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Deepak Chopra’s 7 Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety

The world-renowned spiritual guru shares how to take off the pressure, meditation and breathing tips included.

Kim Lachance Shandrow

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When it comes to combating stress, Deepak Chopra’s advice is surprisingly simple: “Take care of yourself,” he told Entrepreneur during a recent phone interview.

Unfortunately, taking care of Number One is easier said than done for entrepreneurs. They’re often a weary lot that burn the candle at both ends. Most work long hours hustling their dreams into reality, on their own or with little help.

Thus, stress, depression and anxiety are no strangers to the dedicated DIY-ers of the business world. But who has time to unwind? Chopra, fresh off of unveiling a new stress-relieving virtual reality meditation experience, which he partnered with VR content studio Wevr to create, says the key to happiness lies in how we cope and calm down. “When we stress less, we free our spirit and find joy,” he says.

Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

Related: 4 Stress-Management Tips For Reducing Anxiety And Getting More Done

We asked Chopra, a world-renowned spiritual leader, business professor and medical doctor – and quite the time-strapped juggler himself – for some quick tips on how busy entrepreneurs can beat the blues.

Here’s his wise advice, in seven steps. Consider taking the time to take them on. Your health and well-being are every bit worth it.

1. Nourish your body and mind with healthy foods – and splurge sometimes

“Eating a pure diet, one free of toxins, is best for mind-body balance. That doesn’t mean you can’t have chocolate, though. Chocolate has been shown to release dopamine and serotonin, which make you happier.

“While I don’t partake in them, I don’t think a glass of alcohol, beer or wine, hurts. However, you should never go to bed intoxicated because that will mess up everything, including your microbiome, which is the 2 billion bacteria in your gut, something integral to your well-being overall.”

Related: 5 Surefire Ways to Manage Entrepreneur Stress

2. Get a good night’s rest

“Head to bed on time as part of a calming nighttime routine. I go to bed every night at 10 p.m. and wake up at 4 or 5 a.m., ensuring that I get enough sleep for the day ahead, which I start with two hours of meditation and an hour of yoga.

“The secret to good sleep is dynamic activity during the day, and the secret of dynamic activity is deep, restful sleep at night. The two go hand in hand. When this equilibrium is achieved, good sleep is effortless,” Chopra wrote in a Heal Your Life blog post recently.

3. Just breathe

deepak-chopra---The-Secret-of-Healing

“Take a breathing break to take the pressure off. Observe your breath where you are, at your desk or anywhere. Start by consciously breathing in to the count of four and breathing out to the count of six, with a short pause in between.

“The normal breathing rate is about 14 breaths per minute, but if you follow this simple practice, you actually decrease your breathing to somewhere between eight to 10 breaths per minute. Doing so has a very direct positive effect on your biggest nerve [the sciatic nerve], which is your stress-reliever and what brings about cell regulation.”

Related: Stress Management Strategies: The 4As

4. Take a gratitude break

“Sit for five minutes and meditate and reflect on what you’re grateful for. Or, you can just be grateful for every breath for a couple of minutes at a time. Try using a simple mantra for manifesting gratitude, such as ‘I am.’ Repeat the mantra to yourself four or five times silently.”

5. Wind down once a day

“Embrace an active, daily stress-management routine. Once a day, make time to care for yourself by doing yoga or running, walking, watching comedy or getting a massage.

“You can also take in uplifting entertainment and culture, like art and music, poetry.”

6. Engage in nurturing relationships

“Make sure that the relationships you have are emotionally healthy and foster love, compassion, joy and equanimity. People who compliment you genuinely about your strengths actually have a great impact on your well-being and also on your productivity. Criticising, condemning and victimising aren’t helpful or productive…”

Related: Want to be Fulfilled? Be Grateful

7. Get grounded

“I’ve recently been fascinated with the practice of grounding. It’s when people walk barefoot on the beach, the grass or other natural surfaces on the earth. They report that they feel better, in body and mind.

“The earth is a biosphere with negative and positive forces, like a battery, and your body is part of the battery. So take some time to walk barefoot on the earth, absorbing the free electrons, and recharge your battery.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Kim Lachance Shandrow is a Los Angeles-based tech journalist who specializes in writing about iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phones, as well as social media marketing, startups, streaming TV, apps and green technology. Her work has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, MSNBC.com, NBC.com, and in The Los Angeles Times and The International Business Times. She also consults for Ameba, a Canadian multiplatform children’s streaming TV startup.

Work Life Balance

Avoid Burnout With These Small Changes To The Way You Work

Follow these five tips to work smarter, not harder.

Lisa Promise

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Workplace burnout is real. I know, because I’ve been there, and I know most others have as well at some point or another. Thrive Global’s Arianna Huffington is no different. She’s on a mission to fix what she deems a “culture of burnout,” after her own collapse from exhaustion in 2007.

Huffington rightly says: “When we take care of ourselves, we are more effective, we are more creative and we are more successful in a broad definition of the word.”

Medical News Bulletin recently published “Can Positive Psychology Traits Prevent Burnout?,” referencing a study where participants completed a survey about the balance of the effort versus reward from a job. This particular research was focused on the manufacturing industry in China, given the “monotonous and repetitive nature of their work,” but this can be said for many professions and sectors. It was found that hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism can help to manage work stress, and people with these qualities are less likely to become burnt out.

Related: (Video) Avoid Burn Out

There have been many studies published over the years that working less results in higher productivity (hint: the optimal number is less than 40 hours per week). Perhaps even more important is that it’s nearly impossible to stay focused for long stretches at a time. Some research suggests that you should be breaking as frequently as every hour.

Work smarter not harder

In line with that, I believe in working smarter, not harder. While there are 24 hours in a day, they weren’t all made for work. I’m in the camp that working eight hours nonstop is actually more unproductive than it is beneficial. Your brain has peak operating times, and what works for one may not work for another.

Some people are at their best in the mornings, while others are most efficient late at night. I firmly believe that dictating what hours you should work and when is not the best method to yield quality work.

I often get asked how I can get things done. I work from home, and some have the perspective that I have no one to hold me accountable throughout the day. Inquiring minds wonder everything from what my daily schedule looks like, to how I motivate myself to finish up a project or prospect for my next client.

Related: Even If You Work Hard And Love What You Do, You’re Still At Risk Of Burning Out

tim-ferrissLet me start by saying that I strongly value flexibility. It’s the reason why working for myself is the best fit for me. But I hold myself accountable, and there’s a certain amount of self-discipline involved in doing that. Everything I do is because I’ve set goals for myself.

I have a duty to uphold to my clients and my partners, and a commitment to myself about the success of my business. I also pride myself in the underrated aspect of efficiency. It’s not how long you do something for, but how well you do it.

Several books I’ve read over the years on this topic have stuck with me. Getting Things Done, by David Allen, addresses the two-minute rule. If you can do something in two minutes or less, do it now. Don’t make a note and come back to it later. The time you spend thinking about it, planning it and recording it is more than the time it actually takes to complete the task.

Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week covers the topic of efficiency as well. He’s a prime example of taking the phrase “Work smarter, not harder” to a whole new level. To be successful, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work more, only that you need to work more efficiently.

Based on experience, I’ve adopted these top five tips to do just that:

Free up your mind

There is no need to remember everything. You read that right. Why are you keeping everything in your mind, which only serves to bog you down and make you feel overwhelmed? Find a record-keeping system that works for you.

Related: Admin Hacks For Entrepreneurs

Some people prefer old-fashioned paper notes. I prefer electronic. With a Mac laptop and an iPhone, I use Notes and Reminders apps to store everything I need to do or think about. I schedule reminder times to make sure I’ve checked something off my list. No matter what device I’m on, I know it’s available to me.

Schedule

Plus, I schedule everything on my calendar – my morning activities to start my day, hours allocated for every client and even things like time to take a walk. But again, I’m flexible. I move things around as needed, but I know I have set time to focus on a task at hand.

Plan and bucket

Some projects seem daunting from the start, but they need to be done whether you want to or not. Oftentimes the hardest part of a project is starting it.

Create a plan and break it down into manageable chunks. If you can complete a portion each day, not only will your mind stay sharp, but that focus will also help to make the task more bearable. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Follow the 80/20 rule

I’m a longtime follower of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle: 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the work.

Why are you spending time on things that take 80 percent of your resources but deliver 20 percent of the value?

Stop doing meaningless tasks, or outsource them if they must be done. Prioritisation is one of the most important keys to efficiency.

Take breaks

It might seem counter intuitive that you can get more done by working less, but the human mind was not created to work non-stop. As research suggests, breaks are beneficial. Go for a walk, have lunch away from your desk, read a book, catch up with a friend or colleague – I promise you’ll feel refreshed and ready to reengage.

Related: Is Working Too Hard Destroying Your Business?

The 40-hour workweek is so synonymous with the American culture that it’s unlikely to change in the corporate world anytime soon. Most of us know that 40 hours isn’t really 40 hours anyway, it’s “whatever it takes.” That being said, with influencers like Huffington working to educate companies on the detriments of overwork, there’s hope.

There’s nothing wrong with working hard – it’s to be admired and valued. But don’t work long hours only for the sake of it. The companies that are getting it right realise that face time isn’t everything.

The results you deliver, the reputation you hold and the relationships you build should always outweigh the hours of your workweek. As an entrepreneur, you can take advantage of this and you can evangelise this approach to others. Work smarter, not harder, and you’ll be better for it.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Work Life Balance

4 Ways Sleeping Naked Makes You Healthier and Wealthier

What if I told you in just ten seconds a day, you can sleep better, make more money, reduce stress and lose weight?

Travis Bradberry

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Sleeping naked can improve your sleep habits and income earning capacity, while reducing stress and helping you to lose weight. All you have to do is take off your clothes. While there are countless strategies floating around out there to help you improve in these areas, none is as simple — and many are less effective — as stripping down before you go to sleep.

Since only 8% of people sleep naked, almost everyone can discover the benefits of sleeping in the buff. This may sound far-fetched, but hear me out before you throw those cozy flannel pyjamas on.

1. You sleep better naked

We’ve always known that quality sleep is good for your brain, but recent research from the University of Rochester demonstrates exactly how so. The study found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. The catch here is that your brain can only adequately remove these toxic proteins when you have sufficient quality sleep.

When you don’t get high quality, deep sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc and ultimately impairing your ability to think. This slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity and increases your emotional reactivity.

Related: 7 Motivational Habits That Drive Millionaires

Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that lowering your skin temperature increases the depth of your sleep and reduces the number of times you wake up at night. Stripping down to your birthday suit is a great way to lower your skin temperature without changing the temperature of the room.

2. Sleeping naked reduces stress

We all know that prolonged stress is bad news. It suppresses your immune system and increases your risk of heart disease, depression and obesity, in addition to decreasing your cognitive performance. Stress throws your cortisol levels out of whack. Proper rest helps to restore normal cortisol levels, which improves your stress level, regardless of what’s happening around you. As described in the section above, sleeping naked will help you to get a better night’s sleep.

3. Sleeping naked is healthier

Sleeping naked has a slew of health benefits, including helping you to lose weight. A study conducted by the US National Institutes of Health found that keeping yourself cool while you sleep speeds the body’s metabolism because your body creates more brown fat to keep you warm. Brown fat produces heat by burning calories (300 times more heat than any organ in the body), and this boosts your metabolism all day long to help you lose weight.

In addition to the metabolic effects of sleeping in the buff, removing your clothes improves blood circulation, which is good for your heart and muscles. The quality sleep you’ll enjoy also increases the release of growth hormone and melatonin, both of which have anti-ageing benefits.

Related: 10 Things Successful People Tell Themselves Every Day

4. Sleeping naked builds confidence

Confidence doesn’t just feel good; it’s the pillar of success. It pushes you to try new things, take on challenges and persevere in the face of adversity. A University of Melbourne study found that confident people earn higher wages and get promoted more often than their less confident counterparts. Sleeping naked makes you more comfortable in your own skin. As your comfort with your body increases, so does your self-esteem and confidence.

Bringing It All Together 

The benefits of sleeping naked are many — so many that you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

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Work Life Balance

Even If You Work Hard And Love What You Do, You’re Still At Risk Of Burning Out

And no, it can’t be be resolved by blowing off some steam or meditating for 30 minutes.

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When we’re deeply immersed in our work, we’re often committed to a goal and a quality standard and making progress accordingly. This is what people mean when they talk about “engagement.” Is the person not only working hard, but truly invested in what they’re doing?

Naturally, however, working hard can result in stress, which can lead to burnout, even if a person is extremely passionate about their work. A recent study from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence found that nearly one in five people are both highly engaged with their work and experiencing exhaustion and burnout.

The researchers conducted an online survey to suss out the conflicting emotions this group feels toward their jobs – these individuals are interested in their work, but they’re also frustrated and stressed out by it. They’re stressed out to the extent that they think more about leaving their current jobs than people who aren’t engaged with their work do.

Related: How To Go From Burnout To Breakthrough

In other words, there’s such a thing as too much engagement. So what can we do to make sure workers don’t get too wrapped up in their work? The answer isn’t workplace programs that involve nutrition or meditation, the researchers warn.

“While we know that chronic stress is not good for employees, company wellness initiatives are not the primary way to respond to that stress,” study lead Julia Moeller writes in Harvard Business Review. “Our data suggests that while wellness initiatives can be helpful, a much bigger lever is the work itself.”

The researchers break down the factors that determine a worker’s experience into two categories: Resources and demands. If a worker has tangible resources such as time, money and equipment at their disposal, as well as intangibles such as empathy or even friendship from their team, they’ll be better off. They’ll also benefit from rewards and recognition for the work they do.

But if all of this is coupled with an environment that doesn’t demand that they work or think too hard – one that fosters work-life balance and doesn’t involve goals so lofty they’re impossible to achieve – most workers with this set of circumstances will thrive.

Related: What I Wish I Knew About Avoiding Burnout As An Entrepreneur

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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