Problem. Restless. Question. Hard working. Very busy. Sad. Most of us have these things most of the time. Our schedules are full and we spend time worrying about our to-do list, our kids and our food. We are very busy with exercise. Many of us eat our meals at our desks at work or doing a lot of work with an electronic device. I find that sometimes I don’t make eye contact with the person I’m talking to, as I’m busy doing something else, while talking a lot. Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises are all the rage, but what if we can’t find a minute for ourselves, leaving five more for a meditation app?
We’re back from the flu, baby. We do! We’re meeting again and if we don’t do that, we do! With the shift to work-from-home, remote jobs have become both a blessing and a curse. Banks don’t work 9 to 5. We are all available anytime, anywhere. That’s what most of us expect from family time, “me” time and … our health!
My mother thought. A while. He goes through stages. He was trained in Transcendental Meditation years ago and is religious about meditating twice a day for 20 minutes when he sits in one of his meditation sessions. I remember him sitting in the car before we entered a restaurant, having second thoughts. He thought shamelessly in front of people. It’s amazing! I cringed in embarrassment when he said it in front of friends.
Years later, I was living in New York as a troubled and anxious 25-year-old. He supported my Transcendental Meditation practice. I used it often and devoted myself to it on equal occasions, but I never made it a part of my life as it should be.
As more scientific knowledge emerges about meditation, it becomes a very interesting activity. In fact, regular meditation helps reduce all-cause mortality by up to 23 percent. Um… something to reduce our time to cut from everything to a quarter? Sign me up!
Keep calm and carry on?These words are often frowned upon and perhaps even: “Keep calm and eat chocolate.” “Keep calm and pretend it’s Friday.” All good ideas in theory, but not in reality. Being quiet, having no idea about what to do, is hard! We are programmed to wake up to fight or flight. It’s instinct. If it is life or death, according to the nature of our lives, we cannot sit still and continue! So, how do we manage our daily stress and anxiety? It is not a secret that stress is the cause of the disease and that it can help other diseases.
ThinkingOf course, it’s no secret that meditation helps us focus and relax. I actually remember my mom crying when she thought about it. (I wonder if I should do the same!?) Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, aid sleep and help increase positivity. Using common sense to prevent anxiety, rather than correcting it (like I use it) is better. It has been shown to help prevent memory loss as we age. We don’t have to sit down to think for 20 or 10 minutes. Most mental health programs offer one to five minute options.
Don’t play the what-ifsMy daughter told me the other day, “Mom, you’re playing the ‘what-if’ game!” It’s true. I did worry about things in July, most of which were out of my control. Try talking to yourself if you find yourself focusing on things that are out of your control, or have time to think about them.
Use a server toolA mantra is a great way to bring yourself back to center even when you’re not thinking about it. Something that can be used to focus and isolate yourself. After spending some time in a second grade classroom last week, I saw the teacher handing out a silver heart to the student who had the chance to speak. When the others disappeared and interrupted, he pointed out that because they didn’t have the thing, it wasn’t their turn to speak. It may sound corny (pun intended,) but sometimes it’s better to go back (like going back to second grade). Focus on the task at hand and take it one step at a time. It’s much smaller in that sense.
Be crazyThere are many articles that show ways to stay calm to list things that we think are funny. Dancing? Writing it down? Breathing out, chewing gum or squeezing a stress ball? Although these may seem cliché or convoluted, they are important relaxation tools in their own way. One of my favorite things to do is create a gratitude list. Writing, or thinking about the things we appreciate (and we have some) is a great way to lift our spirits and our worries.
The night before my wedding, a friend left a note that read, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s very small. That’s the best advice and I often think about it when I’m stressing about the little things, that can’t be done, but don’t matter! Make a list of the little things you appreciate. Whether it’s the clothes on your back or what you woke up to today, it’s something that other people don’t have. Start small and the rest will follow.
Holiday foodsAbout 18 percent of the population, or about 40,000 Americans, have experienced anxiety disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Many of us worry every day, so much so that it has become part of our daily vocabulary.
Eating well is key to helping any type of health, but certain foods help us relax and reduce stress. We are supposed to keep our blood pressure from falling, which only adds to our anxiety and feeling hangry.
Magnesium is important in reducing anxiety-related behaviors, according to an article published by Harvard University. Foods high in magnesium include leafy greens, avocados, nuts and seeds, beans, and whole grains.
Zinc is a powerful mineral when it comes to enhancing mood. Beef liver, fish (especially oysters), egg yolks, beans, nuts and seeds are high in zinc.
Omega-3s are preferred in essential fatty acids found in healthy fats such as wild-caught salmon, olive oil and avocado. They can play a role in relieving anxiety.
Antioxidants have a protective effect on everything these days, but it’s true that many foods are colorful. Since they help with cell repair and can delay cell death, look for dark-colored fruits (no Cheetos please) to help with overall health.
Fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha help the stomach. What helps the gut, helps the mood.
Since pistachios are high in melatonin, try this nut butter recipe to help you relax dooownnnnn.