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Be Happy Be Healthy Self-Help

How to Avoid Stress and Anxiety? By Being Hopeful, Grateful and Mindful.

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers! The only new year resolution I made this year is to avoid stress and anxiety. But how? I found the answer to this question in a beautiful quote from a good friend, Seung-Ah Kim who is a stroryteller from South Korea.

Looking forward makes me hopeful. Looking back makes me grateful. Being present makes me peaceful.

Seung Ah- Kim

In just one sentence Seung-Ah managed to capture what life is all about, which is quite a ‘tour de force’. For my first blog article of 2022, I thought that it would be a good idea to develop this a little bit and share with my readers some thoughts on how to avoid stress and anxiety by being hopeful, grateful and mindful.

Avoid stress and anxiety by looking forward and by being hopeful about the future

How to avoid stress and anxiety. Photo featuring Joanne and Alize Reed in Plateau Kerval Reunion Island. This is truthfully the most beautiful place I have been to. It was kind of surreal, a mix of Jurassic Park and enchanted forest; and it was definitely worth the long arduous trek and difficult weather conditions to get there.

Everyone hopes for something. We are living in an age of despair, fractured communities where we are being forced to alienate ourselves from our family, friends, colleagues, and clients. The world currently is filled with fear, stress, and sadness, and it can become second nature to develop a negative worldview and a feeling of hopelessness. There seems to be more pain than we can heal, more dissent than we can mediate, and more uncertainty than we can comprehend.

In times like this, what can we do to comfort ourselves, and the people around us? We can call upon Hope to step into our life. Hope is a powerful antidote to feelings of despair and desolation. Hope acts as the light in the midst of darkness and will bring you renewed optimism and vitality. Hope doesn’t mean that life has to be all rainbows and butterflies, it doesn’t mean that you are always happy and that you can’t feel emotions like hurt, sadness, or anger, but it does mean that your view of your circumstances and those of the world around you go beyond what it is actually happening.

Hope is the place you want to go when you find yourself sitting in a dark place. Hope is the name of the person you want to know where all the people around you are spreading fear and misery. Hope is the seed that is buried deep inside you that you want to sprinkle around like magic fairy dust. Hope is the feeling that carries you through, no matter what.

Joanne Reed

Avoid stress and anxiety by being grateful for your past experiences

How to avoid stress and anxiety. Photo taken by Alize Reed featuring Joanne and Sarah in PLateau Kerval Reunion Island. This is truthfully the most beautiful place I have been to. It was kind of surreal, a mix of Jurassic Park and enchanted forest; and it was definitely worth the long arduous trek and difficult weather conditions to get there.

Looking back at your past experiences, every one of us would be able to highlight some beautiful and happy memories, but also some bad experiences as well. We have all heard the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; with this, in mind, we should remember that life is a mishmash of good, bad, and sometimes ugly experiences.

Don’t you ever regret knowing someone in your life. Good people give you happiness. Bad people will give you experience, while the worst people will give you a lesson, and the best people will give memories.

Unknown author

Talking about negative experiences in our life leads me to also talk about the concept of acceptance or to let things be. Misery is not just an absence of pleasure, but it is also caused by unmet expectations and aspirations, and by a continuous need for approval in our personal and professional lives. These disappointments, some big and some small cause some people a lot of stress and anxiety and may result in depression or other mental illnesses. Psychologists and therapists believe that a lot of this struggle and stress can be avoided if we practice the art of acceptance.

A standard acceptance definition in psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change or protest it. Acceptance does not equate to approval, which is more about a good opinion of someone (or something) but is more a subtle feeling that connotes there is something in the situation less than appealing, but for various reasons, we tolerate its imperfections.

It is a well-accepted concept that practicing gratitude, whether it’s internalized or externalized, can have a number of positive psychological effects. Multiple studies found that people who express gratitude experience overall better well-being and higher levels of positivity whether they started out with mental issues or not.

It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.

Germany Kent

When we recall happy memories, we are often nostalgic, and remind ourselves how things used to be. When we recall less happy events, there is a tendency to hold on to those unhappy memories too. Accepting the reality of our situation allows us to move forward and gives us more energy to focus on the present moment to feel grateful for the people and things we have now.

Avoid stress and anxiety by being present and mindful.

How to avoid stress and anxiety. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in PLateau Kerval Reunion Island. This is truthfully the most beautiful place I have been to. It was kind of surreal, a mix of Jurassic Park and enchanted forest; and it was definitely worth the long arduous trek and difficult weather conditions to get there.

I am sure you have all heard the saying “don’t let the future steal your present”. Although we all know the saying, a lot of us don’t put this into practice, but we should because it could save us from depression and anxiety. Psychologists often say that depression lives in the past; anxiety lives in the future and calmness and peace of mind live in the present.

The trend these days is to learn to be more mindful, which inherently means learning and practicing to be more present in the moment. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. So if you don’t want to be depressed or anxious, practice mindfulness.

You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere, and with anyone by being fully engaged in the here and now. Many people go about their daily lives with their minds wandering from the actual activity they are participating in, to other thoughts, desires, fears, or wishes; but it has been said that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind”.

I would like to encourage all my readers and followers to look forward and be hopeful. Be grateful for all the things and events in your life (happy or less happy ones) that made you the person you are today. And whatever you do practice mindfulness so that you can be peaceful too.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com

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Self-Help Uncategorized

Don’t worry, it’s ok to worry, if you do it in small doses

There are so many things to worry about these days, you worry about your health, your career, your relationship, your kids, your family, the food you eat, and the list goes on and on. Worrying doesn’t feel good, it sucks the life out of you, makes you anxious, and can turn you into a neurotic mess. Worrying stems from a desire to be in control. We often want to control our environment, or we want control over the outcome of every situation. But the more you try to control everything around you the more anxious you feel. Worrying about the things you can’t control will drain you of your mental strength and will leave you in a state where you can’t operate properly. Although worrying does not feel good, new research shows that worry can have surprising benefits, when done in just the right amount. So, don’t worry, it’s OK to worry if you do it in small doses.


“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere”

English Proverb

Don’t worry, It’s OK to worry; if you do it in small doses

New research shows that worrying done right is actually a powerful tool that can help you in all areas of your life. The trick is to find the balance between healthy worrying and being a neurotic mess. A recent study published in Social & Personality Psychology Compass, argues that although extreme levels of worry are associated with depressed mood, poor physical health, and even mental illness, worry has an upside; a little anxiety is healthy, it can help people recover from trauma, be better planners, live a healthier lifestyle and even overcome depression. So, don’t worry, It’s OK to worry; if you do it in small doses.

Worrying can have positive effects on behavior and can motivate people to take action and make preparations to prevent an undesirable outcome from taking place. Parenting is an anxiety landmine that lasts at least 18 years. Parents often worry about their children, they will fret as to whether their kids are wearing the right type of clothes for the weather, whether they had eaten enough, slept enough, whether they are safe and happy; and when the children are a bit older, parents worry about their offspring getting involved with unhealthy habits such as drugs, alcohol, and hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Worrying about our loved one show them that we care about them. Worrying about our health can motivate us to change our diet, hit the gym, and do regular check-ups. Worrying about an exam or a work presentation may indicate to us that we should do more preparation, research the subject more thoroughly, practice our pitch one more time.

How much worry is too much?

Don’t Worry, it’s Ok to worry if you do it in small doses. Photo by Benzoix via freepik.com

Like most things, worrying is all about balance. Worry too little and you put yourself in danger; worry too much and you may never leave your house again. When you feel trapped in your mind, with nowhere to go, having to deal with your fertile imagination and your anxiety as dreaded companions, you know you have crossed the line. Below are a few tips to help you manage worry when things get out of control.

Change the things that you can change and for the rest change your perspective

Identify what is within your control and what isn’t. For example, you can control how eye-catching your marketing ads are, but you can’t control whether people will buy your product, and that’s the way it is. If it’s within your control, tackle the problem. If it’s out of your control, focus on changing your perspective. Remind yourself you can change your thoughts and perspectives on things, you can change the meaning you attach to specific events, your conclusions, and expectations. Much of our disappointment, hurt, sadness, anger, etc, that we experience is a result of unmet expectations. So, if we change our expectations, we will be able to dramatically decrease the negative feelings that result from experiencing unmet expectations. I know, it’s easier said than done, but have a go at it anyway and see if it helps.

Don’t worry, accept that life Is uncertain

Accepting a situation does not mean that you have to like it, rather it means that you stop fighting it. And that releases you from the suffering. Instead of focusing on how you would like something to be different, recognize and accept the problem or situation as it is. Remember, accepting is not the same as liking or condoning something. Learning to accept the problems that are out of your control will lead to less anxiety, anger, and sadness when dealing with them.

Exercise

Regularly moving your body is not only good for your body, but it also helps you improve your mood and it actually gives you something to do and someplace to go. Taking a walk when feeling overwhelmed can help reset your mood, give you a sense of control, and get you back on the right track. Listen to your favorite tracks whilst walking and your worry will be silenced by the sound of music. So, don’t worry, it’s OK to worry; if you do it in small doses.

Meditate and practice gratitude

Being thankful for the things that are going well in your life can help you put things into perspective and will make you less anxious. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you feel more in control of your life and the things that you can’t control will begin feeling less overwhelming. Stay still for a minute or two, reflect, and meditate. So, don’t worry, it’s OK to worry if you do it in small doses.

Talk to the Sun, the Moon, the Rain, and the Breeze.

Ask the Sun to bring you new energy by day.

Ask the Moon to restore you by night.

Ask the Rain to wash away your worries.

Ask the Breeze to blow new strength into your being.

If you do this, you will be able to forget all your worries

You will walk as tall as the trees

And to stand as strong as the mountain.

And this, my dear Friend, is Your Quest.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code

Categories
Self-Help

Positivity vs. Negativity – Battle of the Fittest

Martial Arts

Art takes many forms; as an author, I consider myself an artist. In my free time, I am also a ‘martial artist’. The term ‘martial arts’ is closely associated with the fighting arts of East Asia; the term is however derived from Latin and means ‘arts of Mars,’ the Roman god of war. I practice Muay Thai (also known as Kick Boxing); the word ‘muay’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘wavya’ which means ‘bind together’ and the word ‘thai’ refers to the country Thailand. Its generic name means ‘unarmed combat,’ a true test in any battle of the fittest.

Muay Thai in Namsan Park, Seoul

Martial arts have health and spiritual benefits; the spiritual benefits include teaching self-respect, respect for others, patience, humility, self-control and modesty, the health benefits derived from the conditioning that helps keep the body fit, strong and properly toned. To be effective, a good Muay Thai fighter must keep his physical and mental condition in balance, he must move with speed, but also show common sense and intelligence, he must train both his mind and his body with dedication, concentration, and discipline. Muay Thai also develops a sense of brotherhood, a fighter will help others when the opportunity arises, and will never resort to fighting unless there is no other option available.

The history of Muay Thai can be traced to the middle of the 18th century. During battles between the Burmese of the Konbaung Dynasty and Siam, the famous fighter Nai Khanomtom was captured. The Burmese knew of his expertise in hand-to-hand combat and gave him an opportunity to fight for his freedom. Nai Khanomtom managed to knock out ten consecutive Burmese contenders. Impressed by his skill, he was freed and returned to Siam where his fighting style became known as Muay Thai and later recognized as a national sport.

Getting Balanced

If you ever feel a bit off-balance or stressed-out I recommend you find a Muay Thai class and develop your fighting spirit because, perhaps without realizing it, we are all engaged in fierce battles every day. These battles occur within us between positivity and negativity. For the sake of this article, I will call positivity ‘Yang’ (positive, bright, masculine) and negativity ‘Yin’ (negative, dark, feminine). Picture those two in a ring; if your first impulse is to cheer and expect ‘Yang’ to win, I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken, in a battle of the fittest, ‘Yin‘ would triumph.

Yin and Yang in the Battle of the Fittest

Battle of the Fittest – Negativity

Our brain has a negative bias, it loves negativity! Our brain is wired with a much greater sensitivity to unpleasant rather than pleasant news. Dr John Cacioppo, the ‘Scientist of Loneliness’ from  Ohio State University, conducted a study to demonstrate this effect by contrasting the effect on the brain of pictures arousing positive feelings (such as sport cars, holiday shots, ice creams, etc.), negative feelings (such as mutilated faces or dead cats), and, for good measure pictures to arouse neutral feelings (of everyday objects, such as dinners plate and hair dryers).

The subjects had their brain activity recorded during the experiment providing data to Dr. Cacioppo to analyze. The results showed very clearly that our brain reacts more strongly to negative rather than positive stimuli. Our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat rather than good news and that information is stored in our short to long term memory. This is why ‘Yin’ has a better chance of winning against ‘Yang.’

Our weighting of negative input is an evolutionary development to keep us out of harm’s way. Back in prehistory, when humans faced life or death situations every day, it was far more important for the brain to respond to negative rather than positive stimuli. If a wild animal charged towards you, you needed to fight or run away and to take that decision in a split-second. But, in non-threatening situations, like being offered food, or a gift, there is no such requirement for speed – your brain can react very slowly. To make matters worse, not only do we react more quickly to negative experiences, we are looking for them all the time. This makes it extremely easy for our minds to get into a negative feedback loop; you are hyper-aware of negativity and when it happens, you react quicker, it impacts you more and you remember it for longer. One scientist described the brain like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. 

Positive Outlook

When faced with decisions or uncertainties, it is natural to have a fear of the unknown, I confess – this happens to me a lot, which creates a lot of anxiety and negative emotions.  Unfortunately, the nature of the world is uncertain; nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, and it is important to maintain a positive outlook.

According to Sadhguru, Indian yogi, mystic, and author:

you cannot overcome something which does not exist. Your fear is always about something that does not exist. Fear is happening because of excessive imagination. It is about things that haven’t happened yet, but you are creating those things in your mind. Fear means that you are producing horror movies in your mind. Produce something else, produce a comedy, a love story, an action movie.”

In the battle of the fittest, it is important to have a positive outlook and understand that we all have a natural tendency to be negative; you must train yourself to be a ‘Yang.’ Being positive, overcoming negative emotions requires dedication, discipline, and patience – just like with Muay Thai – and just like being a successful Muay Thai fighter it is necessary to train your body and spirit to work together, so that when the time comes to do battle against ‘Yin,’ the negative spirit, the odds will be in your favor.

And this, my Dear Friend is your Quest.


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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.