By Justin Mazza
I’ve had battles with anxiety and worry more times than I can remember. I’ve also had more than my fair share of unwanted life events that have stressed me out.
Over the years, I learned that by focusing on my physical body and inner world or spiritual essence, it is possible to keep myself in a happier place when things get out of control. What helped me discover this, was reading dozens of books about emotional and physical health as part of a personal development journey I began in 1997. I learned a few specific things to help me feel good, especially when things are bad. I share them with you below.
Make Your Health a Priority
If you are like me, you probably reach for something sweet when you feel stress and worry. White sugar is toxic to the body in large amounts, and even small amounts, over time, can lead to insulin resistance and overwork of your internal organs.
If you have to eat something sweet, go for apples, pears, or sweet potatoes. Yes, these foods have natural sugars in them; however, the fruit’s fiber slows the rate of sugar release in your body, minimizing a surge of blood sugar.
In addition to reducing sugar, I gave up alcohol in 2005. I also became a vegetarian for over four years and gave up all flour products for almost two years. I’ve experimented with lots of dietary habits, and now my diet consists mainly of lean protein and green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens, and baby bok choy.
If you are looking for the best foods to eat for maintaining a healthy weight and eating nutritiously, try searching on YouTube for “body-builders grocery shopping” videos.
Get Good Sleep
Sleep is as essential to health and wellness as diet and exercise. The SleepFoundation.org has some thought-provoking facts about the sleep habits of most humans:
- Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.
- People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.
- Rates of insomnia increase as a function of age, but most often, the sleep disturbance is attributable to some other medical condition.
When we are sleep deprived, we are more likely to make poor choices, experience less productivity, and increase our blood pressure. So we need to make good sleep a priority.
Here are some tips for optimal sleep:
- Buy a quality mattress and pillows.
- Keep your room dark when you sleep.
- Keep your cell phone away from you while sleeping.
- If you share a bed, and your partner snores, moves a lot or is a light sleeper, consider sleeping separately.
- Stay away from stimulating foods, drinks, and media a couple of hours before bed.
Create a Spiritual Practice
I didn’t grow up religious. I celebrated Christmas and Easter, but these holidays were more about getting presents and candy. You may use your religion as your spiritual practice. If you don’t, find an activity that allows you to focus on being present in the moment. This helps to ground yourself and feel more connected with your spiritual nature.
Spirituality is when we reconnect with all of life instead of feeling separate from everyone and everything. When we feel this connection, it reduces fear, worry, and other negative mindsets.
Explore these practices:
- Practice gratitude
- Sit quietly by a river or lake
- React calmly to negative situations
Improve Your Relationship With Yourself
Some people are too easy on themselves, and some are too hard. Learn when you need to push yourself to improve in an area, and when to back-off yourself and let things sort out themselves.
What do I mean by this?
Have you ever noticed you really want something, but you’re not achieving it? This is when you need to push yourself a bit and get out of your comfort zone.
Or, have you ever pushed yourself to do something, yet things aren’t going your way? This is when you may need to back off the goal and just be still for a while.
I’ll give you an example. Last winter, I put together a home gym. I went into it full-speed. I did cardio on my treadmill for an hour a day and lifted weights like I was the second coming of Ronnie Coleman. Guess what happened? I felt sick, tired, and had extreme inflammation in my right elbow. I ended up not weight training for about a month and a half until the inflammation in my elbow went away. I eased back into regular weight training and cardio. This approach worked better for me.
This can apply to many situations in life. Taking a break is ok, but never quit something entirely that will serve your higher good.
Connection with Others
Humans are social creatures, even introverts. It’s important to have a social connection with quality people.
What are quality people?
Quality people are reliable, trustworthy, forgiving. They understand and accept you. They also give you space when you need it.
You may have many friends or just a handful; it all depends on your social needs and comfort level. For me, I have many social contacts that I can count on, if I need them. I built these relationships over the years by being trustworthy, honest, and dependable.
Granted, I don’t want to be a servant to my relationships, so having quality friendships also means setting boundaries with them.
We have access to information now more than ever. Be sure to do your research and continue your education when it comes to your happiness and well-being. Remember, the most important relationship is with yourself. Give yourself all the love and attention that you need to maintain your peace and happiness, especially when things are bad so you can feel good again.
Justin Mazza is an INFJ blogger at Mazzastick.com. He began his personal development journey in 1997, teaching and sharing what he knows with his readers. Please stop by his blog and enjoy over 480 personal growth articles in his archives section.