2014 is going to be the year you take control of your health and feed your body what it needs to be healthy, radiant and bounding with energy. It all comes down to the simple choices you make throughout the day. With healthy decisions, feeling great and losing weight happen naturally.
In our Simple Steps to Perfect Health & Wellness Series, we will be presenting healthy lifestyle suggestions based on 20 years of personal research, to help you make informed choices that will have you feeling and looking terrific. The series will cover a variety of topics including diet, exercise, stress reduction, mental health, relationships, and more. We wish you a Perfectly Healthy New Year!
Are You Stressed Out? 11 Simple Steps to Joy
I am wrapping up the Perfect Health and Wellness Series with an article about stress reduction and joy. This article also includes a list of personal growth resources that I have found most helpful. Happiness, health, and stress; they are all connected. Just about every choice we make in our lives brings us closer to health and joy, or stress and dis-ease. Let’s take a look at the easiest ways to choose joy.
1. Sleep Baby, Sleep
This may be the healthy choice that I struggle with the most; but I continue to strive for the 7 hour goal. There is no doubt that when I am sleep deprived, my entire life suffers; physical lack of energy, mental fog, and emotionally short tempered. If you have trouble sleeping, check out www.sleepfoundation.org for sleep tips. In my relatively small circle of family and close friends, three people use a Sleep Apnea CPAP machine to help them sleep better; your local sleep clinic can test to see if this is right for you. You deserve a good night’s sleep!
2. Whole, Nourishing Food; Fuel for Your Amazing Life
Your body is an energy generator, and food is the fuel. Choose wisely! The first four articles in the series are all about whole food basics; 8 Most Nourishing Foods, 10 Worst Industrial Foods, Helpful Tips and Best Habits for healthy eating. The last three articles include dozens of easy recipes; Whole Food Breakfasts, Quick and Satisfying Snacks, and Family Favorite Dinners. You cannot fuel your amazing life on donuts and Big Macs.
3. “You’ve Got to Move It, Move It!”
My children tease me because I can turn almost any sentence into a song. But hey, it’s more fun to sing it! And, it’s more fun to move it! That’s right, physical activity is an excellent stress reducer. It actually releases Endorphins (feel good hormones). Check out the series articles to learn about the benefits of exercise (beyond weight loss), a review of 8 workout programs, and an interview with Fitness Expert Shawn Stevenson. Find the physical activity that makes you want to “Move it!”
4. Nature Heals Me
When I am feeling stressed out, nothing helps as much as fresh air and sunshine. For me, a walk in the woods is ideal; but find your own thing. Visit a park, the ocean, or the mountains. Bike riding, skateboarding, or rollerskating. Fishing, swimming, or skimming rocks. Soccer, basketball, or tennis. Find the place that heals you.
5. Everyone Suffers
The first noble truth of the Buddha is “everyone suffers”. The question is, how do we deal with our suffering. Our natural instinct is to run away from it, bury it, or ignore it. Unfortunately, these tactics don’t really work, and our suffering tends to rear its ugly head in inappropriate anger, depression, or anxiety. A good therapist can help. I have also found the following resources beneficial for transforming suffering into joy.
- Loving What Is – by Byron Katie
- The Dark Side of the Light Chasers – by Deborah Ford
- Reconciliation – by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
According to UMASS Medical Center, “Mindfulness is a way of taking charge of your life [and] systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life.” Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) is a 30 year old, scientifically researched, 8 week intensive course to help people who suffer from extreme stress, chronic pain and illness, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, or headaches. If you would like to learn more about mindfulness in an informal setting you can find local and free instructional meetings.
There is so much to feel grateful about every single moment of every day. If you enjoy a warm and safe home, a comfortable bed, hot running water, and enough food to eat, you are more fortunate than many human beings. If you enjoy the ability to walk, to see the blue sky, and to hear the laughter of a child, you can rejoice in these gifts.
8. Looking for Inspiration?
I receive monthly inspiration for living my best life from my subscription to Success Magazine. Written for small business owners, the content is really about succeeding in life. Every month, the magazine is accompanied by a CD that is packed with interesting and informative interviews. I highly recommend this reasonably priced subscription.
“Over 100 studies have linked strong social relationships to lower mortality.”
Patty Onderko, Contributing Editor, Success
It is definitely worth your time and energy to nurture relationships with the most important people in your life, including partners, family, and friends.
For improving communication with everyone you meet, I recommend Nonviolent Communication – by Marshall Rosenberg.
If you are involved in a partnership, the health of that relationship is critical to your overall happiness.
My absolute favorite relationship book is The Five Love Languages – by Gary Chapman. This book can save marriages.
Taking care of children is a demanding job. My husband and I often wonder, “What did we used to do with all our free time?” Simply keeping track of five schedules is exhausting. And yet, being a mom definitely brings me more joy than anything else. Parenting also encourages personal growth, because my children deserve the best me.
Here are a few books that have helped relieve some of my parenting stress.
- Everyday Blessings – by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Simplicity Parenting – by Kim John Payne
- Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy – by Michael Bradley
11. “Oh, Ya Gotta Have Friends”
(I know, more singing, I can’t resist!) I love my husband and my children, but it’s my gal pals that really save my sanity. Love you guys! I make it a priority to connect with friends (in person, not only internet) on a regular basis.
Please share your favorite, healthy stress-reducer. Do you have a favorite personal growth resource? We would love to hear about it!
Continue Reading Our Perfect Health & Wellness Series:
- Top Ten Simple Steps to Perfect Health & Wellness
- Eight Most Nourishing Foods – Premium Fuel for Your Amazing Life
- Ten Worst Industrial Food Ingredients
- Top Tips For Healthy Eating, Check Your Perfection At The Door
- The #1 Habit to Improve the Quality of Your Food
- 4 Simple Steps to Avoid GMOs
- 10 Toxic Chemicals in Your Environment That Can Make You Sick
- Do Not Exercise For Weight Loss
- Whats Your Style? A Review of 8 Exercise Routines
- Shattering Exercise Myths With Fitness Expert Shawn Stevenson
- Are Cold Breakfast Cereals Poisonous? 5 Simple Whole Food Breakfast Recipes
- Drop The Junk Food: 10 Quick Satisfying Whole Food Snack Ideas
- Yes, You Can Cook from Scratch! 8 Simple, Family Favorite Dinners