The thing about Psychopaths

Humans are organizers. There’s evidence that our species has been doing it for as long as we have a recorded history. We may have begun this process by keeping nuts and berries in nooks and crannies, eventually engineering totes and pots for our tools and trinkets — but over hundreds of thousands of years it has evolved into a full-fledged never-ending process of sorting, labeling, judging, and acting on these judgments about everything. We’re so adept at this process that we often do it without being aware of it. It’s as disconnected from our daily consciousness as breathing. And just as we can gain significant benefits by paying attention to our breath (even for a few moments daily), there are profound opportunities for those who develop a more deliberate awareness of their own personal practice of judging.

You know that strange sensation that can sometimes arise when we start thinking about our own breathing (strange, because we rarely pay any attention to it)? That same infrequency of attention accompanies most of the judgments we make. We judge almost non-stop, but rarely do we pay attention when it’s happened or consider it’s impact. We judge the thing occupying our attention in this moment, and promptly forget about it when another thing pushes it aside. But the judgment remains, as does the praise or condemnation that will likely accompany any future interaction with that thing. In a phrase,

Labels are hard to shake.

It would be difficult to argue that the act of judgment and categorization are purposeless or lacking any benefit to our species. Critical thinking has empowered us to better explore and subsequently make sense of ourselves and the universe around us. While the vast majority of daily judgments are woefully misinformed and lead to potentially problematic ends, judgment isn’t the problem, per se. And in the same way that it feels strange noticing our own breath, becoming mindful of the process may feel awkward at first, especially if this is a new idea to you.

That’s why I like this video. It reveals, with surgical precision, the tsunami of nuance that can easily arise when we stop to examine the labels we apply — labels which we rarely have any logical reason for gratuitously applying to almost everything in our lives.

This video has been a helpful catalyst for raising crucial questions in my own day-to-day experience. Here are a few examples of those questions:

  • What/who do I judge?
  • What process do I employ when I judge?
  • What influences (or who’s perceived authority) do I allow to persuade my judgment?
  • Is this pattern of judgment something I’ve chosen, or did I simply inherit it from the culture/society around me?
  • Is the thing I am judging good, or do I just choose to label it as good?
  • Is this thing bad, or am I choosing to ignore/undervalue the benefit that surely exists if I simply judge it differently?
  • Am I operating in “black and white” thinking, or have I made space to consider more diverse perspectives than my own?
  • Does anyone get the opposite effect from this idea/place/person/thing than I do? If so, is it due more to personal subjectivity or objective reality?

Check out the video above, and see if practicing mindfulness while re-assessing the judgments you’ve made might provide value to you. Will developing a new process to mindfully judging future experiences in your life simplify and improve your daily life?

What do you think? Can you think back on any time in your own life when you’ve re-assessed old judgments and come up with more informed or diverse perspectives? Can you identify any challenges you feel this process might pose?

It’s Indie Support Week!

It’s April here in America, and we’re jumping aboard Indie Support Week, the brain child of John Sundell (original tweet found here). Great idea, John! These apps are created by indie developers like us, and by downloading, sharing, rating, or paying for additional features in their apps, you are helping to support development of great apps, games, and tools. Join us as we celebrate a few from the list. Be sure to catch our special bonus at the end of this post for the first few readers who act fast.

To kick it off, I’d like to talk about my favorite pick so far:

SECRET SIGNS

Secret signs is a fun little gem that is both simple and beautiful. It was picked as Apple’s Game of the Day, and I’m not surprised. If you’re looking for a chance to practice mindful attentiveness with a soothing game experience, look no further.

Brain puzzlers are some of my very favorites (Limbo, Lifeline, Blackbar, Letterpress are some of my favorites. Hey, look! I love apps that start with “L” apparently!). This game easily belongs among those others, and has provided a welcome repose from endless coronavirus news updates. Best of all, each puzzle provides a little factoid once solved, a decadent butter-cream frosting on an already delightful cake.

Download the app from the iOS App Store as well as the Google Play Store. It includes 6 free puzzles, and you can access 18 more puzzles via in-app purchase for $1.99. Well done, Wouter!

MINDFUL AFFIRMATIONS

Joan Cardona, from Barcelona (say that out loud, it’s really fun!) created this nifty little app that fills your emotional cup with teaspoon-sized servings of positivity.

Before you decide this sounds too woo-woo or frou-frou for you, listen up. I, too, was dubious about the app while installing and signing up. After walking through the short setup process, I decided to give Steps Towards Daily Happiness a shot (in the Everyday Joy section). Despite my initial skepticism, I was feeling a marked shift in my internal weather patterns by the 4th affirmation. In this one there were a total of 19 short one-sentence affirmations which loop, and I can only see these helping most folks’ psychological state. The female voice sported a likable (and mild) European accent. The background music added a nice touch, tying the short individual affirmations together.

This app takes a simple idea and does it right. Download it and give it a try. If you decide you want the full library, you can do so for a small monthly or annual subscription rate. Mindful Affirmations is available for free from the iOS App Store.

SIMPLE RECIPES

Simple Recipes is a Mac, iOS, and tvOS app which is currently in beta. It allows you to add recipes, organize ingredient and shopping lists, find meal ideas, and create meal plans right on your devices.

The app looks clean and well-designed, and easy to use — but don’t let the ease and good design fool you. For those who want to geek out a bit, you can use Markup to spruce up your recipes with links, images, and formatting to keep it all clean and readable. If that all sounds too complex for you, stick with simple formatting and let the app organize things for you. I’m a big believer in nutritious home-cooked meals. With the way things have been the last few months, this has become a higher priority than ever. Having a way to organize meals as well as shopping lists for reduced trips outside the house has become a key piece of our “hunker down” plan.

This app looks like a tool that will help that process run even more smoothly. Simple Recipes is currently in beta, and you can request beta access on their website: simplerecipes.com.

CONGRATS, YOU MADE IT! HAVE A PRIZE!

While we think all three apps listed here are worth your attention, there’s one that delighted us with its simple, fun (affordable!) gameplay. You guessed it, Secret Signs is our top pick today. To help support Wouter Walmink (the creator of Secret Signs), we’ve decided to give away 50 in-app purchases of the Secret Signs app. Since Apple hasn’t yet enabled gifting of In-App purchases, here’s how it will work:

1. Download Secret Signs from the iOS App Store or from the Google Play Store.
2. Launch the game. Once you’re on the riddle screen, mash the blue “Unlock all riddles” button.
3. When the charge hits your account, follow the instructions to find the purchases in your Apple App Store or Google Play Store purchase history.
4. Take a screenshot of both the app download and in-app purchase made after April 2, 2020 (feel free to hide/erase any non-related info or purchases).
5. Forward the screenshot(s) to hey@skytripping.com, and we will issue a digital Cash payment in the US, or a Paypal payment for international readers. (Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you can receive Cash or Paypal payments).
6. That’s it. We will send reimbursement to the first 50 requests we get. Be sure to support Wouter by giving Secret Signs a positive rating/review in the App Store once you download it.

Good luck and stay safe out there! Remember your social distancing and stay home as much as possible!

Stay Centered with these Free Apps & Services

With the recent disruptions in almost all aspects of our daily lives, it’s becoming increasingly important to take conscious steps toward keeping our minds, bodies, and emotions in check. We have compiled a short list of apps and services which can help you keep your world running smoothly during this chaotic time. As we previously announced, full access to the Sky Tripping app is free while the pandemic is underway. Check out the links below, and let us know in the comments if you find any other tips on great sites, apps, or services that everyone should know about.

MENTAL HEALTH

Sanvello for Stress and Anxiety — A simple, beautifully designed experience to help users manage stress and anxiety, Sanvello has opted to make their app and services free for all while Covid-19 crisis is active. It includes tools to help users actively engage in practices which help improve their mood and wellness, as well as community interaction so you’re not alone (even if you do happen to find yourself physically isolated).

Headspace — A household name in meditation, Headspace has committed to being there for us to help calm the chaos while Covid-19 is underway. The content called Weathering the Storm is available to all. Jump in and give it a try if you’re finding your emotions straying or your mind running all over the place. A few minutes of self-care can’t hurt.

The Holistic Psychologist — Not an app, per se, but this instagram account is a tremendous resource for those wanting to engage in “the work”. If you are ready to take ownership of your emotions, thought processes, and life direction, this is a great resource featuring bite-sized tips encouraging healthier patterns of thought and response. A definite must for those of us wanting to maintain productive relationships with self and others.

STAYING CONNECTED AT A DISTANCE

Spokt Private Family Sharing — Keeping up-to-date on family health and status is a high priority for many while uncertainty looms. Spokt is similar to Facebook Groups, but private and secure. Spokt gives you a Hub (your own private space) to share videos, photos, and text updates for the whole family to see and discuss. In order to get a free hub set up to stay connected during the Covid-19 disruption, contact the Spokt team here.

eFamily.com — Similar to Spokt, eFamily is providing full accounts at no charge for family and friends to stay in touch for the time being. Email help@efamily.com in order to get free access.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Down Dog Yoga — Speaking of social distancing, are you missing the physical grind at your local gym or studio? Are you into Yoga? This might just be the app for you. Down Dog is available for free right until at least May 1st. Download. Stand up. Get moving. With data showing that moving can improve both physical and mental health, this is a simple way we can all stack the odds in our favor while things are in flux.

7 Minute Workout — Just because you have more time every day doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole life getting fit. And with studies showing that short, focused workouts can rival longer traditional workouts, this app gives you a chance to get active without getting overwhelmed.

LEARNING

Virtual Museum Tours — I’ll admit, this sounded dumb to me. I shouldn’t print that, but there it is. However, with the gentle insistence of my wife over a few day’s time, I finally succumbed — in no small part because I noticed the screenshot featuring the Uffizi Gallery in Firenze, Italy, a place I wandered for hours on my recent trip to Italy. I’m glad I gave in. After downloading the Google Arts and Culture app, the family went on a virtual adventure soaking in the art found inside the 36,000 year French Chauvet Caves. We were mesmerized by simple, informative, and beautiful works of ancient creation. 5/5 recommended!

Duolingo — This app is highly recommended and one we’ve personally used to supercharge our own language learning (I personally used the Italian Course prior to my recent trip to the land of romance). Simple to use and gamified for fun, now might just be the perfect time to dig into that second language you’ve always wanted to learn but never had time for (until now).

Khan Academy — Khan Academy is one of the most well-known names on the web for expert education at just the right price: free. Jump in and exercise your brain. It may not sound like much, but engaging your brain in developing new skills or knowledge is an important element in mental and emotional health.

Making time to check in, practice a little self care, and maintain good emotional, psychological, physical, and social health will pay huge dividends right now. This won’t last forever. Things will look up. Keep yourself in a healthy place. Take a few moments for yourself throughout the day so you can be ready for opportunities as things begin to look up. You’ve got this!

Staycation to Cabo?

CABO GREENS > CORONA BLUES

Quarantined? Practicing your social distancing? Following a shelter-in-place order? We have a dose of good news for you: our newest batch of films (and our first international volume) titled “Cabo San Lucas” just launched. Revive your senses as vivid blues colliding with fiery oranges create explosive color combinations that would make even Michael Bay swoon. Travel along the Baja California shoreline in this tropical exploration of Mexico’s western peninsula, highlighting some of Cabo’s most iconic landscapes from all new heights.

And that’s not all. Since our last announcement, we’ve added two more volumes: Sierra Nevada and Monument Valley. For a limited time, anyone can preview these films once you create a free Sky Tripping account either in the Settings tab inside the iOS or Android App — or in a web browser at https://skytripping.com/join.

When you use Sky Tripping every day – even for a minute or two – you can significantly lower your stress levels and increase the amount of time you stay focused throughout your day. It may not sound like much, but the compound effects of our novel, nature-based meditation app can add up quickly resulting in noticeable, lasting benefits.

These newest films are available to watch today, and are also available as meditation scenes within our Micro Meditation feature (side note: with our latest app update, you can choose an expanded meditation time range between 1 and 60 minutes).

Alternatively, you can enhance the energy of your next get-together, yoga session, or moment of relaxation by streaming our cinematic films on your Apple TV.

As always, we are hard at work on our next volume, but we couldn’t keep these latest films to ourselves any longer

Stay safe (and sane)!

Stop Drinking So Much Water!

Is water as good for us as we think?

I’ve been told all my life to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. This advice pervades our society, do you know where it comes from? The answer: A paper published in 1921 in which the author measured his urine, sweat, etc. He figured we lose a little more than 3% of our body weight each day, which is about 8 cups. One guy weighing his pee. That’s science.

Many of the more recent papers published encouraging more water consumption have been funded by bottled water businesses like Nestlé (Water: neglected, unappreciated and under researched). That’s right, the people who sell you Crunch bars and chocolate milk mix are concerned about your health!

I can imagine the comments section already: “What did water ever do to you?”, “Were you not loved as a child?”, “Hitler didn’t want people to drink water either! Are you some kind of Nazi?”

Ok, ok, put away your pitch forks and torches. I’m honestly not making an argument against water. Spoiler alert! The guy in 1921 wasn’t far off: Men should probably drink 6-11 cups per day and women drink 4-7 (Water, Other Fluids, and Fatal Coronary Heart Disease).

I’m sometimes baffled by how much disagreement exists on even the simplest issues. That’s the real reason I am writing this. I had stumbled upon a dissonant voice about my health which brought confusion to me.

Last year I had a few minor back injuries—the kind where I’d say “I threw my back out.” After each injury, for a few days, I would ask my wife to get the baby out of the car seat and carry the water bottles in from the garage for few days until things got back to normal. She either felt sorry for me or got sick of me being a weakling and started asking me to plank with her for a minute at night. I took the hint, it’s hard to plank for a minute but before bed she’d ask me, “Do you want to plank with me?”

I’d lie and answer, “Yes.”

I had no idea if it was doing any good. We didn’t plank every night but probably more often than not she’d count to 60 as we faced the ground together. After a few months I noticed I hadn’t thrown my back out. It could be luck but I feel like the planking probably did strenghten me and prevented injury.

Tiny habits can build if you let them and so I found myself on Youtube yesterday learning about the health benefits of planking… Then youtube started recommending videos with titles like “The WORST Ab Exersize Ever (STOP THIS TODAY!)”. It had a thumbnail of a man planking. The video is delivered by a very fit young man telling me not to plank. Is it possible that 99% of everybody is wrong and he is correct? How can you be sure? Do I need to perform primary research and clinical studies to find out? It’s an exhausting rabbit hole to inhabit.

And it’s everywhere. Vegan and paleo diets are almost diametrically opposed, yet we almost can’t avoid testimonials from practitioners of both diets. Are they both independently the one true diet for mankind? Can different things be good for different people? Or is there a single silver bullet? Are the millions of healthy people eating both grains and butter just lying to themselves about how good they feel?

What I’ve found and what helps me rise above this noise and confusion is to regularly cut it out. Cut out everything for a few moments every day.

Listen to your body. Give it a chance to talk to you. Close your eyes and breathe. If your body isn’t talking to you maybe that’s okay. Do some research, try to muddle through somehow. Pay attention to what works for you. How do you feel after that 20oz Coke? You feel fine? Then maybe that’s okay. Did you feel a crash? Maybe that drink isn’t for you.

I’ve found a lot of success with small scale 1-person experimentation. Healthy habits make room for more healthy habits. Don’t worry whether you are doing the one best thing for you right now. If you want to feel healthier pick something small and make a habit of it. Do something small everyday for a week. Pay attention but don’t overreact too early. Respond to the feedback you get from yourself. Keep streaks alive, unplug from the noise and listen.

RELIEVING STRESS, THE NATURAL WAY

Our lives are chock-full of things that can stress us out. Demanding jobs. Performance reviews. Deadlines. Bills. Social media shaming. Polarizing hashtags, news, and political punditry — the list goes on. These daily pressures are about as common as tap water.

We wrote a previous blog post revealing the hidden secret of stress. We show how leveraging stress (rather than fearing it) can have considerable health benefits.

But what if we could do one simple thing every day to tame the stress in our lives? Science reveals that upping our dose of nature can radically reduce mental and physical stress.

Our team has experienced plenty of stress in our own careers despite the fact that we love what we do. The science behind natural stress relief surprised us. But even before we truly understood these studies, we observed that nature played a role in regulating our own stress levels. That, in turn, led us to develop the Sky Tripping app which harnesses the power of nature in reducing stress.

Nature exposure is a powerful weapon against overwhelm. People living near green space report less mental distress than those in urban areas.1 Hospital patients with window views where grass and trees are visible experience faster recoveries.2 Students attending schools with green space perform better than those without.3 Short doses of nature—even images of it—can calm people down and sharpen their performance.4 In studies from Norway to South Korea, findings are the same: nature is the natural stress-buster.

Nature isn’t just pretty. MRI scans show that nature is good for the brain. When volunteers looked at scenes of nature, their anterior cingulate and insula are activated.5 These areas of the brain deal with empathy and altruism. Study after study shows that even pictures of natural environments can work wonders.

Unfortunately the opposite is also true: exposure to urban settings creates stress. The same study showed that urban scenes caused more blood flow in the amygdala.5 The amygdala processes the common “fight or flight” responses such as fear and anxiety.

Humans need exposure to forests, beaches, rivers, trees, and things that grow. We often find ourselves nature-starved without even knowing it.

In 2008 a major shift occurred. For the first time in human history, more humans live in cities than the countryside.6 In the US, over 80% of the population lives in urban areas, and in many other countries the percentage is greater.7 More people than ever find themselves living without easy access to a natural environment.

But as these studies show, the benefits of nature exist even when you’re not physically there. Remember that hospital patients only needed a view of trees and grass. The MRI volunteers were only shown pictures.

Experiencing the outdoors virtually will improve your emotional well-being. It can also reduce your chances of depression, anxiety, heart disease, migraines, and more.8 It has even been found to increase attentional capacity, positive emotions, and ability to reflect on a life problem.9

RELIEVE STRESS
AND GAIN AN
EDGE WITH THE
SKY TRIPPING APP.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

Sky Tripping offers stunning aerial views of some of the most beautiful places on Earth. The films include natural audio tracks which further maximize the stress-reducing benefits. Our users report a powerful relaxation effect and a decline in stress levels as they use our app. Sky Tripping is available in the App Store for iOS and the new Apple TV. Set daily reminders to take a short break while you reap the healing and restorative powers of nature.

Reducing stress is a worthwhile pursuit, but eliminating stressors isn’t enough. Preparing yourself for unforeseen challenges is the key to maintaining mental and physical wellness. Meditation, deep breathing, and walks in nature are all great options for managing stress. Tools like Sky Tripping give you the help you need to develop habits of calmness and focus — no matter what life throws at you.

_____________________________________________________

1. University of Exeter Medical School, 2014, see also: School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 2013

2. Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway, 2015

3. PNAS 2015

4. Matilda van den Bosch, Psychology & Behavior 118, May 2013

5. Korean Journal of Radiology, 2010

6. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0112/p25s02-wogi.html

7. US Census Bureau

8. Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway, 2015

9. Oberlin College, 2009

BECOME A BEAST WHEN IT COMES TO MENTAL AWARENESS

Plenty of people put an emphasis on being “smart”. The ability to learn and retain useful information is an important lifelong skill. It’s easy to envy someone else for their wealth, beauty, or proportional physique. But do you ever find yourself feeling jealous of someone’s seemingly effortless ability to learn new things? Similarly, have you ever wished you had the same strong memory you had in your youth?

Your mind — both the conscious and the subconscious — is the workhorse that is responsible for governing every action you take, so the desire to keep it strong and active is natural. The good news is that we can do a few incredibly easy things every day to ensure that our minds are working at peak performance.

FOOD AFFECTS MENTAL SHARPNESS

Your diet may not be the first thing you think of when looking for major players in your cognitive function, but your gut is often referred to as your “second brain”. In fact, the majority of your body’s serotonin — the chemical which plays a vital role in brain functions such as emotional wellness, sleep, and even sex-drive — is concentrated in the gut, with over 90% being produced and used there.

Given that your gut and brain are interconnected and dependant on each other in this and many other surprising ways, that old saying “you are what you eat” may have more science behind it than we realize. If we want optimal results, we need to make sure we are feeding our bodies things that will help, rather than hurt, our cognitive function.

Other than eating a balanced diet there are some vitamins that have been found to be helpful in keeping your mind sharp. Numerous foods have proven benefits on mind and body alike. Omega 3s and Vitamin D have been shown to aid in memory and learning, probiotics assist with gut health and improved immunity, and Vitamin B12 protects against brain atrophy in old age.

MOVEMENT IMPROVES MEMORY

A good workout, a brisk walk, or a short jog has the ability to increase blood flow to your brain – more specifically the hippocampus – which is responsible for memory. There are studies showing that people who did more aerobic exercise had less tissue density loss than those who did not exercise regularly. And yet other studies show that exercise helps you to better handle stress, make clear decisions, and improves your ability to learn.

If exercise is the yin of body/brain wellness, meditation is the yang. Mental focus and clear thinking can wane when you are stressed out. There’s no question that meditation is a great tool to de-stress and improve your overall mood, but studies show that meditation actually activates parts of your brain important for memory and learning.  It even raises IQ scores over time. Getting physical doesn’t just mean exercising your brains out (no pun intended). Spending your time on the go is good for your health, but also make sure to reserve time for the physical relief that only meditation brings.

GET MENTAL

It is easy to get into a less-than-optimal routine. Maybe you’re feeling overdue for a veg session, or perhaps you legitimately don’t have time to take on something new. Even though your brain is an organ, treating it like a muscle brings similar benefits as physical exercise provides your body.

SEE STUNNING
VIEWS OF EARTH
FROM THE COMFORT
OF YOUR COUCH.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

Your brain needs to be challenged and stimulated every day to keep it sharp. There are many recommended things that we can do like listening to music, reading, or even spending a few minutes on fun (but mentally challenging) activities such as crossword puzzles.

You can make other changes like watching a documentary instead of scrolling social media or watching the latest episode of whichever reality tv show is popular at the moment. Even going for a walk in a new area or driving a different way to work will light up new pathways in your brain. Take the time to notice the things around you and then try to remember them later in the day, memorize a poem, or commit a new phone number you need to memory instead of just letting your smartphone do it for you.

MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

Your brain function isn’t set in stone. No matter what stage of life you’re in, you can do some simple things to boost your brain function. Keeping your stress levels down, eating right, and exercising your mind and body are important tools to help you achieve greater cognitive function.

HOW TO MAKE STRESS YOUR FRIEND

It’s common knowledge that stress kills. As WebMD states, “Studies have found many health problems related to stress. Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk [from] conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.” That’s a pretty diverse list. And it’s far from exhaustive.

We have all felt the negative effects of stress, and know that we should be actively working to reduce the amount of stress in our daily lives. After all, stress is a killer. That’s a scientifically known fact.

But there’s only one problem: it isn’t true.

I’ll show you why stress isn’t the problem, why stress is valuable, and how rethinking your views on stress will actually help you live longer.

“For years I’ve been telling people, stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, I’ve turned stress into the enemy. But I have changed my mind about stress, and today, I want to change yours.” – Kelly McGonigal

WHY STRESS ISN’T THE PROBLEM

What if I told you the most dangerous part about stress is not the stress itself, but rather the fear that stress is dangerous.

But how can that be when it’s widely accepted – even in medical and scientific circles – that stress is a killer?

In the insightful TED Talk “How to make stress your friend”, esteemed health psychologist and author Kelly McGonigal reveals a flaw in the way we think about stress. According to her, stress itself has little (if any) ill effect on our health. Instead, she points out that it is actually the belief that stress is bad which is responsible for the negative impacts commonly associated with stress. Let that sink in for a minute: stressing over stress is what harms you, not the actual stress itself.

In her video, Kelly refers to a study which tracked 30,000 adults in the United States over the course of eight years in which the researchers asked participants, “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”, followed by , “Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?” Then they waited. Relying on death records over the next eight years, these researchers discovered something disturbing: those who had experienced high levels of stress in the previous year saw a 43% increase in their risk of death. But that only held true for those who believed that their stress was unhealthy.

In contrast, it did not seem to have any negative effect on those who didn’t believe stress was harmful for their health. Even more surprising, those participants had the lowest risk of death compared to anyone in the study, including those who felt they had little or no significant sources of stress in their lives.

“Now the researchers estimated that over the eight years they were tracking deaths, 182,000 Americans died prematurely, not from stress, but from the belief that stress is bad for you. That is over 20,000 deaths a year. Now, if that estimate is correct, that would make believing stress is bad for you the 15th largest cause of death in the United States last year, killing more people than skin cancer, HIV/AIDS and homicide.”

We’ve all heard of folks who are willing to die for their beliefs, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. We believe we’re going to suffer crippling, even deadly effects because we’re overwhelmed. And in a classic case of mind over matter, we will that reality into existence with nothing more than our faulty beliefs.

Clearly there’s more to the story here than psychologists, doctors, and scientists have been saying for decades. We each have experiences which challenge us, but this new research shows that the way we choose to react to these experiences can have as big of an impact (if not bigger) than the actual stress that accompanies them.

STRESS IS YOUR BODY’S WAY OF PREPARING FOR A CHALLENGE

“Their heart was still pounding, but this is a much healthier cardiovascular profile. It actually looks a lot like what happens in moments of joy—and courage.”

In a study at Harvard University, researchers put a group of people through a ‘stress test’. But before the test they were given different information about what stress was. They were actually taught to rethink the feelings associated with stress; “That pounding heart is preparing you for action. If you’re breathing faster, it’s no problem. It’s getting more oxygen to your brain.”

Not surprisingly these people were less stressed and anxious during the test. But what was fascinating is that these people did have a notable response, one that closely mimicked how we respond to joy and courage.

I find that appealing. Life can get hard and stress has a way of adding rocks to your already full backpack and weighing you down. The idea that I could exchange that sense of burden with feelings of courage and joy is liberating.

UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF & EMPATHY FOR OTHERS WILL HELP YOU LIVE LONGER

Kelly rounds off her message by addressing a little-known but significant positive effect stress has on us: stress makes us social. Citing another study where respondent’s stressful life experiences were measured, the authors found that for each difficulty such as financial troubles or a family crisis, their risk of death was increased by 30 percent. Of course, in her classic style, Kelly goes on to point out the crucial caveat. As she puts it, “People who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying. Zero. Caring created resilience.”

When your realization that empathic action protects you from the potential harms of stress is coupled with the knowledge that the way we feel about stress is more dangerous than the stress itself, you have a pretty powerful one-two punch against all sorts of nasty health-related issues.

Your informed outlook is your best protection against the dangers that have long been mis-attributed to stress. Not pills. Not psychotherapy. Not lamenting the human condition.

Tell me that isn’t empowering.

RELIEVE STRESS
AND ENJOY LIFE
TO THE SIGHTS &
SOUNDS OF NATURE.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

In short, my best response to stress is simply acknowledging that it is there, taking a moment to understand why I’m feeling it, and embracing the courage my mind and body are enabling me to take with me into the challenge I’m facing.

Recognizing that stress is ok – even helpful – as it prepares my body and mind to face whatever challenges crop up will bring more than a sense of relief – it will bring me a longer, healthier life.

And finally, embracing the impulse to reach out to others when I need help will benefit both them and myself.  Furthermore, it will expand my own capacity to deal with my problems by helping me develop skills I don’t currently have. In short, stress is my friend.

WHO IS THIS ARTICLE FOR?

If you are a Buddhist monk living atop a quiet peak in Tibet, you may not need this news. But if you (or others like you and I) are powering through the daily grind while yearning for a little reprieve from the burden of it all, then this no doubt will help them reshape their outlook on those moments when things get chaotic.  Share this post with them, and be sure to watch the full talk from Kelly (below)!

Happy stressing!

DO THIS 1 THING TO IMPROVE YOUR MIND AND BODY TODAY

At one time or another we’ve all found ourselves disgruntled as we power through our monotonous workout routine. Like a caged rodent running eternally towards our great escape, we’re stuck on the dreaded treadmill wishing that we could get the benefits of exercise by doing something that actually made us happy (like eating chocolate).

I can’t deny that after it’s over I do feel better; but I relate the high more to the way a prisoner feels after being released than to the feelings brought about by exercise-induced endorphins.

For those of you that can empathize, I have good news and I have bad news:

The bad news is that chocolate isn’t going to tone and strengthen your body, or help you shed unwanted pounds.

The good news is that chocolate does boost your endorphins! Takeaway of the day: you can get the endorphins without the treadmill!!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
— Charles M. Schulz

But all joking aside, there are actually many benefits that come from eating chocolate.

Chocolate has been used in many parts of the world for centuries. The earliest recorded consumption of chocolate is dated between 1400-1500 BC. At that time, chocolate was only available for the elite. As early as 1570, cacao was being used for medicinal reasons.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

There are now studies showing that eating a small bar of dark chocolate a day does have health benefits. Because chocolate actually comes from the cacao tree, it has many of the benefits of dark vegetables, including:

  • Flavonoids – these act like antioxidants and help with anti-aging and protect against free radicals that lead to heart disease.
  • Lowering LDL cholesterol by up to 10%
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Suppressing coughs — yep next time you have a cough that won’t go away, consider skipping the cough medicine and instead reaching for a piece of dark chocolate. Several studies that show that theobromine (the key chemical in cacao/chocolate) works better than codeine at quelling coughs. A number of us here at Sky Tripping have tried it in our own homes, and with great happiness we can confirm that it works; and best of all no one needs to be persuaded into eating it. I’ve found 1-1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (35% cacao or higher) 15-30 minutes before bed puts my cough right to sleep.  For my kids, I typically serve them about half that much (3/4 ounce or so).

NIBBLE ON SOME
DARK CHOCOLATE
WHILE RELAXING TO
VIDEOS OF NATURE.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

The emotional benefits may seem obvious; it makes you feel good, what else matters? But chocolate isn’t merely the most craved confection — there are actually a few “sciency” reasons why it makes you feel better too:

  • Chocolate stimulates endorphins, the same hormone that blocks pain and makes you feel happy
  • It has serotonin, the main chemical found deficient when you are depressed

Chocolate is high in fat and calories, so binge eating it still isn’t really recommended. But there are real benefits to eating a small amount on a regular basis. Total body wellness comes from feeling good on the inside and outside. It’s necessary to allow yourself to do things that help you feel happy and recharged on the inside. Whether that means going for a quiet walk, getting out with friends, or eating chocolate and watching a movie, taking care of your mental health is a crucial component for overall wellness.

MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

Sometimes life is stressful and we don’t have the physical or emotional energy to do a gym work out. On those days I suggest eating some dark chocolate. And if you feel up to it, throw in a few minutes of light yoga. Your heart will love you for it.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR BODY EVERY DAY

I mostly stick to a healthy lifestyle — healthy food, moderate exercise, and plenty of recreation to keep life fun. But there are still times when I just don’t feel like I am running at top performance. During those times I like to take a moment to think about what has changed. Am I not sleeping enough? Skipping my meditation? Is there an emotional challenge I’m trying not to acknowledge? Have I been working too hard? There are many reasons why I might be feeling less than optimal, but I think it’s the simplest fix that surprises me most often: H2O.

A number of studies have been conducted which point to surprising benefits of staying hydrated, such as improved mental sharpness, increased energy, and an overall reduction in caloric intake; but there is still some degree of variance in our understanding of exactly how much water is ideal. There are claims that we should drink anywhere from 8 glasses of water to a gallon of water per day. While there isn’t necessarily a magic number that fits everyone, my own observations show that most people have room for more water in their day.

I personally need more than 8 glasses and less than a gallon of water to feel my best. My doctor has indicated that the best way to ensure that I replenish what is lost daily through respiration, perspiration, and waste is to drink half my bodyweight in ounces of water each day. So if I weigh 120 pounds, I need to drink at least 60 ounces of water a day, and more if I am in the sun, working, or sweating at an increased rate.

We may not have a concrete answer about how many ounces we need each day, But we do know the reasons we need more water and the benefits of staying hydrated.

WE NEED WATER TO LIVE

Our body is made up of 60% water. The water in our bodies directly affects our ability to produce saliva and urine; it aids in circulation, digestion, and transporting nutrients; and it plays a crucial role in helping our bodies maintain an optimal temperature.

When dehydration sets in (even on a very minor level), our entire system begins to be affected.

This may exhibit through feelings of sluggishness and exhaustion, headaches, dizziness, trouble digesting foods properly, and more. These signs are our body’s early way of simply telling us that we need more water.

MUSCLES NEED WATER FOR ENERGY

When we sweat, our body loses electrolytes including chloride sodium and potassium. Our bodies depend on these minerals for communication. When they drop below normal levels we will experience muscle fatigue and even muscle cramping.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking around 17 ounces of water a couple of hours before we exercise, continuing to drink fluid while exercising to replenish what is lost through perspiration.

WE NEED WATER TO FLUSH OUT TOXINS

Our bodies comes into contact with toxins via the things we touch, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. These toxins are stored in our kidneys and lymphatic system. Our bodily fluids help to transport waste products out of our cells and ensure they are properly and safely excreted. Our bodies can get rid of toxins through our sweat or urine but it is vital that we have enough water to flush them out. It’s also important that our body has enough water to spare or it will redirect the water set aside for sweat and urine in taking care of other essential body systems, leaving the toxins trapped in our body.

SEE STUNNING
VIEWS OF EARTH
FROM THE COMFORT
OF YOUR COUCH.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

PERSONAL TAKEAWAY

I feel the best when I drink half my bodyweight in ounces of water. Sometimes water can be boring and I want something with more taste. Rather than automatically reaching for a sugary soda, I often add a little lemon juice or cucumber to my water. This always helps me enjoy what I’m drinking, resulting in my drinking more water. Remember to add something that will make you want to reach for your glass!

Last but not least, keep your water with you. This is especially important in the summer when the heat keeps you sweating constantly throughout the day.

P.S. If you’re one of those people who can’t drink their water after it gets warm my family loves their Hydro flask bottles. They keep ice in your water all day even when it’s blistering hot. You will be surprised how much more you drink if you have it on hand all of the time and it is something you look forward to drinking.