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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.





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. 




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.