I had an idea in mind for this week’s post—something funny and a little frivolous. But right now, the people around me are so stressed out by events in all our lives. So many of us seem to be stumbling to find the focus and level of enthusiasm they need to put their best foot forward.
While this has been going on, I’ve observed what some media companies are doing to perpetuate an alternative universe of truths about the election, and how others are trying to cleanse themselves of the Big Lie, as it’s now known. Manipulating public perception is something that I fantasize about in a more futuristic realm within THE JUICE, my novel that drops on Feb. 9. I have some stress questions related to the launch: Am I doing everything that I can to make the book a success? Will it be a success? (My book giveaway is one way I’m marketing it. I’ll explain how you can get a free copy at the end of this post.)
Given all this, the funny, frivolous post idea went on the back burner. I’ll get around to it. But right now, I’m sharing some of my top ways of managing stress, and techniques for finding the best possible version of myself, in hopes it might help you. My goals as a creative type may be entirely different than your own, but no matter what path in life you’ve chosen to walk, the following might give you some renewed energy and sense of direction.
With safe places to burn calories reduced (Gym? What’s a gym?) and the need to stay semi-isolated, I’ve turned to Leslie Sansone’s many free YouTube videos. Sansone has built a substantial business with her Walk at Home system of staying fit, and her website will tell you more.
You don’t have to be young and in top shape to do these exercises. You don’t even need a lot of space. I know men who use her videos as well as women. There are four easy moves that Sansone elaborates upon with a merry band of exercisers, and they work on every muscle in the body.
Sansone’s videos help me relieve the guilt of an occasional bowl of ice cream and get me to stretch out after a day of sitting in front of a laptop—which seems to be attached to me like an umbilical cord. The exercises also get my endorphins going, which reduces anxiety.
The sessions involve a variety of different time options. Only have 12 minutes? That’s okay. Or if you can go 20, 30 or 45, she’s got you covered. I’m a big fan of three in particular: the 30-Minute Boosted Fitness Walk, the Fast Walking in 30 Minutes video and the 12 Minute Walk at Fat-Burning Pace.
One of my favorite podcasts is Meditative Story. People from all walks of life talk about their journeys—working toward their highest goals, discovering insights into what makes their lives meaningful.
The stories are interspersed with guided breathing exercises, which makes the stories resonate even more deeply and calms my mind in the process. In my most recent listen, the retired championship swimmer Diana Nyad related an anecdote about a short conversation she once had with Christopher Reeve that caused her to change her life. (That’s Nyad, pictured left.)
She talked with Reeve sometime after he was paralyzed from the neck down, and he jolted her into the realization that her career as a sports announcer—which involved talking about the extraordinary accomplishments of other athletes—wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t living her “one wild precious life” as completely as she could.
That led her to take on the “Mt. Everest” for swimmers, the crossing between Havana and Key West—which sounded pretty harrowing as she described it. Consider that it involved 111 miles; she did it without using a shark cage; and she was 64 years old at the time.
That’s just one example of the many inspiring recordings offered by Meditative Story. Its producers have now launched another podcast, called Spark and Fire, which spotlights the stories of creative artists. I’m really looking forward to sampling it.
While the Sansone videos and Meditative Story podcast are free options, I also rely on a couple of subscription app services. One of them is Calm, which has a free 30-day trial for newcomers.
Not everything in the huge Calm archive speaks to me. But there are some that I really treasure. Among them is a series of talks by LeBron James, who reveals how he prepares himself mentally for his extraordinary performances on the basketball court. Now, bear in mind that when God made me, he left out the gene for any kind of competitive sports. But James’ techniques are applicable to anyone who’s trying to perform at their very highest level.
More typically, I use Calm for guided meditations that help me relax and fall asleep, pushing all my mind chatter away. And there’s a deep bank of bedtime tales with some pretty famous narrators mixed in. Falling asleep with Matthew McConaughey’s velvety voice in your ear ain’t half bad. (Yep, that’s him at left.) But many times, I prefer narrators who aren’t as well-known but are deeply talented storytellers. They take me on journeys to places I’d love to visit.
The app Insight Timer is similar to Calm, although you can sample its vast library for free, if you choose to do so. I ended up using it so often that it seemed like a good idea to support the app and its many guide instructors by paying the fairly low subscription fee.
Like Calm, there are some options with some pretty famous people, like Russel Brand, Goldie Hawn and Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat Pray Love”). Right now, my favorite instructor on the app is Liza Colpa, pictured at left. I find that if I do one of her meditations for focus and clarity at the beginning of the day, I can dig deeper into my work and make the results so much more rewarding.
I’m also a fan of Melissa Ambrosini, Seku Gathers, Clare Connolly and Sah D’Simone. There are also some great meditations to help people fall asleep. I’m just beginning to discover them.
You may have entirely different resources to manage your anxiety. And I’d love to learn about them. Give me some suggestions on social media!
Also, there’s still a week left to enter my e-book giveaway for THE JUICE. Who knows? Maybe my imaginings will distract you from your stress points as well. You can enter by posting on my giveaway social media posts on Facebook (@authorjanetstilson), Twitter (@janetstilson) or Instagram (@janetstilson).