The latest book in my recommended reading list is Paul Huljich's Stress Pandemic: 9 Natural steps to Survive, Master Stress, and Live Well. It is a good overview, greatest-hits-of-health kind of book that is probably going to cover a lot of things you already know, but it's worth the refresher.
Spoiler Alert! None of the "9 Natural Steps" in this "Lifestyle Solution" is Massage Therapy. That being said, there is plenty of good stress management information here. What are the 9 steps?
1. Take Charge
2. Kick Your Bad Habits
3. Learn to Say No
8. The Power of Awareness
9. Don't Give Up
How do I apply these 9 steps to my life?
1. I take charge by researching methods to improve myself by reading books (like this one), watching documentaries (usually about health and nutrition), blogging about how I apply the stuff I learn (like I'm doing now), and I make a clear plan of attack utilizing moderate, attainable goals.
2. Everyone has bad habits. Mine include but are not limited to: staying up late, Chinese buffets, and being a workaholic.Some have easy solutions, like going to bed earlier and avoiding Chinese buffets. The workaholism, however, takes some more planning to better prioritize my time. The trick is to be aware of the bad habits and make positive strides in the right direction, once you recognize your less desirable trends.
3. Saying "No" is hard for me, see the aforementioned workaholism, because I usually have a multitude of good options of things to do with my time and energy. I'm always needing to say no to stuff I actually want to do. Also, because I am constantly cranking the gears in my introverted head, I have many ideas and projects in development, which are hard to put aside. Prioritizing is big on this one too.
4. I have to admit, I have a huge ego. I rarely need affirmations, from myself or others, to boost my mood or self esteem. I don't spend much time looking in the mirror talking myself up, but I don't want to discount that as a good practice for many people for stress reduction, to gain perspective about their self image.
5. Personally, my favorite exercise is bike riding. I am a "bicyclist" and not a "cyclist" for many reasons, but the stress related to being a "cyclist" is the primary one. More on that dynamic in a later post. Since we moved into an apartment, I walk our tall leggy greyhound mix dog 3 times a day for about a half mile each walk. This relieves my stress immensely, because it gets me going first thing in the morning and helps me decompress from work as I look at the stars and breath in fresh air at the end of the day. Since we moved, we are also much closer to several gorgeous beaches. Some within biking distance. If you're stressed while walking on the beach, you have bigger problems than this massage therapist can fix.
|Watching the sunset this evening, from my bike seat.|
6. There was a lot of good nutrition info in the book. I love my veggie juice, Nutribullet smoothies, and mono-meals. The juice and smoothies help me boost my intake of healthful foods in a quick and easy way. One food mono-meals, like eating a bunch of bananas for dinner at work, keeps things simple. It takes about 30 seconds to prep my lunch before I leave the house. It's super easy for my body to burn the food when it's one ingredient, and I don't have to leave work, wait in a line at a restaurant, and rush back in time to eat it.
7. Like I said above, my natural tendency is to stay up late and sleep less than I should. Lately, I've been listening to brain wave based, sleep enhancing music which is supposed to enhance the quality of the sleep. I am also striving towards consistency in terms of sleeping the same 8 hours every night, at the same room temperature, and with a sleeping mask.
8. Awareness, in my opinion, should be #1 on this list. Knowing what is stressing you is the first step to "Master Stress" so you can "Live Well." Either way, journaling (blogging in my case) to document what's going on in your life is a good way to be aware. Reading books like this one is also a good start to identify major, common stressors.
9. Don't give up. That one is hard to put a tangible description on. I guess I do it by using a results based approach. When I want to give up on something, I re-examine the results I want and what I'm doing wrong. If I don't know what's wrong with my routine/methods/practices, I hit the books and search the internet for better info. If I can find people who are getting the results I want, I am encouraged that it is possible to achieve, if I can learn how they did it.