How am I? I’m great thanks for asking. I’m being busy busy busy you know it’s so crazy these days. There’s so many things on the go, work is busy, family life and keeping up this time of year there’s just a million things going on. It’s go go go all the time, and you know I can’t remember the last time I had a really good night’s sleep. I could sure use one. Hey how about you? How are you doing? The same? You’re really busy too, you got a million things well you’ve been killing it man. You’re doing so well in your career and people love you and you’re so busy in the community. It’s amazing what you’re doing, like wow. We kind of do this mutual patting each other on the back and saying you’re so awesome for being so busy. It’s insane we’re all on the edge of burning out, it’s crazy! By contrast would you value equally what I have to say if I looked like I was somebody who had all the time in the world to just take it slow?
Would you value me as much then? No probably not, we know from studies that you over value— we all over value pace. Stressful jobs. The accomplishment of things, acquisition of stuff and this go-go-go mentality which is part of the Western individualized culture… and frankly we’ve exported it around the world. It’s about doing doing doing doing and always living with anxiety and this kind of existential threat and this living on the edge of burnout. Well this video is all about getting away from that edge, stepping back, managing stress and being happy so stay tuned. As a coach public speaker and best-selling author I teach topics just like this one all around the world so stay tuned and I’ll give you practical tools that you can use to make both yourself and those around you both happier and more successful. So why is it that we value stressful high pace activity like it was some badge of honor where we we esteem people who are doing stuff that crazily busy? Crazily living on edge? And it’s crazy what we do you know we eat sugar and and we drink caffeinated drinks and we do all these things to keep ourselves going at this heavy heavy pace in our society. The truth is the pace is killing us. Sometimes as fast as the instant heart attack and other times it’s killing us slowly. We’re prone to illness, our immune system gets worse when we’re chronically stressed. In fact the evidence shows that our cellular aging speeds up. We’re actually getting older faster as a result of our stress. So physically we’re going downhill and mentally we can show that it’s done not good for us either.
Chronic stress causes a decline in cognitive function where basically our productivity and effectiveness eventually goes down and down and down and then ultimately we all know what it’s like when our relationships are in the midst of high stress. We become less emotionally regulated we’re more volatile were impatient and sadly we’re less empathetic so all of these things physically mentally and emotionally they go downhill when there’s a ton of chronic stress. So why do we value this incredibly stressful life? Well there’s actually some pretty good reasons and one of the leading researchers a woman named dr. Emma Seppala talks about this. She basically shows that there’s a lot of benefits to having stressed-out times in our lives. Imagine that there’s a mugger pursuing you in some dark street. The stress levels go up and blood flows to our extremities and we either run like hell or fight like hell. It’s a good thing and we can use that same stress benefit when we’re in work projects and there’s a tough deadline and demanding work and the stress of it actually brings up our focus and increases our productivity and our tension and and we start playing our game as good as it can get. So that’s all great, stress under those circumstances is fantastic. The problem is the lack of relief. When we think that there’s a mugger around every corner, work has a constant steady steady steady set of deadlines and high demanding expectations and our family of social life and our parenting and taking care of our parents— all that stuff can be too much! Too constant and as a biological organism it’s frankly unsustainable.
If you think back to our evolutionary periods our natural rhythms would have been much more down time. That would be the vast majority of the day and our stresses would be brief bursts of stress. We need it now. We’re gonna go run away from the animal or or catch the prey that we want to eat for dinner tonight and we get our rise of external stressful motivation to deal with what’s in front of us and then for most of the day, 20 out of 24 hours at least it’d be chill, relaxed, perfect. That’s the way our biology is meant to be so just how do we come back from this constant edge of burnout in high stress? How do we do it? In reality I don’t think you want me in this video to say “oh let’s reconstruct your life so you have this perfect work-life balance and everything’s in harmony.” I’ll maybe make a video about work-life balance and the degree to which that’s difficult but but worth pursuing in a separate video but that’s not what this video is about. It’s not changing your reality it’s about coping with your reality, building some tools of resilience so that you can come back from that high-stress environment that you’re in to constantly and find genuine relaxation. I’m gonna share with you today a number of proven strategies. The science backs it up, it’s stuff that makes you better and able to cope with the high stress environments that you live in. So number one it’s learn to meditate and I have three previous videos on it.
A little video series previously on meditation so there’ll be a link in the description below so you can go find out about meditation. The second proven strategy is crazy simple, so you might dismiss it too readily just because it’s simple. But it’s learning to breathe. I know that sounds crazy but when we breathe truly deeply inhaling all the way into our diaphragms and we exhale slowly then we can actually get some true relaxation. So it’s breathing deeply filling our whole diaphragm and exhaling slowly and it’s ridiculously simple but you can do this trick— this proven strategy for reducing stress, for changing our actual physiology anywhere, anytime. You can be in a busy boardroom with a whole bunch of high-pressure discussions going on and breathe deeply exhaling slowly. You could be sitting at home watching TV, you could be going for a walk, you could be sitting down for dinner. This breathing stuff it’s easy. No one needs to know what you’re doing just being conscious. I breathe deeply, I exhale slowly. It’s precognitive, that is it changes your physiology before you can think about it. You might be skeptical right now and say oh that wouldn’t work for me because I’ve got so much going on in my mind but if you just do the exercise, breathe deeply deeply into the diaphragm and exhale slowly.
It will change your physiology whether you believe it or not. Whether your mind is against it doing so or not and the way to get there readily is to practice a breathing exercise every day for five minutes. And the reason why the practice is important is because once we start a tuning our bodies to this kind of breathing it’ll take fewer and fewer of these kinds of breaths to remind the body that this is a cue to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and become relaxed. So if you practice every day for five minutes, breathing deeply exhaling slowly you’ll find that you can get very quickly to a relaxed state with just one or two breaths when you most need it. Okay here’s a third proven strategy and it’s related to the last one because it’s about breath cardiovascular exercise. Vigorous exercise that gets us breathing deeply is powerfully good for our nervous system and it works in two ways. Though the one is kind of obvious. That the immediate after effect of exercising is to be relaxed it’s because we breathe deeply using a hundred percent of our lungs. Breathing deeply exhaling using our lungs and it’s that capacity for the lung to breathe deeply. In a note that leads to some immediate relief from stress during and immediately following exercise but in addition people who have good cardiovascular fitness breathe more deeply and use more of their lung capacity. Because they’re getting more lung capacity being used with every breath they also tend to breathe fewer times per minute so they’re breathing slower. So cardiovascular exercise has this very big oversized benefit for being relaxed, in fact people who have good cardiovascular fitness systems can go through tons and tons of chronic stress and cope pretty well. I’m not recommending it, but cope pretty well simply because they have this reservoir of breath memory for bringing relaxation. So a fourth very practical proven tip for relieving the stress of life quickly is ironically to go slow. By going slow in whatever deliberate way we might want to do it and there’s many creative ways you could come up with. We actually just attune ourselves to a different pace and it kind of forces our our mind and body to get in sync.
So when we move our body into something slow and take our mind with it, it’s very very good for our parasympathetic nervous system. So for example going for a very very slow walk in nature, being calm breathing the air, taking things in is a beautiful way to calm down. Yin yoga might be a perfect example. Sometimes you might go to the gym and do power yoga and and hot buns you’ll get all these kinds of very vigorous yoga but yin yoga is all about protracted postures that are stretching our muscles and our fascia system or fashiona system. So when we go slow in yin yoga we calm our bodies down and the bonus of almost every yoga technique is that they’re always teaching slow controlled breathing. So you get some of the earlier bonuses in that one so going slow and finally my last tip for you— this may sound too simple is find the arms of someone that you love and get a big big warm hug.
Friends, family, your lover be in their company enjoy them. Pull them close and hold them for a period of time. Cuddle on the couch, whatever it is to bring that human connection in a deeply physical way. This is profoundly helpful for our nervous system and it’s largely because it hugs produce in us oxytocin. It’s the hormone in our bodies that we sometimes call the love drug, it’s calming it’s tranquil, it makes us feel a warm and good inside. It reduces cravings, it helps us sleep. This kind of way of getting a calm into our inner system is beneficial in so many ways. And of course it enhances our social relationships but keep in mind that your cat or your dog are also very lovely mammals that share that oxytocin hormone just like we do. So when you’re petting and and hanging you know with your cat and cuddling with your dog you’re sharing an oxytocin blast for both of you, equally good as hugging the human. So there you go five strategies. So in summary they were meditating, breathing slowly, deeply exhaling slowly, getting some good cardiovascular exercise on a routine basis, going slow and hug the people that you love. All those things are profound ways to change our physiology and to take this major step back from the high paced stress that we have in our lives. If we aren’t doing some of these things every day well we’re living a life that’s destined to have burnout, unhappiness fatigue, exhaustion and all those terrible things. So instead embrace these things I’ve just taught and be happier. Get a little bit more balance in your life. Now every week I try to give some kind of little you know free additional thing away that kind of reinforces what the video was all about. And this week I want to offer one of the chapters from my best-selling book that was all about love, and how we bring that beautiful oxytocin hormone more into our lives.