Tag Archives | strategy

8 Habits You May Not be Aware of that Speed up Aging

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We’re all probably aware that things like smoking and obesity shorten our lifespan, but what we may not be aware of is that there are many other seemingly harmless habits that are secretly aging us every day.

Wearing a “Worry Wart” badge

We can’t escape stress, but we can try to rein in our worrying tendencies. Worry not only make us unhappy, anxious, and mentally exhausted, not to mention the extra ice cream and comfort foods it entices us to ingest, but it actually ages the body. The constant release of cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline literally wear us out by lowering the immune system, raising blood pressure, and interfering with sleep, memory and mood.

What you can do – Try to put worries in perspective by looking at the big picture. Take a few deep breaths when anxiety rears its ugly head. Do something physical; take a walk or a few yoga poses. Meditation really does help as does setting aside a regular “worry time.” The key is not to let worry be a constant companion.

Being a sunscreen slacker

Sure, you remember to put on sunscreen when heading to the beach, but what about driving to work, walking the dog, or doing errands. Repeated daily exposure to the sun can actually cause significant premature aging. Researchers in Australia recently found in a study of 900 participants that those who consistently applied sunscreen daily had smoother, more resilient and younger looking skin. So not only does skipping the daily sunscreen raise the risk of skin cancer, it also weakens skin cells and can surprisingly make us more prone to bruising and skin injury.

What you can do – Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of at least 15, preferably 30. Use a nickel size dollop for the face an amount equivalent to a shot glass to cover all exposed areas of the body every day. Once it becomes a habit, it will only take a few minutes and can save your skin years of premature leathery skin.

Having a “Sweet Spot” for sugar

We know sugar can pack on the pounds, but health experts now believe that sugar is secretly aging us. Sugar damages our skin by drying out the collagen and elastin that are naturally present, resulting in dull, dry, sagging and wrinkle prone skin.  This process, known as glycation also causes dark circles and puffiness. Both of which are not only unattractive, but make us look and feel older. These effects begin at about 35 and rapidly increase after that, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

What you can do – Let’s face it sugar is tough to eliminate completely, but trying to minimize consumption will pay off in a big way. Aim for no more than 10% of daily calories and watch out for those hidden sugars! Read labels and try to limit sweet treats to a few times per week.

You think exercise is only for weight-loss

Whether you need to lose weight or not, exercise literally helps turn back our body clock. Regular and consistent exercise, even something as simple as a daily 30 minute walk can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, improve memory and concentration, increase muscle tone and best of all significantly reduce chronic stress. As a bonus, regular exercise will help the pounds stay off and protect our muscle mass and bone density.

What you can do – Go for a daily walk with a friend or Fido, take up a physical hobby or join a group sport or class. Get an exercise buddy or find an event to compete in. Anything that will motivate and make exercise more fun will help keep you active.

You hold a grudge

Holding on to a grudge or anger are not only damaging to your mental health, but they can age you physically as well. If you can let things go, you may be adding years to your body. Studies have shown a link between forgiveness and physical health. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine showed that a lack of forgiveness lowered sleep quality, increased stress causing hormones, raised blood pressure and elevated blood sugar resulting in weight gain and an increased likelihood of needing medication. In short, learn how to let go, and you may live longer.

What you can do – Recognize that holding on to anger and resentment hurt you more than the other person. Forgiveness does not mean that you need to be a victim or give trust where it’s not warranted. Learn to let things go and you may indeed live longer…not to mention happier. And that’s the best revenge anyway.

You’re too busy for your friends

When you were younger, your friends probably figured prominently in your calendar, but as we acquire more responsibility, demanding jobs, partners, parenting and household duties the time for friends slips away. But making time for friends isn’t a luxury. Studies have shown that sustaining friendships are better predictors of longevity than even family. Strong friendships can help alleviate depression, deal with mental stress as well as reduce our risk of many chronic conditions all of which age us prematurely.

What can you do – Carve regular friend time in your schedule, even if it’s just once a week. Do it digitally if you have to. While in person is best, communicating via email or Facebook count too. Reach out to old and new friends and put effort into cultivating log term relationships that nurture and support.

You love the remote

A British Journal of Sports Medicine study of 11,000 adults discovered that every hour in front of the TV shortens your life expectancy by 22 minutes, even more for the remote addicts among us, those who average more than six hours a day live on average five years less than non-TV watchers. It’s not so much about the TV watching, as it is the inactivity. But while you might not be able to change a sedentary job, you can control how much couch time you get.

What you can do – The simplest strategy is simply to watch less TV! But there are some tricks you might want to try. Watch TV while walking on the treadmill or exercising, but one of those portable stepper machines and work off those chips while you’re at it. Or try getting up to walk around during every commercial break.

You can’t remember the last time you had sex!

Yes, sex feels good, but it’s also fantastically healthy.  Research shows that an active sex life can help strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce pain, relieve depression and the Journal of the American Medical Association now reports sex may even lower your risk for certain types of cancer. During sex, the body releases chemicals such as endorphin, serotonin, and other immune and mood boosting substances that not only make you healthier and happier, but can actually make you look years younger.

What you can do – Things like getting more sleep and exercising can increase sex drive and energy. Also, you might try reading erotic or romantic material, getting a quick massage or dressing the part to get in the mood. For the practical minded…schedule it. Swap out that favorite TV show for some extra “love time.” Your body…and your partner will thank you.

This post was originally published on Lifehack.org

Featured photo credit: delta creme donuts – lucianvenutian via flickr.com

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How Do You Deal With the Elephant? And Why It’s Important

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Just think about this for a minute. Think about how you react when faced with a situation where there is an obvious “elephant in the room.” You know what I’m referring to – unresolved conflicts, difficult conversations, hard feelings, anger, embarrassment, hurt feelings, touchy subjects, things that make you fidget internally (maybe externally too.)

It’s that uncomfortable “thing” that’s there, you can’t see it, but you can sure feel it.

How do you behave? What are you thinking? What’s your strategy for getting through the discomfort?

We pretty much fall into 3 camps.

The Evader“If I ignore it, it’ll just go away.” To this person the thought of conflict causes a great deal of anxiety. They prefer to leave it alone and live with the discomfort. Perhaps they’re afraid of the consequences, perhaps they simply don’t know what to do.

Either way they turn away from the elephant and try to pretend he’s not there – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t…

The Prompter“This must be resolved. It’s driving me nuts. I have to do something.” To this person anything unresolved or uncomfortable that’s left hanging out there is a source of great frustration and anxiety, a thorn in the side.

They can’t rest until the elephant is addressed…so they poke it to prompt a dialogue, sometimes with a gentle nudge to start the conversation, sometimes with a sharp jab to get the elephant’s full attention. Again sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t – resolution or escalation…

The Accepter “I really don’t need to address this.” This person believes either the elephant is not a big deal, it’s not their responsibility, there is nothing they can do to resolve the issue or it’s simply not the appropriate circumstance. This is different from avoiding or ignoring. This person accepts that the elephant is there, but has intellectually determined that it does not require addressing for whatever reason.

What differentiates this person from their cousin, The Evader, is that there is no anxiety, only acknowledgement. It certainly seems that this strategy would be less stressful, but there is a risk of evasion being masked as acceptance and a reluctance to act even when appropriate. It’s a balancing act and again sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

One is not necessarily better than the other; it’s often a matter of personality, priorities and communication style.

But the reality is that the way we deal with the elephant in the room is also the way we handle life in general. (Feel free to Tweet that.)

So the question to be asked is not whether your style and strategy is wrong or right, but whether it best serves you. Does it cause or alleviate stress? Does it help get the results you want or interfere?

Something to think about…

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Real Age Wisdom You Need To Remember

realageSome timeless wisdom you need to remember from RealAge.com.

To Feel Content, Just Take a Stand

Has something in the news gotten your ire up? Taking a stand on it could boost your quality of life.

New research shows that not just believing in a cause, but actively supporting it, tends to translate into a happier, more contented life.

Power Beyond the Pen

In a series of studies, researchers surveyed over 1,000 adults to find out if they considered themselves to be activists for any particular issue, from supporting antiwar politics to championing human rights. And the researchers found that the stronger a person’s activism, the better that person felt — as long as his or her activities weren’t extreme. Specifically, the highly engaged activists reported experiencing more positive emotions, feeling more satisfied with their lives, and feeling more connected to others. (Here’s another get-happy strategy that will help you feel more satisfied every day.)

The Good in Do-Gooding

Investing yourself in issues that are important to you helps strengthen your sense of self and fosters personal feelings of purpose — both of which can help get you through tough or stressful times. So whether you write letters to Congress or start a nonprofit, take an active stand on the things you believe in. And here are just a few more ways that doing good for others does your own life some major good:

It can keep your mind from slowing down.

It can boost longevity.

RealAge Benefit:

Taking care of your emotional health and well-being can make your RealAge up to 16 years younger.

I don’t know about you…but I’m all for feeling younger!

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18 Minutes That Can Save You Hours

It’s so easy to get off track…and sometimes we need a reminder. I was just listening to an interview by one of my favorite podcasters, Accidental Creativewhere he was discussing time management, or maybe more accurately ‘priority management,’ with Peter Bregman. I love Peter Bregman’s philosophy and process and am a fan of his book “18 Minutes.” In fact it has a prominent place on the bookshelf in my office…but I had sort of forgotten it was there. It was a good reminder that had me reaching for the book once again.

While I don’t follow Peter’s plan precisely, I do think he lays out a simple solution to a problem that plagues most of us; too much to do, a never-ending task list, and the overwhelming struggle to master the issue of time management.

To be fair, his 18 minutes a day process alone is not the entire solution. He goes beyond daily task management, to address the larger issues that overwhelm us, not being happy and fulfilled with what we’re doing, feeling like we’re beating our heads against the wall and becoming more clear about where we want to go with our lives.

With strategies like using the Four Elements of Focus, hourly reminders and learning to pause.

“A brief pause will help you make a smarter move. Know what outcome you want before you respond.”

- Peter Bregman

Here’s a quick summary of the “18 Minutes” process…Read the book for the full explanation…

STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been productive and successful? Write those things down.

Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?

The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It’s simple. This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.

And, at the end of the day, isn’t that a higher priority?

Let me know your thoughts on this book?

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A Better Life is Within Your Reach…The Mission Begins…

Let's Do This!What if someone told you that you could change the quality of your life just by making one small change each week. Would you do it? I mean who doesn’t want to have a better quality life – live better, work smarter, be happier and all that goes along with that.

Well, this year, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, along with hopefully many of my “reader friends,” (yes, that’s you.) We’re kicking off a yearlong series of weekly mini-missions, (we’re all busy after-all,) broken down into manageable chunks – smarter choices, actions, steps we can take improve the quality of our lives one week at a time. Practical. Do-able. (If you’re thinking you’re life is already pretty good, I challenge you to raise the bar!)

Here’s the thing: I bet quite a few of us know what we need/want to do to have the lives we envision. We’ve heard the experts, read the tips, seen the studies, bought the books even, but we already have so much going on…and there’s just so much information and advice out there. It’s just too much…too much to take on.

The more we learn about goal achievement and change, the more we discover that our greatest odds of success are achieved when we make small incremental changes in our lives and build, build, build.

The problem is that for many of us that path to growth, (personal or professional,) seems too slow. I don’t know about you, but I can be very impatient, I want change NOW. But, that said, I think you and I are both smart enough to recognize that it’s wiser to use the strategy that works…even if it takes longer, than to find ourselves in the same place week after week, year after year…because significant change takes too much time and energy.

Let’s bite the bullet and get it done…week by week, bit by bit, we can make those small changes that are standing in the path of a Better Life…a Better You…and a Better Me.

Over the course of this year we’ll tackle things like –  Health and Wellness( Fitness, Energy, Stress,) Money Management,( Earning, Saving, Financial Stewardship,) Developing the Potential of Your Mind,(Attitude, Shifting your Mindset, Expanding your Knowledge and Skills,) Cultivating more Positive and Meaningful Relationships, (Deeper Connections, Better Communication, Expanding your Social and Professional Networks,) Organization and Time Utilization (Focus, Organization, Action, Planning, Being Productive, Follow-thru,) Fulfilling Worklife, ( Success, Rewarding Career, Balance,) Responsible Living (Environment, Community, Contribution,) and Life Juice, (Joy, Happiness, Passion, Creativity, Fun, Gratitude, Meaning and Purpose.)

You don’t have to tackle them all of course. Pick and choose…take what you need…try what you like, but as with anything in life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. (I’ll be doing it right along with you and I can’t wait to compare notes…)

*Speaking of notes…Got ideas, problem areas or requests for what you’d like to see in upcoming weekly missions, feel free to drop me a line or post on our Facebook page. (Just joining us…Find all of the Better Life Mini-Missions here…)

Now, to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite authors, Danielle LaPorte…

Life’s Too Short, Let’s Do This

Mission #1:  Rest…Sleep…Zzzs… Let’s figure it out once and for all.

There’s a reason this appears on nearly every list of goals, resolutions, things to do, habits…because it’s the foundation of everything else we do in life…and most of us are still doing a terrible job of it.

It’s not just about getting more sleep (we’ve heard that before,) it’s about knowing the best sleep solution for us personally. The problem may very well be that we don’t really know how much sleep we need, or what sleep pattern works best for us, let alone how to get it.

This week take the time and effort to figure it out. Don’t make any other changes. Just experiment with how much sleep works best – make it a priority just for this week. The good news…not everyone needs the often-recommended 8 hours, many do just fine on less, and some actually need more. Moreover, it might not even be the amount of sleep; it might just be the pattern or timing.

Tactics to Try:

Go to bed 30 minutes early – you’d be surprised at what a difference it can make.

Squeeze in a 20-minute nap during lunch.

Shift your sleep pattern – For example, instead of going to bed at 11:30 and getting up at 6, try going to bed at 10:30 and getting up at 5:00. You might be able to get more done in the early AM anyway.

Trouble falling asleep? Try some wind down tactics – do some yoga, stretching, meditate, read a boring book, whatever calms your mind.

You know the drill…avoid caffeine, alcohol, news, electronics, and work close to bedtime…

There are many over the counter sleep aids that might help – natural and pharmaceutical. This may be a temporary solution, especially if you’re going thru a stressful time.

If you’re truly suffering from insomnia or chronic poor quality sleep, this is the time to make an appointment to see your doctor. Prescription sleep aids should be a last resort…but that said…you have to sleep. And a sleep study may uncover an underlying issue.

Sleep really does affect everything from attitude to weight to productivity to brain function.

We are just now discovering that sleep deprivation actually shortens our life span!

Just experiment. You may actually not need to change your sleep habits as much as you think.

This will not be easy for me…and it may not be so easy for you. My days are filled and I imagine yours are as well…and when I do get down time, I really want to decompress and read (my favored leisure activity,) but in all honesty, I need the sleep more.

So let’s give a try…you and me…

What are your sleep issues? Obstacles? Do you know how much sleep you need? Can you remember a time when you felt well rested?

Leave a comment or share on our Facebook page!

(Just joining us… Find all of the Mini-Missions here…)

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