Managing Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19

Credit: Shutterstock

It’s human to feel stress, especially when our day-to-day lives don’t look or feel the same as they used to. Sometimes stress can lead us to respond in unhelpful ways, like turning to food or alcohol for comfort.

And with Covid-19, stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand. So how do we manage it all? For starters, everyone needs to look after one’s own basic needs to stay mentally healthy in a stressful time.

While the anxiety many people are feeling about Covid-19 can be magnified in those who are most vulnerable to it (adults over 60 and those with underlying conditions) we are all feeling the impact that policies like shelter-in-place are having on our psyche.

On this episode of the podcast, I speak with Licensed Professional Counselor, author, and life coach Katherine Jansen-Byrkit. Katherine received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Washington in 1992 and spend over a decade in public health managing violence prevention and teen health programs.

Katherine published her first book, River to Ocean: Living in the Flow of Wakefulness last year. It reflects the human voyage of finding your way to an awakened self. Press play on the media player to listen to the conversation.

Date night included hard shell crabs and Manhattans.

Tips for Self-Care

  1. Eat healthy foods – make sure that you have food options that don’t weigh you down or cause you to gain weight during a period of inactivity.
  2. Stay physically active – build a daily exercise routine. You don’t need a well equipped home gym. Find some routines on the internet.
  3. Get regular sleep. Keep to your regular sleep routine and avoid over sleeping or not getting enough sleep.
  4. Create a sense of structure and routine in daily life while self-quarantining.
  5. Connect socially with friends and family while maintaining physical distance. Create special moments (like date night) to break up the monotony. Or cocktails with friends via video conferencing.

For more information on Katherine and her work, visit Innergy Counseling.

Corona-Conscious Eating

Sea Bass, salad, and soup

You’ve been ordered to shelter in place.  But for how long?  Days?  Weeks?  Months? 

So you’ve followed the herd, bum-rushed the grocery story, gobbled up all the toilet paper, food and snacks that you could get your hands on in preparation for the long haul.  My guess is, you didn’t have time to thoughtfully plan out your meals, right?  Not that the other shoppers in the store left you many options.

The memes and jokes all over social media show American’s concerns with being sedentary for the immediate future, over-eating and mindless munching to help pass the time of day.  So we’re going to offer some tips on how to survive the COVID19 shelter in place dilemma and come out on the other side healthy, happy, and ready to resume your normal life when things finally get back to normal.

On this episode, it’s all about making food choices that are good for you.

My guest today is Sophie Egan,  the Director of Health and Sustainability Leadership for the Strategic Initiatives Group at the Culinary Institute of America…  And author of the book How to be a Conscious Eater: Making Food Choices That Are Good for You, Others, and the Planet.

We had a great conversation on making healthy and conscious choices for building a proper pantry, choosing good processed foods and healthy proteins. We also talk about how our food choices impact the planet and other people around the globe. Take a listen to the conversation by hitting the “play” button on the audio player.

How To Be A Conscious Eater is a great resource for living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.  It cuts through the noise and conflicting information and offers an easy to remember, holistic guide for making smart decisions about food consumption.    No diets, no fads, or hard-fast rules.  Just a straightforward way of eating for you, and good for others and the planet. 

As Sophie reminds us in How To Be A Conscious Eater, keep your eyes on the prize: your general health.  Rather than fixating on specific nutrients or trying out strict diets over the short term, the best bet for a lifetime of healthy eating is to enjoy the flavorful and diverse options included in a dietary pattern with lots of evidence behind its long-term health benefits, such as flexitarian eating.  Remember as a rule of thumb, most of the healthiest foods don’t have food labels.  Keeps this in mind during your next run on the grocery store to stock up on COVID19 survival supplies.

To view Sophie Egan’s town hall presentation, see the YouTube video here.

Weird Love

Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1489155659

Ever been in a relationship that hit a dry patch? Perhaps you are in one now. One that feels routine and mundane. No matter how much you love your partner or how wonderful you think your relationship is, things can often get a little boring. Healthy, happy relationships exist when partners work to bring out the best in each other. Relationships that are based on mutual respect and admiration. And let’s not forget about fun.

On today’s show, guest Boaz Frankel says sometimes you just have to get a little weird…together. The filmmaker, writer, and talk show host, along with his wife Brooke Barker, author of New York Times bestseller Sad Animal Facts, talks about embracing the eccentricities and weirdness of their personalities and relationship in their co-authored book Let’s Be Weird Together.

Let’s Be Weird Together is a fun book with quirky illustrations. It’s a rare relationship book that captures the rituals and micro universes that couples create together, in a sweet, fun package filled with humor and endearing quirkiness. They discovered that not only do they bring out the best in each other, they also bring out the weirdness too. Click the play button on the player to hear more about Let’s Get Weird Together and my conversation with Boaz Frankel. Be sure to follow the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your audio content.

Overcoming Trauma

“P1088270.00_01_28_15.Still002” by SIM East Africa is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

When we think of trauma, we tend to contextualize it with major traumatic events like the death of a loved one or a violent event. But traumatic events can happen to us on a daily basis and we often fail to recognize when it is impacting us.

If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that has left you feeling helpless and emotionally out of control, you may have been traumatized. Today’s show will offer ways to identify when we are experiencing trauma and how to effectively combat it. My guest, Franchesca Clemente, is a psychotherapist that shares how to identify when your body is reacting to trauma, and she offers some practical advice on how to work your way through it.

Some of the advice for dealing with stress and trauma discussed in this episode include:

  1. Breathing – breathing excercises can help calm yourself down by changing your focus and reducing your body’s physical reaction to stress.
  2. Exercise – avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Partake in activities that keep your mind occupied like exercise. Take a walk or a run, read a book, or play with your kids.
  3. Practice self-care. Learn to self-sooth.

Music in this episode is “Sullen Faced” by Ketsa under creative commons non-commercial license.

Do These Things to Advance Your Career

Professional development, regardless of your position, should be the driving force behind your career aspirations. But in order to advance your career, you need to have a plan. Or you can leave it up to chance. But having a plan is more the more likely path to success.

This episode of the podcast provides some concrete tips on what you should focus on in a good career development plan. I am joined by veteran, award-winning human resource professional, Angela Lee. She is Vice President of Talent Development for a publicly traded mid-cap global manufacturing company. If the last name sounds familiar, she also happens to be my wife. She is one of the brightest people that I know.

In the show, Angela shares the following tips:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Define what success looks like to you
  3. Hoard skills and capabilities
  4. Seek mentors and sponsors
  5. Seek feedback
  6. Create networks and build social capital
  7. Focus on results
  8. Accept lateral moves if they help build skills and capabilities
  9. Know when it’s time to move on

It’s a great conversation and I hope you’ll get something out of it. If you’ve built a successful career and would like to share some tips with others, feel free to leave some comments. I thank you in advance.

Our theme music is Pumpkin Spice by Audiobinger under Creative Commons Attribution non-commercial license.

Be sure to follow the show on Spotify or subscribe for free with Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Search for Enlightenment

In 1968, after several platinum and gold albums, members of the iconic rock group the Beatles found themselves spiritually exhausted. They enjoyed the fame and the riches that came with it but often wondered…”what’s it all for?”

The group sought answers through the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the leader of the Transcendental Meditation movement. They visited the Maharishi’s ashram in India in 1968. The experience had a profound impact on their music. I was super curious about what the search for enlightenment was like, not only for the Beatles, but for tens of thousands of people around the world.

To help me understand the experience, I turn to Susan Shumsky, author of Maharishi and Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles Guru. Susan was under the tutelage of the Maharishi for 22 years and served on his personal staff for 6. She talks to us about the enlightenment movement and how Transcendentalism is manifested in the Beatles music.

Man Fast

Natasha Scripture – credit Maggie Marguerite Studio

Overcome by emotions at the loss of her father, pressures from a demanding job, and conflicted emotions over failed relationships, author and humanitarian worker Natasha Scripture embarked on a journey to answer the question at the center of her anxiety…What is my purpose? The answer is detailed in her new memoir, Man Fast.

Books, movies, and TV shows often sell the fantasy of finding “Mr Right”. That can be in direct conflict with finding yourself and discovering your purpose in life. Man Fast is a book about a personal journey to self-discovery and self-love. In a culture that prizes finding the right man, Natasha Scripture shares her personal story that demonstrates a better understanding of self and the world around us. It’s a story of her awakening…the art of paying attention…and recognizing the true source of love. And it all started with a fast from the dating game.

“I needed to design a life that was empowering and inspiring and authentic for me and not settle for a partner that didn’t feel right.”

Push play and enjoy the conversation.

Music in this episode is Lonely Satellite by Bio Unit under Creative Commons license.

Can Money Buy Happiness?

It is a heavily researched question and the consensus is…yes, it can.  One of the key benefits that money provides is safety and security.  Having enough money eliminates anxiety when shopping or making large purchases.  Money also affords you memorable life experiences that bring joy and happiness, allows you to help loved ones, and give back to your community.

But just how much money do you need to be happy?  To answer that question, we narrowed the focus of this conversation down to how much money and what kind of experiences do the happiest people in retirement have in common.

Helping me explore this question is Wes Moss, author of the book You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think: The 5 Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees.  Wes is also Chief Investment Strategist at Capital Investment Advisors and host of Money Matters, an investment and personal finance radio show.  The research conducted for his book quantifies the financial habits of happy people versus unhappy people.

Whether you call it happiness or peace of mind, money CAN provide a freedom that allows you to truly enjoy your life in retirement and, according to Wes’ research, you might not need as much as everyone is telling you that you need.  Remember, the happiest retirees

  • Have a median of $500,000 in liquid net assets (up to $850,000)
  • Once you get above that amount, you’ll experience “diminishing marginal happiness”
  • The happiest retirees average 3.5 core pursuits and have an average of 2.5 children. (Listen to find out exactly what that means)
  • And the happiest retirees live in the middle when it comes to shopping and dining out.  Not too cheap and not too expensive.

You’ll find the common traits among the happiest retirees to be very enlightening. I hope you’ll listen to discover more.

There Are No Happy Endings

Nora McInerny has become a reluctant expert in difficult conversations by bringing empathy and wit to difficult subjects.  She is host of the American Public Media podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking and founder of the on-line support group the Hot Young Widows Club.  I recently spoke with her about her new memoir No Happy Endings where she describes her exploration of the reality of being changed by loss without being completely defined by it.

Within the span of a few months, Nora lost her husband to brain cancer, miscarried her second child, and saw the passing of her father.  Not long after those tragic events, she found love again in Matthew, her new husband. Through it all, she describes the awkwardness of being a widow, the difficulties of becoming a single mom, and the guilt of finding love again.

With great humor and sensitivity, Nora reminds us that there will be no happy endings in life, but there will be new beginnings.

For more information on Nora, visit her site here.

Music in this episode is Love Me Forever by Audiobinger under Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution License.

Finding Happiness From Rock Bottom

David J Mauro climbs Mt Everest

Researchers find that achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort, and that much of happiness is under our personal control.  Indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, achieving goals and maintaining close social bonds can all increase life satisfaction.

But what if your life has spun out of control?  When all seems lost, can you find your way to happiness from rock bottom?  Our next guest says, “yes”.  After a failed marriage was closely followed by the death of his only brother, David Mauro, who suffered from depression, found himself at rock bottom.  That is until he decided to climb a mountain.  David is the author of The Altitude Journals: A Seven-Year Journey From the Lowest Point in My Life to the Highest Point on Earth.  He tells us how he found his way back to happiness after his journey to rock bottom took him to the top of Mt Everest.

We can all relate to having low points. Some lower than others. What separates us is how we climb our way back to normal. Back to happier times.

In this conversation, David Mauro describes how his passion for mountain climbing forced discipline and focus in his life when he lacked it most. He explains how “rock bottom” can be the ultimate “gift.” And he tells us how conquering the challenges of mountain climbing allowed him to finally deal with his problems.

It’s a great conversation and there are good lessons to be learned. I hope you’ll give it a listen.

Do you have a “rock bottom” to happiness story? Feel free to share it here if you’re comfortable doing so.

For more information on David and his adventures, visit his website here.

Music in this episode is Maree’ by Kai Engel under creative commons attribution license.