZ Herald. They always have fascinating, useful, interesting health news articles that are decidedly sensible, too. Find out about an easy way to boost your memory, feel happy, and sleep like a baby. Feel the burn, baby!

What’s the Opposite of the Blues?

Feeling down? Trying to figure out the source of a negative issue or emotion? Whatever you do, don’t go about it by means of “problem thinking”. It’s what we all do naturally and unconsciously – after all, no one ever talks about having “the reds”, right?

Prevent that stress! With a little awareness and just a few consistent, consecutive efforts, you can turn problem thinking around permanently! It’s not about repressing feelings (hey, they’ll just bubble up – or explode – eventually). Rather, this is an excellent, handy, and ridiculously simple way to rewire your brain. We love it!

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For Longevity’s Sake

Here’s a question for you: what do we really mean when we talk about anti-aging?

Anti-aging supplements, hormones and tools are some of the hottest things going right now. Everywhere you look, people are talking about “brain health”. Sudoku is enjoying a popularity only rivaled by high school prom queens. Botox is big, everyone dyes their hair, and if you’re not taking antioxidants, well, it’s time to get with the program. And let’s not even get started on the youth-worship in prime time TV and magazines. We don’t really have to: anti-aging has taken over health, too.

Which is fine by me. Who wouldn’t want to get more out of life? But here’s the issue: are we talking about living longer, or living better?

At best, if you do everything, and I mean everything, right – don’t smoke or drink, exercise, eat well, sleep, control stress, maintain healthy, loving relationships, enjoy meaningful work, avoid sugar and carcinogens, breathe fresh air, take vacations, stay positive, stretch your mind, save your pennies (getting tired yet?) – there’s still ultimately a limit.

At best, doing everything perfectly, you can expect to make it to 80 or 90 – perhaps 100 if you’re really, really doing something right. (Then again, we all know the stories about the guy who ate bacon and had a flask of whiskey glued to his hip at breakfast yet managed to live to 110.)

So what do we really want? The current model doesn’t look too appealing. It appears to me that we’re all aiming for a place in the longevity race. Getting a few wrinkles? No problem – slice ’em away! Diseased and overweight from years of neglect and poor choices? There’s a pill and a surgery to fix it! So we’ve got a whole barrel of surgeries and drugs to make up for mistakes. Which is fine, but is this really living well?

Personally, I’d rather not see the inside of 100 if it means I’m hobbling along thanks to a slew of surgery and drugs. I think most of us want energy, vitality, and more bang for the buck – yet our diet, our medical system, and our approach to health don’t reflect this at all. Most health treatments seem to be patching the leaks, rather than preventing the leaks to begin with. Yet I think most of us would choose living well over living a long time. So, how do we align our choices with our goals?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Click “Ask Anything!” to send me an email, or visit the forum to leave me a message.)

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[tags]longevity, anti-aging, botox, vitality[/tags]

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Reduce Stress, Like, Yesterday

We’ve all heard (and don’t forget experienced!) that major life changes like getting married, giving birth, moving or starting a new job can be unbearably stressful. But it isn’t always the big transitions that take the heftiest health toll. Day-to-day stress – the kind you ignore that accumulates over time – can create detrimental health effects on your body.

So, the next time you begrudgingly roll out of bed at 6 a.m. because you’ve got two kids to feed and drop off at school before you head into the fray of congested traffic and board meetings, think about taking time to undo all the pent-up tension with some of the terrific tips that can be found at the following handy websites. 20 minutes a day of “love insurance” (as in lovin’ your own life!) makes all the difference!

My favorite suggestions from around the web this week:

“Talk to yourself.”

15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life

“Attempt to Control Absolutely Everything.” (They’re kidding, of course.)

5 Ideas for Stressful Living

“Enjoy Life’s Little Luxuries”

Fight Stress! (Who’s biased?)

“Be passionate – About how your work improves people’s lives.”

A Clear Eye

“Be Mindful”

Your Brain on Multi-Tasking

[tag] stress [/tag]

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Great Health Hits

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

All the news links you want to click! Mark’s favorite articles from the world of health:

1) Take heart!

Women, like men, are at risk for heart disease and heart attacks. But according to the following link, about one in five women who have heart attacks show no signs of heart trouble before the attack. The usual diagnostics and symptoms just don’t send up any red flags. The Boston Globe’s online news source, Boston.com, reports:

“For the last 40 years, doctors have relied on five factors to evaluate a patient’s risk of heart disease: their age, whether they smoke, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and levels of good cholesterol, known as HDL.”

The news that doctors want to add inflammation – hello, a no-brainer! – to the list of red flags is a great step in the right direction for heart health, and one that is long overdue. Inflammation can be a factor in many health conditions and diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Stress, sugar, and plain old sloth all contribute to inflammation, as do smoking, alcohol, and other free-radical sources like trans fat in fried foods.

2) Oh, FDA, what will you goof on next?

More FDA shenanigans. This time, infants are affected. This is an important article if you are a new parent (or know someone who is).

3) Real men eat lettuce…

Men, if you care about your prostate, it’s time to make vegetables your best friend. Like Mark always says, it’s not like they meow – so get over the veggie aversion already!

4) The worst health advice, ever!

According to this article, eating carbs – and not just any carbs, but starchy carbs – is a great way to assure yourself a good night’s sleep. It’s also a great way to put yourself at an increased risk for depression, obesity, and diabetes. The article cites a study which found that carbs stimulate tryptophan and serotonin, the body’s natural sleep aids. However, exercise and fruits and vegetables also have this effect, and they won’t sabotage your health!

Here are a few quick, healthy ways to fall asleep fast, and they won’t spike your blood sugar:

– eat a tablespoon of peanut butter before bed – the natural chemicals help soothe your racing mind.

– drink a little warm organic milk – it really does help!

– try 5 minutes of deep breathing or some light stretches.

– wash your hands and face in warm water, wear socks, and keep your room nice and cool!

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The Tuesday 10

The Top 10 Ways to Beat Stress…this week! Thanks to all Apples who participated in last week’s how-to-beat-stress contest. Our winner, junior Apple Sandra W., had some excellent suggestions we’re adding to today’s 10 (and a free month’s supply of all-natural stress-busting Proloftin is on the way, Sandra!). Thanks to the rest of you for the additional good tips! Here they are: 10. Choose your friends wisely. This is possibly the most important thing you can do to manage stress in your life. It’s often overlooked, too. Choosing your relationships from a proactive, positive mindset is critical to your well-being. We all have people who “drain” us or bring negative situations or thoughts into our lives. And sometimes it’s hard to admit this – and even harder to take action. As much as you can, let these people go. Sometimes it’s not immediately possible to weed them all out, but over time, work to surround yourself with good, kind people who offer you true love, true support, and true reciprocity. Life’s too short to short-change yourself in the joy department. Really. 9. Get exercise – and get grounded. Daily exercise regulates the delicate balance of hormones in your body. It’s the best way to relieve stress, tension and anxiety – plus it’s great for your body. Even better, exercise that literally gets you grounded (walking, hiking, or running) gives you an additional mental boost. Exercise doesn’t have to be lengthy or intense. A daily walk is the most natural and effective workout for both your mind and your body. 8. Listen to uplifting music. Sound is very important. Think about the sounds you encounter and surround yourself with every day – and take steps to limit stressful sounds and noises like traffic, yelling, negative television news, and jarring music. Listen to music that makes you happy. 7. Swim. Swimming is a wonderful stress-reliever, and it’s gentle on your joints, too. 6. Stretch. Stretching loosens muscle tension, releases nerve “kinks”, massages your internal organs, helps flush toxins and just makes you feel great! Try to stretch gently for a few minutes every day. Hint: never stretch until it hurts. Learn about yoga here. 5. Surround yourself with pleasant objects and belongings. We’re not talking about expensive items or materialistic pursuits. But surrounding yourself with personal mementos, cherished objects and pleasant things to touch and look at – both at home and at work – does wonders for your sense of well-being. These things needn’t be pricey, just special to you. The same goes for clutter and objects you don’t like – toss them out and make room for things that make you happy. 4. Pray or meditate. Calm yourself and renew your spirits with 5 to 20 minutes daily spent in quiet introspection. Whether you prefer to think through your day, think about your loved ones, or think about nothing at all, meditative activities literally reset brain waves and restore a sense of peace and serenity. Don’t neglect the need to … Continue reading “The Tuesday 10”

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