Archives for category: Stress Reduction

I posed a question on my Facebook page the other day. I was thinking out loud (which usually gets me in trouble) about all the people on Facebook and Twitter throwing BP under the bus over this explosion and subsequent oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I only have a small bit of understanding – certainly not enough to make any true comment on the situation. I’m a musician and a writer, not an expert on oil. But I’ll bet that most of the people who are throwing BP under the bus have about the same amount of understanding as I do.

Getting to the point, the underlying thought I came up with all the Facebooking and Twittering was this:

How many of these people drive their cars… A LOT?

I had an idea of something we all could do now about the demand in the U. S. for cheap gasoline, and that was to drop one day per week of driving. I received some challenging comments about driving 6-days a week and the BP situation, so the answer in that area is up in the air, even in my opinion. But I started to take the thought further, on an emotional and stress reducing level.

Can you imagine how much stress would leave your body and mind if you took 24-hours to not drive?

I get such a kick in so many ways out of riding my bicycle to work. I was thinking over my plans and being bummed that I might not be able to this week. But you don’t have to ride a bike to not drive.

I’ll be moving to St. Louis next year and while browsing areas to live, being on the Metrolink line is very important in where my family will choose our next home. You can see so much of an area by train, whether it’s long distance or in town.

You could also choose a day off to not drive and all, and God forbid, you could stay at home and enjoy whatever it is you have there. We always seem to forget that we spend more time at work than at home, yet they say “Home is where the heart is.” The next time you take a day off, try actually taking a day off – from everything.

All this is coming down to is that such a simple idea can turn into yet another source of enjoyment out of life. It tells me that by taking simple steps such as leaving the car in the drive way for one day per week, it is truly possible to enjoy life all the time. I really believe that you can enjoy every moment of life, or I wouldn’t have started this blog. Don’t be over-radical in your life, just drive a little less, and find out what good things can enter into your day.

Always Enjoy Life

Zach Ellerbrook

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I downloaded a bunch of ebooks over the past few weeks. I had been forgetting that there has been some incredible material in the ebook format for some time now, and decided I would just download a whole bunch and start reading. My ebook collection is pretty overwhelming, but Jeff at SleepWarrior got my attention with his 40 Sleep Hacks: The Geeks Guide to Optimizing Sleep.

I’ve managed to cut my nighttime sleep to 6-hours a night, so I can wake up early enough to start the morning in quiet (parents of small children can understand) and to have the time to ride my bike to work. Of course, I would come home exhausted and was terribly ineffective in the afternoon and evening – when I am supposed to be studying for grad school.

The most beneficial chapter from 40 Sleep Hacks was about taking naps. It lead me to realize that I had two major misconceptions on napping that I’m sure some of you might have too. The first one is that there’s some stigma with most of society that believe adult napping is for lazy people. Stop sleeping on the job! Get more sleep at night! The fact is, napping can actually increase productivity, improve stamina, reduce stress, and produce a host of other benefits according to SleepWarrior.

The second misconception I had about napping is that a nap doesn’t have to be an hour long, or even five minutes. The light bulb for me was that you can set your alarm like you would going to bed at night! I know it sounds like a silly realization, but this is why reading is so important. I can just go about my life without realizing little facts that are right in front of my face. This is also a testament to finding some ebooks and reading plenty of them.

20-minutes is the perfect length to take a nap. I actually set my alarm for 30-minutes so I can guarantee 20-minutes of sleep without being late to my next committment. Another great part about the afternoon nap is that I have an excuse to follow it with a mini morning routine which includes the best beverage on earth – coffee. It’s amazing on how relaxed I am after my nap, and drink a relaxing cup of espresso, then just knock out any work I have to do, without the craziness of trying to cram my work into the afternoon. Of course, I also have more energy to study and write the million papers I have to write in the evening, and still be in bed to read by 10pm, asleep by 11, and up at 5am. It truly, truly works this way.

Of course, 40 Sleep Hacks isn’t all about naps. There are also great chapters on sleep such as having a nighttime sleep schedule, diet, and dreaming. I just wanted to tell the world that it’s okay to take a nap, and napping can truly improve your quality of life in many ways. Although the siesta-practicing cultures don’t need to hear this. They have it pretty well figured out.

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on to someone you think can benefit from its contents. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Laugh at yourself.

I used to take myself so seriously when I was younger. I got so upset over every glass of spilled milk that I wound up not having as fun of a childhood as I could have. When I started laughing at half the stuff I was serious about, I became a much happier person. I started to understand that ‘enjoy’ was an action word.

Once I learned to laugh at my own mistakes, I was able to take others’ in stride. I don’t alienate my co-workers like I used to. I’m a better father. And I’m certainly a better husband when I don’t take our relationship so seriously. It’s true. There’s no danger of us ever splitting apart, so why focus on every little detail making our marriage “right”?

Of course, I would never have had these positive relationships if I hadn’t learned to laugh at myself. The next time you trip over your own two feet, make a joke about it, or turn it into some silly dance as you regain your footing. Make fun of yourself if you spill the coffee in the morning (I like to joke that it might taste better off the counter or floor). You will make mistakes in your life – there’s no sense dwelling on them.

There’s no use crying over spilled milk, so you might as well laugh at it.

A side note: In the past couple days, I’ve had more views on my blog than I ever had, but only one comment. While I am very grateful that so many have read what I have to say, I know that I have plenty of room to improve. You can help me give you a better reading experience if you leave me just a little feedback, so I know what to keep doing and what I can keep out. Id have hope that I’ve proved in this post that I have thick skin, and I am more than willing to hear what you have to say, of course as long as it is constructive and can help me serve you better. Thank you so much.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on to someone you think can benefit from its contents. You can also follow me on Twitter.

It’s “lights out time” for the kids right now.

They’re giggling up a storm when they should be in bed.

Do I make them go to bed, lovingly making sure they get a good night’s sleep so they’re not cranky the next day?

I don’t freakin’ think so. Let them have some fun together.

I’ve been reading a lot of simplicity/minimalism blogs, such as Zen Habits, Becoming Minimalist, and I was just reading a great post about frugal hygiene from Rowdy Kittens.

Want some minimalism/simplicity advice? Listen to kids giggle (LOUDLY) past their bedtime. Life is wonderful.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

I hope I don’t offend any newspaper or television journalists, but I have become much more happy and relaxed since giving up the news.  Looking back, I have no idea when was the last time I watched it.

Let’s see how this has affected me.  My finances are in manageable order.  I am not in danger of losing my day job, and I’m even starting a new career path with hope instead of despair.  I lock all the doors that need to be locked, but I’m not looking over my shoulder worried if I’ll be the next victim of violent crime.  All in all, I actually feel more independent now than I ever did when I was “well informed.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still get news.  Thanks to Twitter, I heard about the Canadian man that stole an airplane, and was able to have a link to the story.  Now that’s news, but all of the tweets were saying, “Why isn’t this on TV?”  I hate to predict the fall of the status quo of news, but I personally get more of the information I want to get from the internet in many ways.

So my suggestion to you, try it.  After CSI, SVU, or that show that’s taking ER’s spot, turn the TV off.  Read a book.  God forbid, talk with your spouse.  It’s just one of the little things I have actually taken away that has made life just that more enjoyable.

Always Enjoy Life
Zach Ellerbrook

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