Day 5, Don’t Be Shy: Self.com’s 14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!

Day 5 Task Completion Status: Success! Well, sort of.

Continue reading “Day 5, Don’t Be Shy: Self.com’s 14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!”

Day 4, Forgive Them (and Yourself): Self.com’s 14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!

Curiously, forgiveness and stress have something in common: In order to successfully navigate either of them you have to be  willing to let go.

Continue reading “Day 4, Forgive Them (and Yourself): Self.com’s 14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!”

DAY 3, Combating (Unhealthy) Comparisons: SELF.COM’S 14 DAYS TO A HAPPIER, HEALTHIER YOU!

One of the Operation Beautiful notes that I posted this year. To learn more about this project, go here: http://bit.ly/wOjWn7 , Photo Credit: © Anita George 2012

Stop comparing yourself to others. Do it. Right now.

You’re doing it anyway aren’t you? On Facebook. On LinkedIn. In every magazine and newspaper you read. Even at dinner among your friends.

It’s hard to just stop. At least that’s what I’ve learned today. In attempting to complete Day 3’s task, I realized that on the road to reducing those troublesome comparisons you have to take it one thought at a time. You have to remind yourself that everyone has their own path and that just because the grass seems greener on the other side, you’ve no idea about the struggle it took to get it that way or if it’s even grass at all: it could just be barren earth covered in AstroTurf.

Comparisons are especially addictive when you feel terrible about yourself. Sometimes we use them to make ourselves feel better in some small shallow way at someone else’s expense. Other times we punish ourselves for past mistakes or opportunities not taken by beating ourselves up with other people’s success.

(Sometimes comparisons can be good. It can be a way to learn about the people around us and a way to motivate us to be better people. But today is about reducing unhealthy, negative comparisons which can trigger stress and anxiety.)

What really helped me to combat my (negative) comparative thoughts today was this quotation from the Day 3 section of the 14 Days article:

 “If you must compare, gauge how you’re doing now against who you were last year. ‘Do a better deed today than you did yesterday,’ says Dan Baker, Ph.D., author of What Happy People Know.”

Baker went on to say this:

Instead, “nurture your own growth, which will make you happier still.”

That last bit about nurturing my own growth really resonated with me. Things have gotten better since last year. I’m working again. I’m writing more often. I have a clearer plan for what I want to do with my life. My social life has bounced back. I still have things I’d like work on and they will require hard work but I’m at a point now where I’m feeling stronger every day, and getting strong enough to work toward how I want my life to be.

Today, once I started thinking about how much better things are now, I thought less about how I measured up against other people’s accomplishments and I was able to relax a bit. It’s not about them. They’re on a different path.

It’s freeing to just stay focused on my own path and what I have to do. It’s like a hundred less worries to worry about.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your opinions, questions and stories!

I’d also like to thank SELF Magazine for posting the article,“14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!” which inspired this blog post.

Also, I’d like to thank Dan Baker, Ph.D., the author of What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better,  for sharing his thoughts on comparisons   in the Day 3 section of the 14 Days article.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a lovely day!

Day 2, Just Breathe and Do Cardio: SELF.COM’S 14 DAYS TO HAPPIER, HEALTHIER YOU!

Day 2 was not as easy as Day 1. But I think it turned out to be more rewarding.

Day 1 was about letting yourself have tiny treats throughout the day; the idea being that if you indulge too much in fun things like ice cream, the joy you get from it will diminish over time. In performing this task yesterday and today, I have found that while I do enjoy YouTube videos and desserts more when I watch and consume less of them, a source of stress does surface if you plan out these fun moments too much. So today, though I limited the amount of the fun activities I enjoy in time spent and how much I consumed, I didn’t worry about when or how to do them. I just did them when I wanted to and I think today ended up little less tense than yesterday.

Day 2’s task wasn’t an all-day commitment like Day 1. Just 11 or 21 minutes of moderate to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise. But if you haven’t done cardio in about two years like me, then those first 11 or 21 minutes will be rough.

The exercise routine I used today was from this Self.com article.  I picked Stacy Berman’s cardio circuit workout routine because it was a simple cardio routine that I could do at home, without equipment and it takes 20 minutes to do; just one minute less than one of the minimums suggested by the 14 Days article.

It looks like a simple routine, but don’t let the descriptions and photos fool you. Initially, I doubted that I’d even break a sweat. Wrong. So wrong. Broke a sweat. Got my heart pumping. And I swear every muscle felt the burn. Originally I planned to shoot for the 21 minutes, but as I neared the halfway mark, I realized if I pushed myself any more I’d really hurt myself. So I stopped at 12 minutes. One minute more than the 11-minute minimum mentioned in the 14 Day article. (And yes, I counted the minutes of rest required by the exercise article in my total. I figured that the whole point of this task is to get my heart pumping, which it did at a pretty fast rate even during rest, so it counts.) I hope to able to perform the exercise for 21 minutes as the project goes on, but for now I think 12 minutes is a great start! On to the post-workout notes!

How I felt: The Immediate Effects

Initially, after the workout ended I felt tired and a little nauseous. And I wondered how I was going to feel less stressed if I felt so exhausted. I did love how my heart was pumping while I exercised though. I also felt a bit negative about not being able to hit 21 minutes as I’d originally planned. But I was also proud of myself for finishing today’s task.

How I Feel Now (Hours Later)

I feel much calmer. Especially since I treated myself to a YouTube video afterwards to get my mind off of the nausea. The exhausted feelings have worn off for the most part and I just feel energized. Usually, it’s hard for me to write at night, but I have to because I often don’t have time otherwise. But tonight, I feel ready and eager to write. I’m also more proud of myself for achieving today’s goal and less down on myself for not lasting 21 minutes. Overall, I’d say I feel relaxed and (slightly) less worried about things.

I’d say so far in this project I’ve learned three important things about myself and how to handle stress:

  1. I like how exercise makes me feel afterwards. Cardio is hard work but I think it’s worth it to feel this relaxed.
  2. Limiting some of the fun things in life to small bursts throughout the day instead of gorging on them all at once keeps me pretty happy for longer so long as…
  3. I don’t worry too much about how things turn out. Letting go of certain expectations I have of how things should turn out in favor of just enjoying whatever I do for what they are is probably one of the best ways to reduce stress.  I need to just go with the flow a bit more.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your opinions, questions and stories! Or even if you have any other ideas for fun, exercise routines to do, please feel free to tell me!

I’d also like to thank SELF Magazine for posting the article,“14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!” which inspired this blog post.

Also, I’d like to thank Stacy Berman, the founder of Stacy’s Bootcamp in NYC for her cardio circuit workout routine that was featured in this article  also published by Self Magazine.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a lovely day!