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How to S.T.O.P. Stress Right Now

The next time stress clouds your thinking, heightens your anxiety and has you feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, relief can be an instant away. All that is needed is a bit of space between you and the cause of your stress. These exercises, called nano-therapy, can be done in the middle of your stressful situation, in a meeting, in a crowded space or while you are alone. These action steps will help create a buffer. If you can remember the acronym S.T.O.P., you can ease the moment and and help break the grip of stress.

Smile - Research shows that smiling, even a forced or fake smile, relieves stress. The relationship between body and brain provides evidence when you smile first the brain will follow. Take it one step beyond a smile and laugh at the stressful situation. Laughter increases your heart rate, releases endorphins (natural pain relievers), and has been proven to lead to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.  Laughter Therapy

Touch - The magic of being grounded. When feeling stressed, focus for a moment of your feet touching the ground, your body secure, engaged and alive. Being a part of the earth, deepening your roots and feeling a part of the universe has the power to reduce your stress levels. Focus first on your feet touching the ground, your legs connected to your feet and your body stable, sound and rooted. Grounding Yourself

One Breath - No matter where you are, you always have your breath. Take a deep breath and focus on where you feel your breath. Is it in your nose, your mouth, your throat or your chest? As you breath in, think only of they air moving into and out of your body. In addition to reducing stress, scientific studies show taking a deep breath has positive affects on the heart, brain, digestion and immune system.  Breathing

Present - Keep your thoughts in the present moment. Do not dwell on the mistakes you feel you have made in the past; there is nothing you can do to change the past. Stop worrying about the future, you can only live in the present moment; you cannot live in the future. Stress is often caused when you worry about events, past and future, while taking no time to live life fully now. When you live in the present moment, you are provided the opportunity to savor the joys and pleasures life has to offer, right now. The added layer of worrying about the past or future creates another dimension to stress, giving it additional power over you. Stop the cycle and stay in the present moment. The Art of Now

I was reminded of this powerful set of techniques and tools by the creators of the meditation app Buddhify.  Whenever I am faced with a particularly stressful or challenging situation in my life, I have found a tremendous amount of power and relief from a few minutes of meditation. For me, meditation is an incredible way to start and end my day. I would be happy to share any comments you have about reducing stress in your life and would love to share your approach to stress relief with our Nice Guy community. Please add your comments below.

 

 

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5 Ways to develop your "Why not me" muscle

 

By mid morning you have already said no to yourself dozens of time. No more sleep, no more snooze button, no more food, no more social media, no more time and the list goes on and on. You’re exhausting yourself and the sun has just peaked over the horizon.

As soon as you wake up you begin setting limits for yourself, so it’s no wonder when things don’t go right for you it’s not surprising you begin to develop a “why me” attitude; it’s almost like you expect to be be shut down, to come in second place and to not be successful at any goal you attempt to set. Your mental muscle memory says stop before you even get started sometimes.

It’s time to stop hating on your yourself and develop your - why not me - muscle. Want to know why? Because you deserve it, that’s why. Let the training begin; the trick is to be consistent with your actions. Olympic athletes don’t show up at the stadium on event day, tie up their laces and just get started. They took years to train, develop a program, build muscle, and prepare for their day of glory. Your day of glory can actually be a lifetime of happiness, prosperity and winning results if you just develop an attitude of - why not me. Here are 5 ways to develop your - why not me - muscle:

 

Your attitude determines your actions.

I recently interviewed Arianna Huffington for my podcast. Of course I could have said to myself, “Why in the heck would she ever want to come on my show? She was just on Dr. Oz, she’s friends with Oprah and her book is already a bestseller, why would she ever need me?” Instead, I said, “Why not me?” I have a growing community of leaders, entrepreneurs and Nice Guys who will spread her message just as well as anyone, why not send her an email and ask. You know what? She responded with a few questions (through her publicist) and after developing a rapport with her publicist, landed the interview. I had a positive attitude and so happy that I put it all together. Your attitude will affect your results.

 

Action will always keep you moving forward.

Want to develop an ironclad plan for failure? Don’t take action and let fear stand in your way, and failure is guaranteed. Nothing great was ever achieved from doing nothing great. Put yourself in motion. Jeffrey Hayzlett, an entrepreneur and 3-time judge on celebrity apprentice says, “It’s not the lucky who win, it’s the relentless.” Take action, don’t give up and stay on course. It will never be a straight line to success and that is ok. Stay in action, keep moving and never give up, you will get there.

 

Your words have power. That can be good or bad.

John Livesay is a pitch coach, teaching business owners, inventors and entrepreneurs how to get funding for their businesses. He says success in getting funded is only a small percentage about the idea (product or service), but rather much more about the story that is told. “If you are authentic and realize this is your moment, grab heart strings and pull hard.”  Be emotional about your business and understand that the words that leave your mouth have power; develop confidence and good storytelling techniques so that your ideas can come to life.

 

You are who you associate with.

Growing up, my mom would say, “Show me your friends and I will show you who you are.” It’s so very important to associate with others that make a positive, lasting impact on you. Create a mastermind group or have a brainstorming buddy that will help keep you on track, positive and focused. Several months ago I met Jenna Atkinson when I was speaking at a conference. Jenna is much more focused on goal setting and developing action steps on the path to success than I am. In talking to her, it was easy for me to see she would be a great person to connect with to help me start focusing on building action steps to helping me build my business. Since starting my brainstorming sessions, I have seen a marked improvement in business. Associate with a winning crowd and build your - why not me - muscle.

 

Reprogram the internal hater.

Stop hating on yourself. If you keep stepping on number two, you will have a bad effect on number 1 - YOU! The internal hater is always telling you that you can’t do it. Stop beating up on yourself. Expect positive results and good things will happen. That doesn’t mean to say that you will be successful at everything you attempt, but go easy on yourself when you don’t succeed. When you hate on yourself, you chip away positive energy until all you have left is negativity and an attitude of - why me? Develop your - why not me - muscle by loving up on yourself, provide a bit of internal empathy, get back in the saddle and move on. The difference between success and failure is sometimes just saddling up.

 

Wherever you go, there you are.
— Joh Kabat-Zinn

Wherever you go, there you are.

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s best seller (Wherever You Go, There You Are) discusses the importance of mindfulness as it pertains to reducing stress, making life a bit easier to understand & define and helping us focus our mental energy and to improve our life. Life is about showing up, working on making incremental improvements day to day. If you let life happen to you, it will, and if you make life happen, it will. Do not go through life being a victim of circumstances. Take control of your life and make your own path. Incorporate into your training, mindfulness or other stress reducing, attitude building techniques.

Reprogramming yourself is not an easy task, and you will be met with challenges and roadblocks along the way. In order to get to places you have never been before in business and in life, you will need to make some changes along the way. Find accountability partners in this new approach, eliminate the - why me - attitude and watch the positive results flood in. Get excited, because summer is coming, and we are all looking forward to seeing how all that new muscle fits into your new self.

 

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5 Practices to Wake Up a Winner

Since entering the work force I have experienced approximately 7,920 work days. Excluding some major holidays and a few sick days,  and including my workaholic stretch in the 90's and early in the millennium years,  I have tried just about every trick in the book to optimize sleep, maximize positivity and keep my mind, body and being in good shape. In spite of all the external factors that do their best to work their mojo, I knew it was always in my best interest to start my day off properly. I'm not talking about the obvious things like eating a balanced breakfast, getting the proper amount of rest and staying off the Red Bull and eighth cup of coffee before bedtime. But I am talking about little changes, that if made could have a lasting impact on my health and my productivity during the day.

You will find most of the (best) practices below will take very little effort to accomplish, but will help you wake up and get started on your day as a winner.

One positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.

When you snooze, you lose - Hitting the snooze button might make you think you are getting more sleep, but you are doing more harm than good. As your sleep becomes fragmented your body becomes even more sluggish. Those extra few minutes of sleep may be sending your body into deeper sleep stages, making you feel even more tired. Instead of hitting "snooze" several times in the morning, set your alarm later and wake up on the alarm's first call. Experiment with your biological clock to find out what your best length of sleep really is and do your best to stick to it.

Start from the inside out - Many people use their smart phones as their alarm clock. If you fall into that category, once you turn your alarm off, put your phone down. As your body gently shifts from asleep to awake, don't shock it into reality quite yet with Facebook, Twitter, email and your news feed. Instead, take that same time you were dedicating to see what others are up to and invest it on the wonderful simplicity of your breath in and out.  Five minutes of watching your thoughts pass by, focusing on nothing other than your breathing in and out will have a surprisingly wonderful lasting impression on the rest of your day. As an added bonus, end your day the same way.

Some days you have to make your own sunshine.

Counting counts - My daughter Rachel told me about a breathing exercise called 4-7-8 and I have been using it for months now with amazing results. Start with a full exhale. Then, breathe in through your nose to the count of four. Hold to the count of seven. Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight. Repeat a total of four times. This practice is useful first thing in the morning, before going to bed, when anxiety makes its way into your day or when tense moments occur anytime. It's also a great way to deal with a problem BEFORE you react.

Dance like no one is watching - Okay, so maybe dancing isn't your thing, but get your heart rate up even if only for a few minutes. If you have stairs in your house, try going up and down them five to ten times to get your heart rate up. Working out in the morning starts your internal "fire" earlier and will help you burn more calories than the same workout in the evening. The point is, get moving and start your day feeling motivated and feeling good about yourself with a bit of extra blood flow and cardio in the morning.

If you want to make your dreams come true, you first have to wake up.

The big bad mama jama - Among the huge list of things you should accomplish during your day, set your goal for the one bad mama jama that MUST get accomplished.  This "must do" is non negotiable and is the most important task on your list. If all else fails, this one must get taken off the list by the end of the day. Not only should you write this daily goal down, when you cross it off the list, do a small victory dance. Well done.

Side effects include (the fine print): Making these small changes will not just effect you, but will have a ripple effect on those around you.  You will feel better and be ready for all the day has to deliver. Each day you work from the above list,  you will be happier and more relaxed. You will get caught in a spiral of positivity as you begin your day properly. You deserve to wake up as a winner. 

 

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3 Apps That Will Blow Your Mind, Not Your Wallet

I love a good productivity app and these three are incredible. Put a little YOU in your schedule and feed your soul and your mind with positive vibes. Taking a break during your day can be a challenge, but adding a few moments of down time can help boost your productivity and help you feel less stress in your day. Studies show short breaks, 15 minutes or less, will reduce fatigue, improve mental acuity and make you happier. Sounds like a winning plan to me. 

Yoga Studio, by Modern Lotus - $3.99

Developer's description - Yoga Studio includes 65 ready-made classes. Choose your level (beginner, intermediate or advanced), duration (15, 30 or 60 minutes) and focus (strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance or combination) to find the perfect class for you.

We think learning how to move from one pose to the next is important - just as important as learning the poses themselves. That's why all our classes come with full HD video and teacher commentary that's clear and easy to follow.

Mr. Nice Guy description - I've been using this app for several months, and I love that I can listen and watch instruction as I am doing my yoga poses. For a guy that is not so coordinated, I prefer the app over going into a studio and feeling awkward while attempting some of the poses. This app is perfect for someone who is busy and can't dedicate an hour in the studio, plus commute time back and forth from class. Multiple collections are included including beginner, intermediate and advanced essentials. Classes for runners, people with back pain, sun salutations (whatever that is) and my favorite, Yoga Quick Fix (classes in under 10 minutes). Another huge plus is the meditation feature that guides you step by step into deep relaxation. This is a must-have app if you are a travelor or someone that has very limited time, but want to add yoga or meditation into your life.

 iTunes           Modern Lotus

 iTunes         Modern Lotus

Pzizz, by Pzizz - FREE

Healthdeals.com description - A nap can feel quite decadent, but short naps (20 to 30 minutes) also offer some benefits in terms of improving mood, alertness and performance. Touted as “the world’s most advanced sleep and power nap system,” pzizz (pronounced puh-ziz) incorporates “inspiring words, enchanting music, delightful sound effects and binaural beats” to relax and calm users’ minds., The app’s algorithm ensures that the soundtrack varies—there are more than 100 billion—which helps it remain effective. Use the power nap module for quick daytime refreshment and then use the sleep module for a solid night of slumber.

Mr. Nice Guy description - I had never been one to take powernaps, but Pzizz has changed all that for me. Open the app, set your time limit and hit "play." The rest (literally) is taken care of from there. Calm narration leads you into guided sleep as a series of soundscapes lure you into powernap supersleep. Before using this app, I admit I was very skeptical of the idea of an app for napping, but I can assure you, this app is awesome. Other features include a sleep module that will help you get to sleep at night, an alarm clock and tutorials to help you get the right mix of voice and music levels.

Buddhify, by Mindfulness Everywhere, $4.99

Developer's description - Practical, playful and beautifully-designed, Buddhify increases your wellbeing by teaching you mindfulness-based meditation on the go.

With over 11 hours of custom meditations for 15 different parts of your day including traveling, being online, taking a work break and going to sleep, buddhify 2 gives you a simple but effective way to bring more mindfulness and calm to your busy day.

Mr. Nice Guy description - A colorful wheel of options presents opportunity for you to select any circumstance you wish to add meditation. Feeling stressed, can't sleep, difficult emotions, feeling ill? Select your situation and Buddhify will provide a series of meditations to choose from. I find this app particularly good when I am dealing with a high anxiety moment and can't quite get focused or on track. One of several narrators will guide you through your meditation, allowing time for you to take action. As a beginner in the world of meditation this app has helped me realize there are many ways to manage stress and anxiety. Additionally, the app is an amazing tool for anyone searching for a quick dose of mindfulness during a busy day. Over 80 meditations, most under 12 minutes.

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How to Stop! In A Go World.

I started to put air into my schedule. Well, not specifically air, but rather, the action of inhaling and exhaling air and deliberately breathing. It’s amazing what a few cleansing breaths can do for your life. So I got to thinking (always a dangerous thing for me), what if I actually put breathing as a line item on my schedule, and added a place for it on my to-do list. It would no longer be a distraction or an annoyance, but rather a goal. Always the overachiever, I want to accomplish everything on my schedule for the day. Plus, it allows me to strike through another item on my to-do list. Win-win.

I quickly found when I add this period of breathing time in my schedule these last few weeks, I relax more, not take the day with quite the same hectic pace anymore, and I seem to be more in tune with my body. Then I did something totally uncharacteristic for me, I took breathing to a whole new level. I starting taking breathing outside with me on walks. Inhaling. Exhaling. I even added yoga to my schedule. I am a guy who likes variety, and there is something very therapeutic about a cleansing breath or two while doing downward dog.

We can’t figure out why we are always tired, bloated, achy and allergic.

In the U.S., we run at a pace that is unrivaled by any other country and ironically, we wear this as a badge of honor. In other countries, they work hard too, but then they turn off, shut down, disconnect and stroll home after hours. We simply move our workload from the office to our cell phone during the commute home. And when we get home, we spend only a few minutes with our family, maybe take a moment to shove our prepared, processed, shelf stable, sodium pumped foods into our system. Then we flip open the laptop and get a few more hours of work done. The American Dream.

We are doing more harm to ourselves than we realize. The pace is chipping away at our physical and mental health as we try to reach toward the always elusive success quota. We can’t figure out why we are always tired, bloated, achy and allergic. What we really need is right in front of us, all around us and completely free. Air. If we could all learn to be as passionate about our health as we are about chasing the almighty dollar, things might start to get better.

Studies conclude you are actually more productive when you put a break or two (or even three) in your day.

Our bodies are chained to our desk chairs, we can never get it all done and we constantly feel like we are in a hurry, under the gun and running late. At that pace, we simply don’t allow ourselves a mental break. I am guilty of this as well, but this post is therapy for me too as I make my transition from an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, entertainer to a guy that is learning how to breathe more and appreciate what I have in my life.

It’s time to stop, in our go world. Schedule some “you” time. Literally, get “you” on the schedule. Worried about the loss in productivity? Think again, studies conclude you are actually more productive when you put a break or two (or even three) in your day. You will be amazed at how amazing that time slot will make you feel. Research also proves that scheduling a break in your day for yourself allows you an opportunity to control negativity, allows you to mentally recharge your batteries and gives you a chance to really appreciate all you have been able to accomplish.

At first, you may not know what to do with yourself. So here are a few suggestions:

  1. Take a nap (I suggest a great app called pzizz).
  2. Go for a power walk (No app needed, just your legs).
  3. Try some beginner yoga (The Yoga Studio app is great for 10 to 60 minute lessons).
  4. Read a book (My rule is the book should be just for fun).
  5. Meditate, it’s not just for hippies anymore.
  6. Write yourself into a story. Keeping a journal is a great way to chronicle your feelings while taking a break.
Working too much is a gateway activity with bad results like eating poorly, laziness and loneliness.

Working too much is a gateway activity with bad results like eating poorly (fast food, no food or processed food), laziness (inactivity outside of working) and loneliness (look around you when you are sitting and staring at your computer 14 hours a day, you are missing out on life). When in doubt of what to do or how to get some calmness into your life, just take a moment, be still wherever you are, and breathe once. Do it again. Repeat. I promise you will soon get the hang of it, and it will lead you to amazing places.

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