Fit For Life: “Speaking Words of Wisdom…Let It Be…”

Saturday, November 11, 2017


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I am talking with a very successful friend of mine the other day, and we were both comparing how owning a business can create certain levels of stress and anxiety. He runs a multi-million-dollar business, so obviously, he lays a lot more on the line than I do, therefore his stress levels should be a lot higher than mine. Right? Wait let me finish. Then I asked “What the hell are we doing this for? Why don’t we just get some union job for $30 an hour, punch a clock, and leave all the b/s behind when we go home?”

Then I started thinking about a friend of mine that has that exact lifestyle, and has so much anxiety that he needs medication to leave the house, due to an A-hole boss that yells at everyone and creates an unhappy work environment.

Then my buddy made a good point. He said, “What’s the difference in anxiety levels between someone making 75K a year and someone trying to make 20 million?” And the answer is…nothing.

Anxiety is real, and I feel that everyone carries around a certain degree, due to everyday stresses that daily life brings. It’s not due to the age we live in, it’s caused by uncertainty, self-doubt, and competitive forces that surround us. And these things have been part of humanity since the beginning of time. Think about it.

Do you think Paleolithic folks were stressed out not knowing whether they would eat or be eaten? Do you think the Revolutionary era, where guys were trudging through the snow to fight a war created stress and anxiety? How about the Civil War era when you were likely to die by either gunfire or disease? Any stress there? Or the Great Depression. Hell, just the name says it all. (Kind of an oxymoron if you ask me)

Like I said earlier, anxiety and depression is real and it doesn’t discriminate. The difference is how we handle it. I am not touting myself as an expert in this field, so some of what I say may be debatable by experts, so understand that I am just speaking from everyday experience, and encounters with others.

Being a business owner and dealing with many people daily, I see and live with anxiety – every day. I feel it, and I hear people talking about it, and listen to how people handle it. Some need medication. I personally would never go that route due to the side effects associated with it. I need to be sharp and on my game every day and don’t want to numb my senses or feelings. The same reason I would never take a pain killer or anti-inflammatory. If you have an injury, and try to work through it by masking the pain, you make it worse. I feel like we need to endure pain sometimes to get stronger.

If your ankle hurts, and you mask the pain, you will use it too much or put too much pressure on it, and possibly make it worse. I think the same way about feelings and emotions. If you mask the pain with prescription drugs, you will never have the strength to get through tough situations, and risk becoming addicted to get through the day. Again, this is just my opinion, and you may not agree, but it’s how I deal with these things. I know for some, there is no other option, but I feel this should be a last resort. If possible.

Some folks get so crippled by anxiety and depression they never leave the house. I believe isolation only makes things worse, and being around positive people can help improve your situation. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about human interaction, and how we need more. Talking to folks and not being alone will help you get out of your own head, and alleviate some mind trash that could be bringing you down.

I learned that my business coach and mentor, Bedros, has experience dealing with this topic also. This made me feel a bit better, not because misery loves company, but because if a high-level entrepreneur battled with it, it can happen to anyone. He published an article and I will share some of his takes:

Here are some simple habits you can start today to fight anxiety:

1) Get outside in the sunshine and walk for 20 minutes in the AM and PM.

2) If you’re feeling anxious for any reason, using this breathing cycle to slow down, calm down, and bring your emotions back down. Just breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold that big breath in your belly for 4 seconds, and exhale slowly for 7 seconds until your belly is empty. Repeat 4 to 8 times for a 1-2-minute relaxation session. Works great for when you’re upset with your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, too!

3) Do your best to get "out of your own head" and give yourself to the world. When you get ‘outside’ of your own head and focus on helping another human being overcome struggles, you feel exponentially better (through the physical release of “feel good” hormones in your body) and you worry less about your problems.

4) Treat yourself as a high-performance physical and mental achiever. That means getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Stop using electronics an hour before bed. Study after study proves that excessive social media use (specially before bed time) increase rates of anxiety, stress and depression. Put more structure in your day and boundaries around your social media use. Eat healthy, whole, natural foods and avoiding foods from a bag or a box. And get regular exercise, doing something that challenges your body for 30 minutes a day.

5) Remember that anxiety is self-induced and a byproduct of your thoughts and habits. It's the Comparison Syndrome and it's Anticipation of Future Pain. Stop comparing your life with what others post on social media.

You're fine.
You're okay.
You're not missing out on anything.
They don't have a better life than you.
The pain and problems you're anticipating are likely exaggerated in your mind.
Start with those small steps today. Over time you’ll feel better, become more patient, and be able to change your thought patterns as well as your habits.
And never forget, please do not suffer in silence.
You are surrounded with people that love you and want the best for you.

Great words of wisdom from a great motivator.

I use all of Bedros’ tactics listed above, and I always feel better after.
I add music to this list. When I am in my car and start heading towards the dark side, I find something in my playlist, blast the volume and sing along. It helps, and is fun at the same time. You can’t have two emotions happening at the same time, so when you smile and make yourself happy, even for a brief moment, anxiety and depression won’t prevail.

As Paul McCartney said:

When I find myself in times of trouble,
Mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom,
let it be.
And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me speaking words of wisdom. Let it be…

So know that you are not alone, and know there are things you can do. Follow some of the steps and ideas listed, find your Mother Mary, and “let it be”

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Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one.


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