From the category archives:

stress

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

by Ed

Health, like wealth, is not much use without happiness. And happiness gives us a stronger immune system and less stress.

What do you enjoy eating? If it is only junk food, then you might be in trouble. If you enjoy eating a fairly reasonable diet, yet you stress out trying to eat a totally healthy diet you are being counter productive. One study a few years back compared two groups of people, one could eat what they want, the other was given a specific healthy diet. The healthy diet people actually did more poorly in that particular study. After some research, they decided it was because the people on the diet were more stressed and felt more out of control of their own lives.

Here’s another downer: If you want to lose weight and you are stressing out about your diet all the time, you may be increasing your production of cortisol, which will cause you to gain weight.

How to be happy

  • Don’t take your thoughts so seriously. If you have a thought like “I screwed up”, “I’m not good enough”, or “How come I never get it right”, just let the thought go. It’s just a thought. Everyone does good things and dumb things, that’s just the way we are. You are still a lovable human being that deserves to be happy.
  • Make other people’s happiness a priority. When we focus outside of ourselves we tend to be happier. Generally, unhappy people spend most of their time thinking about themselves.
  • Don’t become a slave to others desires. There are needy people out there who stick themselves to people who are always willing to help. Those people will soon burn you out. So, help others, but recognize your own limits and stick to them.
  • Don’t try to change others. People do that to their spouses, and it is a losing battle. Let each other be who they are. If you really can’t stand them, leave them. However, our lives become richer by enjoying the company of people not like ourselves. That’s probably what attracted you to that person you can’t stand in the first place.
  • Pamper yourself regularly. What do you love to do? Every day spend some time doing things you love to do, and every week take time out to really pamper yourself.
  • Recognize that your moods are always changing. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down. Don’t dwell on the down times, let them pass. Those can be good opportunities for pampering yourself. Sometimes when I am in a down mood I like to listen to sad music or watch a sad movie. That allows me to enjoy the mood, without dwelling on myself or making my mood about me. Sometimes I’ll do the opposite, listen to happy music or watch a comedy. If I’m lucky it brings me up again.
  • Have purpose in your life. Figure out what you want to achieve or discover or learn or create. Go out and start working towards those goals. And keep coming up with new ones. Some people set a fairly lofty goal, then if they actually reach it, they get depressed because they lived their whole life for that one goal. There are limitless possible goals on this earth.

Caffeine?

by Ed

Yesterday I read a good post on caffeine at stressedout.org

Since I shared the pros of chocolate, then the cons of sugar, last week, it seems appropriate to look into the cons of caffeine. So check it out the post above.

If you keep your chocolate consumption down to 2 ounces or less a day, and eat it early in the day, you should be safe from the bad effects of caffeine, unless you are particularly sensitive to it. Oh, and if you want the benefits of chocolate, it must be dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa is best. Don’t drink milk with it either, milk inhibits the healthful chemicals.

Quick destress and rejuvenator

by Ed

Get into a comfortable position. On your back with your knees on a pillow works well. Take a few moments just to notice how your body feels. Fake a yawn or two, sigh a couple of times and wriggle around to get more comfortable. As you breathe, notice the rise and fall of your belly. Start breathing more deeply, emphasizing the movement of your belly. Push it out as you inhale and pull it in as you exhale. Now just breathe naturally again, and notice how your body feels.

Now, as you inhale imagine you are filling your lungs with energy. If you are visual, vissualize it. Or you can feel it or pretend it is happening. Imagine your lungs are becoming more and more energized. Every cell is dancing. Next inhale that energy into your right arm. Do the same thing. Then your left arm, your right leg, your left leg, and finally your belly. When your belly feels totally energized, get up and jump up, lightly, and down a few times.

How can you sleep?

by Ed

How can you sleep if your body is not tired?

Up until about 100 years ago, exercise was a major part of daily life. At the end of the day our bodies were tired, and we slept.

Another way exercise helps sleep is by using up the stress chemicals in our bodies. All day long we are having stressful events that flood our bodies with fight or flight chemicals. If we don’t fight or flee, it takes a long time for those chemicals to be dissipated. We lie awake at night, feeling wired. When you exercise, you burn up all of those chemicals.

Aerobic exercise is probably the best for burning up those chemicals, but all kinds of exercise helps you sleep. Weight training certainly tires the muscles. Power yoga styles also leave you nicely tired. And the more gentle, restorative styles of yoga are great for calming you down in the evening.

Do something every day, even if it’s going up and down the stairs a few extra times, or a walk to the mail box. Get an exercise ball to sit on at work, and bounce while you are thinking or talking on the phone. There are a lot of little ways to add more movement into your day. They add up. Still, you need to have a good solid work out several days a week.

Siesta Time

by Ed

As I was researching side effects of insomnia for my Sunday sleep series, I found this article in Tuesday’s edition of the International Herald Tribune.

They found that Greeks who took regular 30-minute siestas were 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease over a six-year period than those who never napped. So, I guess the Mediterranean cultures had it right all along. We in North America are to consumed with doing. We never stop until the day is done. So, this afternoon, tell your boss that you need your nap, otherwise next week, he might be calling an ambulance for you.

In so many ways, in our culture, we overstress ourselves. Let’s take back our lives and enjoy them for a few years. Have a nap, at least on the weekend.