In the last topic we saw how stress and sleep were two major causes for your obesity issues.
So in this topic, we will look at some practical solutions for them… beginning with…
First and foremost, sleep habits are very closely linked to stress.
When you improve your sleep quality, you reduce stress, when you reduce stress, your body is MUCH more inclined to return to its best natural state and shape.
But stress, it attacks you slowly but effectively and often you wouldn’t notice it at first…
Plus, the kind of stress that we humans experience really does not exist in other species.
Extreme example – A deer gets highly stressed when a predator chases her, and assuming it doesn’t catch her, the deer quickly relaxes after the chase and is back on the grazing lands the very next hour, as if nothing happened!
Not much luck there for us humans, imagine going to the office like a deer with no stress, just grazing away… yep… almost impossible!
Point being – nature did intend and prepare us for small bursts of stress, even extreme stress… but… only for a limited time. We are not supposed to be under stress for weeks and months.
Yes, you can endure a decent amount of stress every day if you are getting enough quality sleep.
But are most of us? Definitely not.
In fact, here’s the vicious sleep cycle in all it’s glory…
More stress leading to more cortisol leading to less sleep leading to more stress… and on, and on…
Next, here’s an example of internal stress…
So your boss says he wants a particular job done by Monday and it is 4PM on a Friday and you are like “I was going to leave the office in 30 minutes and you just gave me 10 hours of work to do!”
So you start to think about the pressure, you think about your boss, curse him, and you slowly get worked up.
God, I hate this guy, God I hate this job… this mental state leads to a physiological stress response.
The thoughts in your head release Cortisol, release adrenaline, increase your heart rate, breathing rate, decrease relaxation… this vicious cycle fuels another burst in the Cortisol levels… and it goes on and on!
This is the nature of your mind… and this is also why your mind is so scary yet powerful.
But there is a ray of hope…
Once you have understood that no matter how much pressure is placed on you, no matter how bad things go… the origin of stress is your mind.
Your body might have stress forced on to it, physical pain, that job you hate, relationship problems, but the “mental stress” is completely dependent on *HOW* you think about it… meaning your perspective is what decides whether your body will induce a stress response or keep it on a low manageable level.
The human body is a marvellous machine which can take an unprecedented amount of stress as long as the stress is limited to one area, either mental stress or physical stress.
When stress affects both, your mental AND physical state = trouble arises.
Look at people from around our world for this phenomenon: sportsmen, transport drivers, labourers, body builders, they all have different types of extreme physical stress placed on them.
But their bodies can handle it very well as long as there’s no mental stress.
Similarly, people in high intellectual pressure scenarios and jobs such as business strategists, global leaders, passive sportsmen (like chess or carrom players), they can handle the mental stress because there’s no extreme physical stress.
In short, work towards limiting the stress in your life to one area, and in most cases, it is only possible to control our mental status, since much of our physical work is non-negotiable.
Here are some books we recommend on the topic:
Moving on… so now you are thinking “Wow, so now do I now need to remember like 30 things about lifestyle?”
We are going to give you a very simple formula to manage all the stress in your life.
The food related tips are in the nutrition module, so we’ll skip those here.
The sleep tips will soon follow…
But the biggest stress relief tip we are going to give you… just one single prescription for countering all the stress in your life…
And we guarantee you will say we have gone crazy…
Here it is…
To reduce and even eliminate all the stress in your life…
Huh? Sounds crazy? Probably, but keep reading…
25-30 minutes a day of unstructured play time is your medicine for stress.
The thing is that we get many stress management tips on hundreds of blogs, sites and books.
We are advised 300 ways to relax and decompress, like Meditation, Yoga, Tai chi, focused relaxation…
… but be honest… do you ever actually do these, have you ever done these longer than a week?
If you have, then that’s fantastic, keep doing it, but we know most would not do it longer than a week.
So chances are that if we keep repeating the same things like all the other 100 sources, it will not change a thing.
Instead, what we are asking you to do is just ONE thing. We call it your guilt-free time, do whatever the heck you want time.
And by “play”, we mean do ANYTHING THAT YOU LOVE. For just 25-30 minutes every day.
Basically, it is play time, and we know you will say it sounds crazy, that we are all adults…
…but in reality…
… we are not much different ‘inside’ than what we were as children…
And if you ask yourself honestly whether you would love to play like you did back then, the answer would always be YES.
Everyone likes to play; we simply deny it out of the fear of being called childish or being judged.
Playing is THE MOST effective stress reliever; just look the most stress free creatures on earth – children!
Children are always playing, relaxing and having fun, they sleep when they are sleepy, they wake up full charged and without any effort.
It is because of the stress free life, their whole life is one enjoyable play time that makes them what they are.
Children have what’s called a passive relaxation response whereas adults have an active stress response.
And the way you de-activate this stress response is by passive relaxation = play time!
So we want you to do one of two things, active play or passive play.
Active play involves something like playing some kind of active game, playing with your kids, or your friends, or even your dog.
Any activity that is:
- Enjoyable, makes you happy while doing it, and after doing it
- Not forced on you
- Something that you can do every day without getting bored
- And most important, it turns your mind – off!
‘Passive play’ on the other hand is something like board games or non physical activity, but still some activity that involves all of the above points.
In fact, something that sounds as silly as taking a small 20 minute nap will dramatically lower your Cortisol levels if done with consistency.
Yep, power naps for stress release!
Another form of ‘passive playing’ is creating something, so whether it is writing, sculpturing, painting… in fact, research has shown that the act of creating something gives people a sense of meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.
All in all, we are recommending 25-30 minutes a day, guilt-free ‘do what you love’ time.
And we know what most busy folks like a mother of 2 kids, the 12-hour-job IT developer or other people will say “I don’t have the time…”
Well, guess what, whatever you are doing in life cannot be more important than the one factor that allows you to do that thing in the first place = your health!
Everyone can adjust their schedule for 25 minutes play time.
It is just a matter of planning, and making people around you aware of your plan and what you are doing for your health and weight goals.
KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER
Weight loss is much more than your diet and workouts.
‘Unnatural’ activities and abuses on your body like stress, hormonal imbalances, and sleep deprivation go a long way in contributing to your obesity.
So before you start thinking about your diet, or “how many calories should I eat?”, get your “non-diet things” in control first! Start doing ONE enjoyable thing every day for just 25-30 minutes, and see the change it brings in you in less than a month.
Once you do that, then we can talk about your diet and nutrition.