Is Email Stress a Real Thing?

Do YOU have a Screen Addiction-

I read this article the other day called, “Sleep Wellness, Digital Detox and Mindfulness.” It was from WELCOA, a trusted wellness resource in the corporate wellness industry. I learned quite a bit from it so thought I would share a few of the important pieces from it.

Here ye’! Here ye’! (Not really sure why, but felt the urge to say that.)

Lack of quality sleep is a HUGE problem in America and the newest factor to play into this poor quality is America’s collective infatuation (nice way of saying “addiction”) with smart digital wireless devices. And get this, the worst part is the hyper vigilance of social networking, video gaming and non-stop tweets or texts. It is rewiring our brain for stress right before bed when our brain really just wants to relax!

I am sure most of you know, but sleep disorders are often associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and several other chronic diseases. I hear from people all the time trying to lose weight saying they do everything right with physical activity and nutrition. Unfortunately, there are SO MANY MORE factors than those two when it comes to your health. And sleep is one of those factors!

Stress too.

This article mentioned that on average people check emails up to 37 times per HOUR. Yikes! And this doesn’t include text messages. We are over stimulated, my friends! Some people feel the urge to respond immediately to emails, even feeling guilty if they don’t. The terms “techno-stress”, “email stress”, and “screen addiction” were thrown around a little. And after reading these stats, I agree. In general, we have a screen addiction problem in America!

We can blame the brain for this one. 😉 The receipt of emails and tweets is accompanied by the release of Dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter. This is the same neurotransmitter associated with chemical addictions, or any addiction for that matter.

Keeping the stats going, fewer than half of employees nationwide leave their desk or workstation during their lunch hour. These peeps probably think they are being more productive, but this is really leading to higher stress and fatigue.

The article ended with a blurb about meditation and how it is the VERY thing that we all need to do on a regular basis to counteract these negative effects. Meditation (and it comes in many forms) improves sleep quality, decreases Cortisol levels, decreases chronic pain, increases immune function, decreases blood pressure, increases mental acuity, and improves overall mental well-being.

Damn Sam! You know if that were a pill EVERY SINGLE person would be taking it.

I thought this was a really great statement so am copying it word for word. “Remember, it is the ego that trips the fight or flight response. Mindfulness helps deactivate this switch to non-threatening times.”

I wish corporate wellness programs offered more training and instruction on meditation and mindfulness in the workplace, but we aren’t quite there yet. We still focus a little too much on nutrition and exercise. Everyone gets that eating an apple is better than apple pie and taking a walk is better than sitting on the couch. Hopefully soon we will all move to the more complex. Like meditation and improving sleep!

If you have never considered meditation, I highly encourage you to look into it just a tad. Even deep breathing for 5 minutes in the morning while laying in your bed is better than nothing! You will train that sweet, beautiful brain of yours to stay calm in times of stress. I like to switch things up whether it is a moving meditation (walking outdoors on a lunch break or a little morning yoga), guided meditation on CD, or simply deep breathing followed by a little journaling.

The cool thing about meditation is there is no right or wrong way to do it. And starting is the hardest part! Try it without judgment and see where your mindfulness journey takes you. It just might be magical!

How I Like to Manage Stress

How I Like To Manage Stress

Stress never goes away. Every single one of us will encounter stress on a regular basis. Since we can’t completely exterminate it, we have to learn to embrace and manage stress instead.

For me, the first four months of this year have been a little more stressful than normal. Surprisingly, I have felt happier than ever though!  It could be that most of my stress is from good things. But even more than that, I feel happy because of my attitude and priorities.

I made a commitment to enjoy and savor every moment of my wedding planning process (or as much as I can).

I made a commitment to put managing stress as top priority.

I think the first commitment is pretty self explanatory. Everyone wants to remember the little things leading up to their big day, as well as the day itself. I also wanted to celebrate with my fiancé on a regular basis. We had already made a commitment to each other by staying in the relationship for so long (going on 7 years), but are solidifying it by getting married. And it has been SO COOL to see how excited we both have been throughout these past several months.

The second commitment is a little more of a challenge. I think stress reduction and management tips are so individualized. What works for me may not work for you. And believe me, I have tried several things I thought would work because it worked for a health guru, but it left me feeling more stressed. Go figure! So, even though I am sharing a few tips that work for me I encourage you to experiment. Find what works best for you!

You can always try a class at the gym or maybe go for a walk solo. Sometimes your health insurance will even help you get going.For example, Oscar Health Insurance in New York and New Jersey gives their members free Misfit activity bands for tracking their steps and also offers reimbursements for gym and yoga studio memberships. I was asked by Oscar Health Insurance how I manage stress and after I responded I kept thinking… this would make a great blog post! So my props goes to them for this post.

Another thing I want to note before I get to my list is that trying to be perfect with stress management can backfire. Did you read that? It can cause more stress. I once set a goal to meditate every day for 15 minutes per day. I also had a misguided perception that this meant the 15 minutes had to be me in a dark room sitting cross-legged with light music and a candle. I had to focus on my breath and keep my mind calm. That didn’t last long for me. It wasn’t until I realized that meditation can be done in SO MANY WAYS that I could experiment and find different ways to meditate and kick my stupid goal to the curb. That was a goal that I ended up more stressed out over because I found myself not always wanting to sit in a dark room. Sometimes I wanted to get outside and move a little. Well strike the harp… moving meditation works! And is way more me.

Let’s get to it… here is my list of stress management techniques that work for me:

  1. Moving Meditation. Some days this looks like a 20 minute yoga session at home (usually with Yoga with Adriene or Tara Stiles with Strala Yoga.) Other days this looks like a 30-50 minute walk outdoors. When I walk outdoors, I always use my Ipod. I LOVE MUSIC! And you know what? Music can ease stress too.
  2. Putting the phone down before bed and reading a book or magazine. Oh man oh man, if I had a dime for every time I thought I could look at my phone before bed and sleep well I would be rich. I know the lesson, but don’t always follow it. However, when I do follow it I sleep like a baby. Not looking at the phone before bed is a game changer for stress reduction and improved sleep! No lie. So here’s to finding more books to read (as long as it isn’t a page turner that keeps me up too late). J
  3. Listening to a guided meditation. I have tried a few different guided meditations and I always turn to the ones from Deepak and Oprah. I love them! I have two: Desire and Destiny and then Perfect Health. I love listening to these every so often (~3 days per week) while on one of my outdoor walks. It is a 21 day guided meditation, but I don’t follow the days. I press shuffle!
  4. Bubble Bath, Tea, or Hot Tub. What do all of these have in common? HEAT! I love hot things… I know, that may sound weird, but I am in Texas after all. Plus, heat really does calm the body and ease the mind. I tend to grab a cup of hot tea, hot water with lemon, or a café misto during the day. If I really need to relax at the end of the day I will take a bubble bath. We also recently got a hot tub so sometimes I will choose that. Both are so soothing!

Now it is your turn, what works best for you?

Take Your Pick: Health Challenges

challenges

I know I have said this before, but I LOVE health challenges. I love them because they are a fun and simple way to create new habits or delete the old. Challenges give you stepping stones to reach a new goal… we are told to love the journey, right?

So, if you are like me… perhaps you are looking for a new health challenge to embark upon. I am thrilled to the nines for a January yoga challenge I just found out about. And I will mention it here, but since yoga isn’t currently everyone’s thang I have a list of five different health challenges you can do after the holidays.

I do not recommend doing all 5 at once unless you really do want to pull your hair out. Pick a couple and enjoy every moment!

This is not a “best of” list… just one that I put together after hearing of a few random challenges coming up. If you know of any more, please let me know. I particularly LOVE instagram photo challenges and have not seen one lately.

{Challenge #1} If you are like me and want to do a yoga challenge in January, I highly recommend the 30 days of yoga with Yoga With Adriene. You can click here to sign up for the challenge and find out more details. It is absolutely FREE!

{Challenge #2} If you are wanting to follow the next fad diet as your new year’s resolution, I highly recommend you don’t and instead break up with diets. My blogger friend and fellow dietitian has a free 21 day break up with diets forever challenge on her website. You can click here to sign up for the challenge. You will see the sign up at the top and side bar. Feel good in that body of yourS!

{Challenge #3} Have you EVER done a Tone It Up series? They NEVER disappoint and my favorite series is coming up in January, the Love Your Body Series. Tone It Up has not announced the series on their website yet, but it is usually announced the last few days of December. You can click here to visit their website and check back around December 29th. Or you can always check back on my blog. I will be participating in this again this year so will likely post about it.

{Challenge #4} Many of us have the nutrition and fitness down, but need help with stress management. Is that you? If so, try this free meditation challenge through One Mind Live. It’s only one week long and starts on December 24th, ending on January 1st. Just enough time to get you started on a meditation routine! You can click here to sign up.

{Challenge #5} Are you as in love with beachbody programs as I am? I have Turbofire, Insanity, and PIYO. I love them all, but am currently only doing PIYO. I haven’t done a beachbody challenge in awhile, but if you are wanting some extra support during your beachbody workouts I highly suggest hooking up with a beachbody coach for a challenge. Every coach and challenge is different, but the only investment is usually shakeology (which is very tasty!). I know some great coaches if you need recommendations and you can click on their name to be taken to their Facebook page: Johanna Hatcliff, Marisa Owen, and Laura O’Melia. You get hands on support during these challenges and can meet new peeps!

Alright, dear friends.. how is that to end the year and start anew in 2015? Wishing you well!

I play. I create. I succeed.

play

I listened to a thought provoking guided meditation yesterday and it was so on point I feel the need to share a little about it. Hoping it may inspire you as much as it inspired me. The mantra of the meditation was, “I play. I create. I succeed.”

The guided meditations that I use are with Oprah and Deepak Chopra. I love both of their voices and find them soothing so it works for me. It wouldn’t work for everyone! I get that. Anyway, Oprah introduces the topic for a couple minutes. Deepak Chopra takes over from there and expands on the topic. He also provides a mantra for the actual meditation portion. Then, meditation starts with calming music for ~10 or so minutes. I find that I get the most out of these meditations when I am walking so I like to participate in “moving meditation” as I like to call it.

Play. What do you think of when you hear that word? I think of children playing in the front yard with a dog, a ball, or just each other. I think of the memories I have with my brothers playing baseball in the front yard or hide and seek in the house. It was a VERY important piece of my childhood. I am sure it was important to you too.

Now when I think of the word in an adult sense, I get a little stumped. I don’t play often enough. My ideal forms of play include goofing off with my boyfriend on microphones (even though I don’t sing well), tricking the cats with crazy cat toys, dancing while I clean (that counts, right?), coloring or crafting things, running around in the yard with dogs or kids (even though I don’t have any of my own yet), and playing cards or board games with my extended family.

Play is important to adults… just as it is to kids. Playing helps our minds relax and not take things so seriously. We need time to play. It helps us create. It helps us show love in a different way. It allows us to give time to others. It allows us to laugh more, grow a new memory, and savor the moment that we are in. Play is beautiful!

I hope you will play a little this week.. or even a lot. I plan to focus on more play, that’s for sure. Life is fun.. and we should enjoy more of it! Don’t you agree?

Question of the day… what is your favorite form of play?