A letter to a stressed out student who returned from an LDS mission

I wrote this letter recently to a student who told me he was struggling with stress while serving as a missionary for the LDS church. This was my reply:

It’s interesting that you wanted to know about missionary stress. I’m actually writing a book/workbook for a mission in Michigan who wanted some help for their missionaries. And I also have a son who is in Santiago, Chile, on his mission, and is experiencing some stressful times. The reason I say this is just to let you know that what you’re going through isn’t unusual, nor is it unique to you. 

Details
Details

Do You Have the Winter Blues, or is it SAD?

Many of us dread the coming of winter, the darkness, the cold, the increased risk of getting the flu. About 10 to 20 percent of the American population suffers from what is commonly referred to as the “winter blues.”

A smaller percentage, from about 4 to 6%, suffers from a more extreme form of the winter blues called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is a type of seasonal depression that shows up most of the time in late fall and lasts through the winter months, although there is a rare form that shows up in a smaller number of people in the late spring and lasts through the summer. In winter version of this disorder people suffer symptoms of depression including;

Details

The Most Disgusting Ways to Prevent a Cold

The Most Disgusting Ways to Prevent a Cold

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s girlfriend things she caught him picking his nose? Well keep reading, there may be some perks to being a “picker” if you do it right.

Details

Why Diets Don’t Work

(Part 1 of 3)

Our ancestors had to physically work hard for their food. The foods that they ate provided calories, but rarely the surplus of calories that we easily find in our foods today. There were also times of shortage, or famine when food was scarce and they went hungry. Through the ages, the DNA in our cells has remembered that.

Details

Managing the Waves and Leaks in Time

[frame align=”left”]

[/frame]
When I was fourteen years old, I went to California with a group of kids my age. We went to Santa Monica Beach to see the ocean. None of us had been there before so this was a real treat for us. When we got there, we decided to try bodysurfing. We saw others doing it and it looked fun and much less difficult than regular surfing. Soon we learned how it was done and found ourselves out in the water preparing for the waves to come our way.

When a large wave approached, I started swimming as hard as I could, hoping to time it perfectly. I found myself riding the wave in toward the shore. Suddenly, the wave pulled me down, headfirst into the sand under the water.

Details

Why Bright Lights and Dark Nights are Essential for Sleep

Why Bright Lights and Dark Nights are Essential for Sleep

[frame align=”right”][/frame]

The human wake and sleep cycle is naturally regulated by the bright light of day and the darkness of night. When the light of day first hits the retina and stimulates a nerve pathway to the hypothalamus, it sets off a chain reaction that sends messages to other parts of the brain that help us feel more awake, like raising body temperature and increasing hormones like cortisol.1

The body also decreases the production of other hormones like melatonin which is both a hormone and an antioxidant.2  Melatonin, sometimes referred to as the “Dracula of Hormones,” is made by your pineal gland which is inactive during the day, but is turned on when the sun goes down and darkness occurs.1 Melatonin production helps us to fall asleep and to stay asleep during the night.

Details

All Stress Begins with our Thoughts

All stress begins with a thought. It isn’t what’s happening “out there” that initiates the stress response. It’s how we interpret what’s happening “out there” that causes us to become stressed or not. We call this a perception of a threat. If we think this situation will lead to some kind of pain (emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical), we turn on the stress response automatically to prepare for the potential pain. The potential pain is what we call a “threat.” Prevention of stress, then, is best done by focusing on our thoughts, by changing how we think about those things we think are threatening.
[frame align=”left”]

[/frame]

Details

Relax with this Easy Breathing Technique

Have you ever asked yourself, “How’s my breathing?” It seems like an odd question, but breathing is the foundational component of most relaxation exercises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a minute to sit in a chair with your back straight. Now put one hand on your chest, and the other one on your stomach. Which hand moves in and out when you breathe? Ideally, you would want the hand on your stomach to be the one moving the most when you breathe.

Fight or flight, or stressful breathing,

Details

Release the Grease!

(Part 2 of 3)

In the article Why Diets Don’t Work we learn that in the long run, dieters actually gain more weight. But don’t worry there is a solution. Your body can train its fat cells to release the grease. Here’s how.

Details

Don’t Eat That for Breakfast!

How does your breakfast effect your health?

You wake up. You’re hungry. You open the cupboard and see two cereals, Captain Crunch and Raisin Bran. What you do next may not only effect your day, but your life.

What you eat for breakfast is vitally important to your health. It influences many things; what nutrients you get, how healthy you are, your ability to fight disease, how much energy you have, your cravings, your ability to focus, your mood and how much and what else you eat for the rest of the day.

Skipping breakfast is not a good idea. For one thing, people who skip breakfast tend to weigh MORE than those who don’t. This sounds contradictory. It would seem that not eating breakfast calories would help people to lose weight, actually the reverse is true. (Read Why Diets Don’t Work to find out why.)

Details

Coping with Stress? Cheat on Your Diet.

Coping with Stress? Cheat on Your Diet

[quote style=”1″]That which you resist, tends to persist – and gets bigger.[/quote]

Ever noticed that the longer you battle a craving, the stronger it gets? Suddenly, the thought of a satisfying piece of chocolate becomes the uncontrollable urge to eat the whole bag.

A recent study showed this result when they asked three groups of female college students to think about chocolate, avoid thinking about chocolate, or think about whatever they wanted. Guess who ended up eating the most chocolate? Yep, it was the group that tried to avoid thinking about it.1 [frame align=”right”][/frame]

Details

Meditation – Wire Your Brain for Success?

[frame align=”left”][/frame]Not only does meditation reduce stress, but it also improves your mind by helping you learn and remember new things. It also improves memory and the ability to focus – permanently. In other words, meditation can wire your brain for success – here’s how . . .

While you meditate, your brain goes from the beta waves, which are the awake and alert brain waves, to the slower, more restful levels of brainwave activity called theta and delta waves. This is usually where the brain goes during deep sleep, dreaming, or deep hypnosis. This is also the time when the body undergoes its most restorative rest.1

While the brain is resting in these deeper rhythms, the body is at work. The immune system gets boosted and the body also repairs the damage done to it during the day, including healing cuts, bruises and internal problems that we may not even know about. This restorative state is also when the mind shuffles through the thoughts and experiences of the day, organizing data into short-term and long-term storage. 1

Details

Boost Metabolism While You Sleep

Remember in biology class when you learned about the parts of the cell and you wondered why you had to know this stuff? Really, when would you ever use this information in real life? Well here it is.

Details

What Sleeping has to do with your Waistline

That Freshman Fifteen, may not all be from the cafeteria food. It may be because you haven’t been hitting the snooze button enough. Sleep, or lack of it, not only affects your mind, it can seriously affect your waistline. Here’s how.

Details

Understanding Fear and Stress

Every turn you fear is empty air dressed to look like jagged hell.
—Richard Bach

FEAR AND stress are very similar. They oftentimes feel the same. If we truly understand fear and get a clear picture of what is happening when we feel fear, we can oftentimes dispense with the need to fear things at all. We can make the fear disappear!

In class, when we begin our focus on fear, I start with this ominous sounding question: “Why do you think you are here?” I don’t mean to ask the students why they are here in this building on this particular day. I ask them why they feel they are alive and what they are here to do. What is their purpose for living and being? They commonly respond with answers like these:

Details

What is Stand Up Paddle Yoga?

Water is a calming, natural stress reliever. Perhaps that is why so many of us love to sit and listen to the sounds of the ocean, or to a babbling brook, or to the waves of a lake lapping against the dock.[frame align=”right”][/frame]

Water is great for fitness too. Besides the regular water sports like swimming, diving, and water skiing, Stand Up Paddle Boards have become a popular way to work out. Imagine all the fresh air, exploring a lagoon, and getting fit at the same time- so it was inevitable that creative SUP enthusiasts would add a yoga component, and it is fantastic!

Details