We live in a world overrun by stress. Global urbanization, competition and the spread of technology have created a world in which access to information has become an obligation and necessity. People are now held accountable for their actions and whereabouts 24/7 and they are losing both their privacy and down time.
In addition, we are continually under assault on a physical level, with our environment filled with never-before-seen levels of toxicity. From the food we eat to the air we breathe, our bodies are under siege by the toxins and chemicals we have introduced into our cities, our homes and our food.
In short the unforgiving pace and complexity of modern life has greatly challenged our ability to live healthily and fully in the present moment. While stress is omnipresent in each of our lives to varying degrees, it has reached a point of sweeping concern; a stress pandemic which we must address and conquer in order to survive.
I wrote my book Stress Pandemic: The Lifestyle Solution as a way to teach a healthier lifestyle to others suffering from stress.
When I suffered a full mental breakdown fifteen years ago as the result of unchecked stress, I was forced to reevaluate my entire approach to life.
My research and experience led to the development of nine natural steps that ultimately enabled me to achieve a recovery that multiple doctors told me would never be possible. This lifestyle solution offers profound benefits which fortify anyone experiencing mild, moderate, or severe stress levels in their life, and I’d like to touch on three of those nine steps: Learning to Say No, Nutrition, and The Power of Awareness.
Step Three, “Learn to Say No” –The ability to say no is one of the most important ingredients in a life filled with peace of mind and contentment. To beat stress, we need to be true to ourselves. Whenever we are not true to ourselves, we create disharmony that is painful or that gradually festers and saps our life of joy. By learning to say no to whatever is detrimental to your well-being and instead following your innermost feelings, you will eventually experience a strong sense of contentment in your life and in the decisions you make.
It’s easy to over-commit or over-push ourselves, and no one else knows our thoughts and feelings with certainty, so it is up to us to set our own boundaries. In my own experience, I realized at one time that I wasn’t even aware of what my true feelings were on a lot of matters. I had become so accustomed to wanting to please others, especially those I cared about, that I found it very difficult to say no or to tell the truth about what I thought. I had to train myself, which took time.
During this period of readjustment, I would at times agree to something that I later wished I hadn’t, or vice versa. It was a process of reprogramming.
Step Six, “Nutrition” – This is a step that encompasses a passion that has long been close to my heart, dating back to my work in the fledgling organic foods industry of New Zealand in the early 1980’s. This is also one of the areas in which one can most immediately bring effective change into one’s life.
My approach to a healthy diet is to identify health-supporting foods and eating patterns, and then base your diet around these while eliminating or greatly reducing harmful or unnatural foods and patterns. Try to cut the C-R-A-P (an acronym for coffee, refined sugar, alcohol and highly processed food) from your diet and eat organic, natural foods whenever possible.
Minimizing dairy intake can also be very beneficial. The negative effects of eating dairy products outweigh the benefits, due to their high animal fat content and mucus-forming properties that tax the body—and many of their prized nutrients are found in high concentrations in other foods, such as leafy greens.
Our bodies possess and often overlooked “Second Brain” which is a vast network of neurons lining our guts. This “Second Brain” is a guru of intestinal intelligence that influences our moods, what we eat, the kinds of diseases we get, as well as the decisions we make.
These “gut instincts” reveal that what we eat greatly influences our “Second Brain’s” digestion; this little brain in our innards (which produces 95% of serotonin the body needs) partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.
One of the most powerful nutritional rituals you can introduce to your daily routine is that of fresh vegetable juicing, and the benefits are numerous. Use a juicer that operates at a low temperature and using only fresh and organic vegetables (the book itself contains instructions if organic produce is not available). My preferred recipe is a combination of carrots, spinach, broccoli, celery, red peppers, green beans and an apple.
Step Eight, “Awareness” –The fundamental factor that determines our progress in any endeavor or change we are pursuing in our lives is awareness. One can develop a strong sense of awareness and use this as the barometer for thoughts, feelings, emotions, and moods. I see the power of awareness as stemming from two distinct areas.
First, by applying your power of awareness to your thought patterns, desires, and their consequences, you empower yourself to make decisions based on wisdom. Second, as you continue your practice of the steps, your awareness of the present moment will develop and strengthen, opening the way to true peace and contentment.
This catalyzing force, when used in conjunction with the other changes we are making in our lives, is what enables us to free ourselves from stress and enjoy what life truly has to offer. In doing so, we will have something of real value to share with our loved ones and the world at large.
I hope through this simple, healthy way of life I can help prevent stress from destroying people’s lives. By implementing my 9 easy lifestyle steps, you can help free yourself from daily stress and work toward achieving a happier and healthier state of mind and life!
(this post also appears at: http://www.groundreport.com/Health_and_Science/Stress-in-the-World-Today/2947973)