All posts in “rest”

Meditation – It’s Not Just for Stinky Hippies

In our podcast series I have the opportunity to interview industry leaders, top performers, athletes and entrepreneurs.

The first question we ask is focused on how people start the day – the first 60 minute routine.

Without fail I hear the same types of answers.

1. Some type of physical activity (remind me to tell you about the Richard Branson story)

2. Read or Study

3. Meditation

If top performers follow a recipe for what makes them great, how could I not try to attempt to emulate some aspects of these practices? Meditation was the one missing building block from my daily routine. When I thought of meditation I immediately thought of a some dude in dreads stinking of patchouli oil. Or a calm monk on the tibet mountain side sitting and chanting for hours.  As closely as I resemble neither of these characters I was a bit turned off by it all. That all changed when I actually started doing basic mediation to start the day. There was one thing that made this super easy for me. It starts as only 10 minutes a day for 10 days. I was I was turned on to the app Headspace. 

At Headspace we believe there is nothing more important than looking after the health of the mind, so we’ve made it our mission to get people everywhere to look after this precious resource by sitting to meditate for a few minutes a day, everyday. When this simple activity is considered no more strange than taking a shower, we’ll have achieved our aim.

For thousands of years, meditators have claimed many benefits for their practice. Our experience, and that of Headspace members, suggests that regular mindfulness practice, through meditation, is an effective treatment for stress, worry, lack of focus, relationship problems, addictions and more. It leads to peace of mind and wellbeing, greater focus and creativity and better relationships.

By using the Take 10 series, a free 10 day guided introduction into meditation – I feel a huge difference. You can read all kinds of benefits of meditation. Here at the top 3 things I noticed after just a few sessions:

  1. Stress Levels Decreased
  2. My ability to Respond vs React Increased
  3. Mental Clarity Increased

As a natural sceptic on most things health related – I have to say that although I went in with an open mind, there was a bit of doubt in the back of my mind. This is not uncommon as I think most people in general are a bit skeptical. Below is a great graphic that outlines some of the biggest misconceptions of meditation.

 

meditation 1

– Source: www.happify.com

Here is what I can say – after meditating now for 30 days, I mentally feel stronger and emotionally in balance than ever before.

We all have busy schedules. It’s not about finding time, it is about making time. Making time for the things that are important.

Here is a snap shot of my morning routine. 

  1. Wake up at 6:15AM
  2. Drink 32 ounces of ice water with a pinch of Himalayan salt.  I do this to kick start my metabolism and to hydrate first thing
  3. Stretch for 10-15 minutes
  4. Meditate for 10 minutes
  5. Read for 30 minutes
  6. Work Out: 30-40 minutes of cardio with 30-40 minutes of strength & conditioning
  7. Kick the day in the ass

Get your mind right!
Cheers,

The Healthy Primate

 

 

I’m Getting Fat While I Sleep – Is This Normal?

Good morning! Let’s start todays post with a simple question. How did you sleep?

How did you feel falling asleep last night? Did you fall right to sleep or did you lay awake struggle to get to sleep?
How did you feel when you woke up this morning? Are you refreshed or do you feel like you were run over by a truck and need to go back to bed? Are you groggy and tired until your morning cup of coffee?

Today’s post is close to me. I average roughly 5-6 hours of sleep a day. Yet this is not a solid sleep pattern, I toss turn, get up and down and struggle to sleep most nights. There are many factors that lead me to where I am personally in my sleep patterns.
Our days are packed with activities, in most cases from the minute we wake up. As our minds often fall into auto pilot, we can’t say the same for some of our bodies more sophisticated mechanisms that maintain our physiology and psychology.

Getting too little sleep can and will undermine your productivity, effectiveness & recovery needed to get ahead.
You know sleep is important, yet when you look at why you may hit a mental stumbling block in the day, become short tempered, become more irritable or simply stressed – you have to look at sleep as one of your core building blocks.

There are some core performance, health and happiness triggers associated with sleep.

  • Vitality & The Brain: Neurocognitive functions are extremely vulnerable during sleep loss. Think of your short term memory, mental sharpness, ability to make crisp decisions and response times to critical thinking.
  • Mood: This one hits me first. Short tempered, quick to bite back when challenged or frustrated. Sleep deprivation impairs the mood more than cognitive and physical performance. Sleep may help reduce your reaction of being an ass. Well that is what my wife tells me she notices when I sleep better.
  • Stress: One of the main chemicals in your body is effected during sleep. Cortisol – remember this word as it will be very prevalent in our conversations around stress reduction and management in the future. During sleep, our levels of cortisol decrease and our body secretes more growth hormone, which is key to recovery and muscle repair. Without the proper sleep our cortisol levels remain elevated. This keeps the body at a state of alertness and keeps the blood pressure elevated. These higher levels of cortisol put the brain in an emotional rework or rewire of the circuitry that keep the brain in extended arousal.
  • Weight Gain: Sleep helps our body regulate essential aspects of our metabolic system. Sleep loss studies show change in appetite, insulin release and our body’s use of glucose. With lack of sleep our bodies also produce more ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

What can you do to get rested, sleep better and overall reap the benefits of a good night sleep?

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule: Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This would include your holidays, weekends, and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night.
  2. Watch what you eat and drink before bed: Don’t over eat at dinner or go to bed hungry. The discomfort will for sure keep you up. Go pee before you hit the sheets! Try to limit how much you drink before bed, this will prevent that middle of the night pee break.
  3. Create a bedtime ritual: Try to do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. By creating a consistent routine your mind and body will become accustom to shutting down. Some recommendations in this routine can include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to music. Try these things with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
  4. Unplug! Be wary of using the TV, computer or your phone as part of your bedtime ritual. Research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep.
  5. Don’t stay in bed tossing and turning awake: If you can’t asleep within 30 minutes, change your environment. Go to another room, read – stay in a restful state of mind. Go back to bed when you’re tired. If you stress over falling asleep, you might find it even tougher to nod off.

You have most likely heard some of these recommendations, as this is not new information. Yet have you applied anything? Remember how the post started – How did you feel when you woke up today? If you have additional feedback on things that have worked for you, we would love to hear from you in the comments.

Cheers!
Kolby

Healthly Options to Reduce Stress – A Discussion

I recently polled our newsletter subscribers and asked them one question.

“What is one thing that interests you about stress reduction?”

Hundreds of people responded with a very similar answer.

“What are the healthy options to help reduce stress?”

That is a really dynamic question to answer and can be sliced into a few categories. When you Google “how do I reduce stress?” over 29 million results come up. There are lots of opinions on what people think will work. You would think the answer is relatively easy. For sure someone has figured it out right?

A few of the top things that came up as dove into the options.

  • Mediate
  • Breathe Deeply
  • Slow Down
  • Laugh
  • Music
  • Exercise
  • Drink Tea
  • Be Grateful
  • Sleep
  • Medicate

When you break down the science of our bodies, you have to understand what chemicals actually cause stress. I will cover that in a separate post. But why do some of us deal with stress different than others?

For example in the 8 years that I have been married, I don’t think I have ever seen my mother in law upset. This is in 6 hour car rides to California with 4 kids. This is working as a teacher putting in long hours and still making dinner when she comes home. This is calmly asking my 3 year old son Noah to stop throwing the toys at his sister. Me on the other hand have had to catch myself from diving out the window of a moving car to avoid losing it.

I would love to hear some of your thoughts on dealing with stress and what you have found to be successful. If you are not into yoga, meditating or working out – what can you do? The numbers will say that 80% of Americans don’t participate in the previous mentioned activities. So how do most cope?

Medication, alcohol, drugs, food, indulgence.

We are going to break down the science of how your body produces stress, ways to curb the stimulant and with healthy activity actually getting into amazing mental shape. I have become a human guinea pig over the past 60 days, keeping a journal my progress in the day and evening. I have felt more focused and less edgy than in years remembered.

Let’s not get it twisted; there is no magic pill that will solve things. Just a few options to assist in controlling what gets produced when stress is created.

I am a pretty passionate dude, who still feels a bit edgy. Not sure that will ever change.

But hey that is who I am – and that’s ok with me.

Cheers,

Kolby