Watch the video and read along with the transcript below of the podcast I was invited to be on. The podcast is called Stories of Hope in Hard Times by Tamara K Anderson, and this is the second of two parts.

Did you know there are 4 research-based habits you can incorporate into your life to help you live feeling more balanced and with less stress? Join us today as Dr. Michael Olpin shares what these four habits are and why they are so important to living a more happy and whole life.

Episode Discussion Points

Research has shown if you do at least 4 habits consistently you will get your body and mind in the state of balance.

You don’t change a behavior overnight, but over the course of 9-weeks Dr. Olpin sees these behaviors changing his students. So, in his Mind, Body Wellness class he invites the students to participate in a Behavioral Contract where they promise to incorporate at least the 4 key habits into their lives during that semester. After reporting on in weekly, they find their lives are much more balanced and they are able to handle their stress better.

Getting Your Mind and Body In Balance

  1. Exercise: this is one of the best things for us! The physiological effects of exercise are huge! This is the MVP of wellness.

  2. Nutrition: there are lots of diets, but Dr. Olpin recommends thinking about what our ancestors ate and focus on that. Eat as natural as possible. Try to stay away from sugars, liquid oils & processed foods.

  3. Managing Stress: There are two approaches to managing stress.

    • First, preventing stress by how we think about things (Example it is near impossible to be stressed and grateful at the same time.) Other examples of positive thoughts to prevent stress are: acceptance, forgiveness, discovery, observing mindfulness, but gratitude or thankfulness are the most powerful.

    • “Stress doesn’t happen to us like a virus or pathogen. Stress is a result of how we are thinking about our environment.”

    • Second is turning the stress response off once it starts through meditation, yoga and other things.

  4. Get Enough Sleep: Studies show that if you don’t get enough sleep you will start hallucinating (showing the importance of dreaming). Sleep in a place as dark and quiet as possible. Also getting rid of screen time as early as possible before bed can impact sleep.

    • Spend Time in the Sun Every Day: This is especially important early in the morning. Getting a little sun every day will affect your sleep at night.

    • If there is any blue light at night, melatonin doesn’t kick in and you have a hard time falling asleep. And melatonin is the hormone which helps us sleep deeply.

    • Science seems to back Ben Franklin’s adage early to bed early to rise. At least sleep from 11pm-3am—which are the golden hours.

    Bonus: How to Think in Peace-Promoting Ways

    • Reading uplifting literature

    • Being kind

Great Quotes

“Exercise is number one… It’s like the end MVP of wellness.”

“Thankfulness seems to work every time to prevent [stress].”

“Every single day, the more we’re able to spend a little while in the sun—it’s interesting how that affects sleeping at night.”

“Whatever you do with your sleep, try to make sure that you’re sleeping from 11pm to 3am. Those are it’s like the golden magical sleep hours.”


Incorporate one of these habits into your life today and see if you can add all four in your life over the next month.

Connect with Dr. Olpin

Want To Hear More of Dr. Olpin & His Story?

If you missed Dr. Olpin’s personal story in last week’s episode as well as his meditation you can do anywhere to calm your stress response, be sure to check out last week’s episode here:

#tamarakanderson #storiesofhopeinhardtimes #podcast #hope #God #hardtimes #stressmanagement #balance #exercise #wellness #nutrition #sleep #stressresponse #preventstress #turnoffstress


You can find the transcription of today’s episode here:

Tamara Anderson 0:03

How would you feel if I told you that there are four key habits that you can incorporate into your life that would help you live in a more balanced and less stressed out way? Would you want to know what those are? Stay tuned and we will talk about these four researched based habits with the special guest I’m bringing back on the show today.

Tamara Anderson 0:33

Welcome to Stories of Hope in Hard Times, the show that explores how people endure and even thrive in difficult times, all with God’s help. I’m your host Tamara K Anderson. Join me on a journey to find inspiring stories of hope and wisdom learned in life’s hardest moments.

Tamara Anderson 0:58

Hello, and welcome to Stories of Hope in Hard Times. I’m your host, Tamara K. Anderson. And today, I am so excited to bring Dr. Michael Olpin Back on the show. He was able to join us last week where we talked about his personal story, and how he has become a professor of wellness and stress management. And we had just an amazing conversation, I will be sure to link his episode last week in today’s show notes so you can be sure to find him.

Tamara Anderson 1:30

The episode last week was called How to Easily decrease your stress today. And he gave us a powerful example of an easy meditation you can do anywhere that will help calm your fight or flight response, which is your stress response. So be sure to check out last week’s episode if you haven’t heard it yet.

Tamara Anderson 1:51

Today, we are pleased to bring back Dr. Michael Olpin. And he is a professor, a best selling author, a wellness coach, and the founder and director of the stress relief center. And he is amazing in his knowledge and wisdom of all things pertaining to wellness, and health, and helping people learn to manage their stress. And I don’t know about you, but I sure need help managing my stress on a daily basis.

Tamara Anderson 2:25

I have a question for you about your behavioral contract that you have. You’re one of the students in your which class is it? The

Dr. Michael Olpin 2:37

We do that in the Mind, Body Wellness class,

Tamara Anderson 2:39

Mind Body Wellness class. You have your students sign a behavioral contract, to do certain things throughout the semester to help them decrease their stress. Would you mind sharing with me the things that are on that behavioral contract, and why maybe spend a few minutes on each of those as to why it’s important to incorporate that into their life to be able to decrease their stress?

Dr. Michael Olpin 3:06

Sure. And decreasing stress is part of being in balance. And so that’s one of the objectives. Research has shown and there’s plenty of people around the world who have have determined similarly that if you do four or five things pretty consistently, you’ll get your body mind in Balance. I always say that, I think it sounds like imbalance it it’s in a state of balance.

Dr. Michael Olpin 3:40

And so and you see on TV all the time, or you see in commercials eat right and exercise right. Do those two things. And I think that’s two of the six things. There’s a few other things. And so we we spend some time focusing on exercise because I don’t know of too many things that are better for us, head to toe than physical activity. And the research bears that out. I’ve got a list of different things. I

Dr. Michael Olpin 4:15

For years, I was I’ve always been interested in the physiological effects of exercise, primarily aerobic exercise, but something where you’re moving through space at a certain intensity and so and I’ve got a list right now have over 100 Different things that just aerobic exercise does to benefit different areas of the body, liver, kidneys, blood vessels, heart, cholesterol levels, I mean, you name it, and I haven’t found anything else that comes close, except maybe meditation. Almost but exercise is still number one or the most. It’s like the end MVP of wellness. And, and so we spent some time focusing on exercise and the importance of that.

Dr. Michael Olpin 5:09

And then we will play just a little bit with nutrition. And I focused on, you know, there’s, there’s dozens of diets, there’s dozens of ways people eat. And you see, everywhere you go, try this, do this, do that. And my thinking is, if it was good for your, if it was something that our ancestors had to adapt to, then then it’s probably good for us. If our ancestors probably didn’t see it, like hydrogenated oils, for example, our ancestors never saw hydrogenated oils, so they didn’t have to adapt to it. And so it’s probably not something that our body will get stronger with. And so we kind of focus on, if our ancestors probably encountered it and had to adapt to it, then it’s probably good for us. And that turns out to be, you know, as natural as possible in most cases, and fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and moderation, little bit of meat, and but we try to get them away from the sugars and the liquid oils in the in the processed foods. But I don’t go into too much detail in the nutrition besides that.

Dr. Michael Olpin 6:34

And then the third thing we do is manage stress. So you eat right exercise. Third thing, I think, is manage stress. And we focus on the two approaches to managing stress. I think it’s possible to prevent stress. Oh, the way we prevent stress is by how we think about things. Stress is always a result of how we’re thinking about what’s going on out there. Stress doesn’t happen to us, like a virus or some pathogen stress is a result of how we’re thinking about our environment. And yes, there are in, there are some things that are more influential, that can create that. I’m in danger thought. But if you can eliminate the threat, thought if you can eliminate the stressful thought in the first place, stress won’t turn on.

Dr. Michael Olpin 7:37

And I’ll just give you one example of that. I don’t think it’s possible. This, this is just one example of several ways to have a non stressful thought versus a stressful thought. I don’t think it’s possible to be grateful. And to be stressed. And to have a stress thought at the same time, you know, people who are in rush hour traffic and they’re late for a meeting or people who number one social fear people are frayed to public speak, right? Number one, Social fear–its always number one. But is it can’t be the public speaking that causes us to have stress because some people aren’t stressed at all, when they public speak. So it has to be it has to be an internal thing.

Dr. Michael Olpin 8:28

And so if you could choose gratitude, thankfulness–I’m so grateful that I’m speaking to this group, I’m so thankful that I get to be have this opportunity. I’m so grateful that I get to work through this challenge. You know, those kinds of thoughts, your body’s always listening to what we’re thinking. And if those thoughts include, uh-oh, I’m in danger, this is bad. Your body interprets that as a bear chasing you, like it did for our ancestors.

Dr. Michael Olpin 9:05

And so if you don’t have any of those kinds of, you know, threat thoughts, your body will go oh, there must not be a bear. Okay. And it will just stay in rest and repair mode. And so and the best thought that I’ve I mean, I haven’t found too many exceptions. There are others acceptance, forgiveness, discovery, observing mindfulness, but gratitude–Thankfulness seems to work every time to prevent you know, you’re in rush hour traffic and you’re late. Can you think of grateful thought? Sure. I’ve got a car there’s a road here how grateful it is that I have a job or I have this opportunity. Do you see what I’m saying?

Dr. Michael Olpin 9:54

And so we keep focusing on we prevent stress by figuring out how to think differently about things that don’t include that, uh-oh, I’m in danger thought,

Tamara Anderson 10:08


Dr. Michael Olpin 10:09

And so, so we focus on that, as part of the third thing we were that is, you know, handle stress. And then we also focus on how to when we forget, we need something to help us turn it off,

Tamara Anderson 10:25

We’re going to take a quick break, but when we get back, we’ll have more lessons, tips and things you can apply to your life. Stay tuned.

Tamara Anderson 10:33

How many of you out there feel like your life is chaotic, crazy, and completely awful compared to the norm? What if I were to tell you, you are normal for you. I am so excited to tell you about my book Normal for Me, learning to love and accept life’s detours with God’s help. This book took me 10 years to write. And I shared 20 years worth of lessons learned in my life detours, including being in a car accident and having two of my children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In this book, I share the secrets of how I made it from despair to peace with God’s help. I talked about being a zombie mom, living in survival mode, learning true faith, and how I debunked the myth that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. normal for me also includes a bonus diagnosis survival guide at the very end the book in which I shared 12 tips to survive and thrive in tough times. So what are you waiting for, grab your copy of normal for me today on Amazon, or on my website?

Dr. Michael Olpin 11:53

And then we also focus on how to when we forget we need something to help us turn it off. And so specifically, in the stress management class, we have dozens of ways we focus on to in the, in the Mind Body Wellness class, and those are specifically Meditation yoga, which seem to be two of the best ways that are out there that are available to us to get the body out of the stress mode and back in balance.

Dr. Michael Olpin 12:24

And then the so that’s Eat right, exercise, manage stress, and then we focus on sleep. That’s the one thing that if you don’t get enough of no matter what else is going on. They’ve done studies where people who don’t get enough sleep after a few, like several days, they start to hallucinate.

Tamara Anderson 12:49

Oh, wow.

Dr. Michael Olpin 12:52

Implying the importance of dreaming, you know that how important it is that we get those dreaming those that dreaming in our in our evening, in our nightly sleeps. And so we focus on how to sleep get to sleep very quickly, you know, five to 10 minutes rather than an hour, we focus on how to stay asleep, best times to sleep what to eat prior to or how to make your evening so that you do fall asleep more quickly. Versus takes forever.

Dr. Michael Olpin 13:27

The kind of light you should expose yourself to prior to falling asleep versus like first thing in the morning, smartest thing you can do is go outside and be in the sun.

Tamara Anderson 13:37


Dr. Michael Olpin 13:38

And get that blue light, just flooding your eyes and you should spend time in the sun every single day for just a little while should never burn. But every single day, the the more we’re able to spend a little while in the sun. The more it’s interesting how that affects sleeping at night.

Dr. Michael Olpin 13:59

Sleeping at night should be in a place that is as dark as possible and as quiet as possible. And we should try to eliminate the blue lights as early in the evening as possible. So get rid of screen time and that’s that’s a big one. Nowadays, you see that all over the place where people are talking about. Don’t be staring at your phones trying to fall asleep because unless you’ve got some kind of a blue light blocker because we need that melatonin and if there’s any blue light melatonin doesn’t kick in. And that is the hormone that helps us sleep deeply.

Tamara Anderson 14:40

Wow that is

Dr. Michael Olpin 14:41

But we do want that in the morning. And so we do that. Let’s see those four things and then we focus on we spent some time focusing on just cognitive restructuring how to think in an stressful in peaceful and peace promoting ways. And then I saw I give them this contract that invites them. They don’t have to do it. But it invites them to do a little of each of those every day. And then we evaluate it. I mean, they fill out a contract. And then each week they evaluate themselves for how they did. I asked him to do you know those things, and then I invite them to do a couple other things that they feel like, this would make a huge difference for me kind of thing.

Dr. Michael Olpin 15:35

So like, maybe it’s reading your wisdom literature, maybe it’s being nicer to somebody going and visiting my friends, you know, more just those. So say, do those four things, and then two other things that they choose each week, then evaluate themselves. And then at the end of the semester, they kind of do. Here’s how I’ve done with this contract.

Dr. Michael Olpin 16:03

And here’s what I’ve noticed about myself as a result of doing this behavior, because I don’t think you can change behavior overnight. Yeah. But in nine weeks, I think a lot of those behaviors will stick for people where they are, they figured out how to get exercise into their day, they figured out how to get meditation into their day. They figured out what works for them to help keep them strong and healthy, nutritionally through those nine weeks, and it’s some people they just yeah, whatever. But for some people, it’s a it’s a game changer.

Tamara Anderson 16:48

Oh, thank you so much for walking me through those and why they’re so important. It makes me want to go research, sleep.

Dr. Michael Olpin 16:59

It is a fun one. That’s

Tamara Anderson 17:01

Oh, I just think back on my life to when like, my kids were little and crying babies and and then kids with on the autism spectrum don’t sleep well. And so there was probably a decade in there where I was, had very little sleep. And it’s amazing how my stress level was super, super high. And it of course, it starts to affect your hormones and all these. Well, I don’t have to tell you–you know all about it. It does. It affects everything. And so it’s amazing how important sleep is. I learned that through experience.

Dr. Michael Olpin 17:40

I think we all do.

Tamara Anderson 17:43

I remember for our 10th wedding anniversary, my husband took me on a cruise. And I slept so much on that cruise. Like he’s like, you just sleep as much as you want. And he would wake up early, and he’d go out on the deck and read. And, and he would come in like hours later. And I was just still like, it just shows how completely exhausted I was. And I remember standing on the deck of the cruise ship. And before we got off, and I was just like, I don’t want to leave. You know, I don’t I don’t want to go back to that constant stress. So I made him promise me I said, Justin, you need to promise me before we get off this cruise ship, that it won’t be another 10 years before I get a break. And he promised and, and thank goodness. You know, we would take little one nighters but an entire week away from our children. Yeah, bless them. But its so needed, right?

Dr. Michael Olpin 18:56

And the cool thing about it is just a few tiny tweaks, you know, I think who was it Ben Franklin said Early to bed early to rise. The science seems to bear that out. There’s I read something just the other day. That said, Whatever you do with your sleep, try to make sure that you’re sleeping from 11 to 3–11pm to 3am. Those are it’s like the golden magical sleep hours. That are the science seems to show that if you do if you’re if you’re sleeping. If your sleep includes those times, you’re best off generally, and everyone’s a little different. But yeah.

Tamara Anderson 19:43

Another great sleep tip. Thank you.

Tamara Anderson 19:48

So just a quick recap those four amazing tips to getting your mind and your body in balance and to lower your stress are number One: Exercise. Number two: nutrition. Number three: managing your stress, which has two parts underneath it–first preventing the stress by how we think about things, especially employing gratitude. And second is learning to turn off the stress response once it starts through meditation, yoga, and the such. The fourth one, super important is getting enough sleep. As we’ve talked about.

Tamara Anderson 20:28

So I invite you to put in practice one of these things today and try to incorporate all four of them into your life within the next month, and see if, like research has shown, it improves the balance of your life and decreases your stress as well.

Tamara Anderson 20:48

I’d love to hear from you and your comments on how you’ve been able to apply the things Dr. Olpin has taught us today.

Tamara Anderson 20:56

If you would like to reach out and have Dr. Olpin come speak to your work, or your organization, You can find him on his website, Michael Olpin, O L P I or And you can also find any of his stress management books online on Amazon, as well as you can take his class, his Stress Management class, he is a professor at Weber State University in Utah.

Tamara Anderson 21:30

Oh, my goodness, this has been such an honor. Really, really. Thank you. Thank you. I really do appreciate.

Dr. Michael Olpin 21:36

It’s been my pleasure. Tamara, and I’m honored to be invited from you. Oh, thank you so much.

Tamara Anderson 21:43

You are making a tremendous difference. So thank you for being willing to share. Because it’s needed. It’s really, really, really needed in the world today.

Tamara Anderson 21:55

Hey, thanks so much for listening to today’s show. If you like what you heard, subscribe so you can get your weekly dose of powerful stories of cope. I know there are many of you out there who are going through a hard time, and I hope you found useful things that you can apply to your own life in today’s podcast. If you’d like to access the show notes of today’s show, please visit my website stories of hope There you will find a summary of today’s show, the transcript and one of my favorite takeaways. You know, if someone kept coming to mind during today’s episode, perhaps that means that you should share this episode with them. Maybe there was a story shared or quote or a scripture verse that they really, really neat to hear. So go ahead and share this podcast. May God bless you, especially if you are struggling with hope to carry on and have the strength to keep going. When things get tough. Remember to walk with Christ and He will help you bear the burden. And above all outs. Remember God loves you.

Transcribed by