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?

My Weakest Link with Healthy Living

My Weakest Link

Weaknesses. We all got ’em. And we don’t always like ’em. Am I right?!? So, I talk a lot about healthy living and wellness. It is a wellness blog, after all. But, I also try to make a point that even within healthy living, perfection is NOT the goal.

I think it is important for people to talk about the hard stuff. Let’s take shame out of the equation by opening up and sharing obstacles, barriers, weaknesses, and feelin’ straight up like poo. Yes, I just said poo. I know you feel like it sometimes. I do. Although, do we really know what poo feels like? Probably not. But you get me.

So today with the Dish the Fit link up (thank you The Fit Switch and The Fit Pepper), I am going deep with one of my weakest links with healthy living. Drum roll, please…

STRESS

When I am a little stress cookie, my personality changes. I turn into a little monster. I have a short fuse, feel like the world is crashing down on me, want to be alone, and often eat more than my fair share of sweets. I can easily get into the “all or nothing” mentality during high levels of stress too. Meaning… “Don’t have time for a workout? Fine. I won’t eat healthy either. And add a Root Beer with a side of cookies to that order. Thanks!” Quite frankly, I take a day to not be me. I don’t feel like myself when I am stressed so often cope with ways that are totally outside of who I am.

And you know what? I think it is supposed to happen that way. Eating differently and not having a desire to move are not the issue. They are symptoms. They are my body’s way of telling me… “Hey Bri, you kinda need to do something with this stress. I mean, like, NOW. Deal with it!”

Since I know I turn into a different person when I am stressed out, I see two options to improve this little bad habit of mine. 1) Reduce my stress, especially if I am seeing more of the stress cookie personality than I would like in a given month. We can’t completely eliminate stress, but reducing and managing stress are important. 2) Change the way I feel about stress. Instead of crippling into this different personality, I can take time to truly feel the stress and dissect it. Why am I feeling stressed? What would truly make me feel better? Getting help from someone, changing up a deadline, taking a creativity break, talking it out with someone, etc? Wow, so many options!

Or perhaps a good combo of both options would do me some good. Some things in life are way easier said than done, but are still worth a shot. Again, it’s always about progress and not perfection. I may still have days where the stress cookie shows up. Hopefully I can learn to punch her in the face. But, until then, I know that one day is not going to kill me. Getting up and at ’em that very next day (or in two to three days) is better than giving up the healthy life altogether.

Before I sign off, I have to say one thing… Love yourself, weaknesses and all. That’s way more important than anything else within health and wellness. Loving yourself is the foundation. Moving more, eating right, getting sleep, reducing stress, being financially fit, and all of the above are secondary.

So, now that we are sharing… what about you? What is your weakest link? It’s okay to talk about it. No shame, here!

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