All posts tagged reduce stress

Finding Clarity in Simplicity. How to stop reacting and focus on what’s in your control.

By Brad Beckstrom

Have you noticed a big drop off in any part of your life?

I’ve been noticing a real drop off in the number of (non political) blog posts I’ve been seeing since November of 2016. At first I thought it was the election, the holidays etc. People have been distracted. I figured at some point we would stop discussing politics and get back to talking about anything but that. Well, the drop off has continued. You see, I don’t follow any political blogs or news publications in my feed reader. So, a lot of the blogs I do follow have dropped off, from maybe a post a week to less than one post per month. This is across a wide variety of blogs I follow, personal finance, photography, financial independence, minimalism, small business, creative writing etc. What’s going on? I feel like I already know the answer because my own writing has dropped off at about the same level, from once a week to once a month. It has a lot to do with many people, including myself, being totally distracted by all of the stuff outside of their circle of control.

The Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control

A circle of concern is simply a big circle with all of the things you’re concerned about scribbled inside of it. Inside of that circle is a circle of control. The circle of control is things that you have direct control over, what you read, where you live, what you eat, essentially your actions and thoughts.

image credit Jamesclear.com

Focusing inside versus outside the circle of control

Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits series, said that people with a large circle of concern become reactive. Read more…

Making Sleep Awesome Again.

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Nine Ways I’m Improving My Sleep and Fighting Fatigue .

By Brad Beckstrom

I shouldn’t complain, after all, I’ve spent a half a century on this planet without a major illness.  I’m not sure my second half-century will go as well, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.  In return for my overall good health, I’ve gotten to battle my share of ongoing “nagging conditions.”  I think “conditions” is a good word for these because they are a state, a circumstance in which I operate, they are ongoing and generally unyielding to my efforts. I have learned to live with these conditions and manage them on a day-to-day basis so that they’re generally unnoticeable to others and, on a good day, unnoticeable even to myself.

What is my condition?  Boogers. That’s it. That’s what I’ve called it since I was a kid “Boogers”. The official medical term is Sinusitis, Basically your nose overreacts to everything and fills up with some sort of snot that dries up in the night and turns into boogers.  It’s sort of like having a mild cold all the time. Immediately people think “oh, you must have allergies.” Nope, I’m allergic to nothing. I’ve been tested probably 5 times, even once at the National Institutes of Health. After sprays and meds didn’t work, top docs told me, “oh, the problem is your deviated septum. Surgery can fix that.” I got a second opinion, “yep surgery will fix that.”  I got the surgery, it didn’t fix it.  It’s my condition. It’s not going anywhere.

I was told that these sinus problems need to be addressed or they can lead to sleep apnea  which can lead to stroke, cancer or DEATH.  So, now these boogers could kill me if I didn’t get rid of them. Or more likely, my wife will kill me for my loud snoring, Read more…

The 5 Minute Body Scan.

How a free app and 5 minute exercise for the brain is like a reboot for your day. 

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By Brad Beckstrom

For years I’ve been reading about professional athletes, coaches, CEOs, artists, writers and others I admired, who meditated daily. I’d read about meditation and written about my experiments with it in the past. I wanted in on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and I’ve been trying to make it a daily habit.

The Problem

To be honest, I struggled with it. The longest streak of daily meditation I’ve had was five days,  five minutes per day. Surely I could spare 5 minutes a day for this life changing habit? I was really having trouble silencing my ADD tendencies enough to get started and stick with it.

My problem was trying to meditate in silence. I learned quickly that the way my mind works is trying to fill any silence with thoughts. I’ve tried to train myself to silence these thoughts and banish them as they appeared.  My meditation experiment included interesting tricks like envisioning these random thoughts as Post-it notes floating through the air and then being crumbled and tossed as I tried to clear my mind and focus on my breath. So, that’s what my meditation looked like, breathing sounds and Post-it notes full of thoughts and to-dos. I learned that’s how meditation often begins, helping you understand how your mind works so you can silence stress and negative thoughts. I was still having trouble with it as my stream of thoughts just became more visual as I sat in silence with my eyes closed.

How I Fixed It

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The Voice in My Head is an Asshole.

Exploring the convenient connection between mindfulness and sleep.

cool side of the pillow

By Brad Beckstrom

“The Voice in My Head is an Asshole.” I laughed out loud when I read this line on the first page of a new book by Dan Harris called 10% Happier.  I got a few funny looks on the airplane with the laugh. It was the day before Christmas Eve and the overbooked flight was delayed.  There weren’t a lot of happy people on this plane.

I was happy. My family was on the plane and, even though our flight was delayed in Houston, our final destination was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I had a decent seat, a cup of coffee, and was on page 1 of what looked to be an interesting book.

Dan Harris’s book is all about silencing the voices in our head and reducing stress.  Even before I bought the book, I knew where it was going — mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises, assorted gurus, granola, and yoga instructors.

I’d read about meditation before. I understood the benefits. I’d learned how everyone from Silicon Valley CEOs, soldiers dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder, athletes and coaches, Nobel prize winners, all reduce stress and up their performance with daily meditation. Phil Jackson a winning coach with 11 NBA titles. He got entire NBA teams to sit entirely still and focus on building mental toughness through meditation. That cannot be easy.

In fact, meditation is not easy. I had tried it, I approached it as mindfulness, doing breathing exercises to clear the mind, simply by focusing on breathing.  In and out, in and out. It didn’t work for me. I’d find myself thinking about everything, and basically unable to sit still for more than two minutes.

I believe this is where most people struggle. They get all set up, turn on the timer, start their breathing exercises, try to clear their head.  That’s when the voices start reminding you of all of the other things you have going on, are worried about, or should be doing.

Turning off the Monkey Mind

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