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Discussion #26 - Stress

As everyone knows, too-frequent/intense or long-term stress is one of the nastiest ways to go through life. We all have some, it's normal, unavoidable, even healthy in the right doses. In the wrong doses/duration, it can lead to some very serious health issues, & greatly accelerate the aging process. As I am not a Doctor, I will leave these to the professionals. What I can discuss, is some ways that I've found to (greatly) reduce continuous, too-frequent, or too-intense stress.

It really does boil down to a lifestyle choice. There are, of course, certain situations that are unavoidable; the death of a loved one, an abusive or neglected childhood, among others. In this post, I would like to discuss ways to reduce the more controllable forms of stress. The types which are basically a result of choices that we make every day, & usually many times a day.

One of the biggest (controllable) forms of stress, is what I call "relationship stress" (usually marriage). If you are currently married, have ever been married, or have come close to being married, then you know exactly what I'm referring to. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of reasons why being married is a great way to go through life (going on 31 years for me). It's just that when conflicts do arise, they can get pretty brutal & stressful. Ask any police officer, & they will tell you that domestic disputes are the ones they fear the most!

The reasons for this are complex, but in a nutshell, it really is just choices made by both parties every single day. The biggest choice is always; are we going to fight to get our way, compromise, or just give in. In many cases, it is one person or the other who is "giving in" most of the time. This person (male or female) is not necessarily the weaker willed of the two. It usually means that he/she is just far more interested in keeping the peace. (Usually because they realize what a number this form of stress does on the human body).

If this arrangement is ok with both parties, then great. If it's not, then there are 3 possible solutions. 1. Communicate with each other (not the yelling/screaming form). It sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many couples never do it (about anything below the surface). 2. Seek professional help (a marriage counsellor or similar). 3. Well, you already know what 3 is. I strongly advise against #3, as the same issues will likely occur with the next person. Sometimes just the knowledge that we all love to be in control of our lives (some more than others), is all that it takes for these problems to greatly diminish.

We all have a vast amount of control over most forms of stress, we just need to flex our God-given will-power muscles to get the desired results. This does not mean laze around like a bum, as hard work can be one of the most stress-reducing activities in existence! The stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, & others) are extremely powerful chemicals. In normal doses, they are healthy. In excess, they do serious harm.

I personally believe that a healthy dose of stress, every now & then, once in a while, is extremely healthy. Let's face it, if life on Earth were completely sterilized, to the point of no adversity or hardships whatsoever, we would all literally die of boredom. On top of this, is the fact that much of our character is built on these hardships and challenges. What keeps life so intensely exciting & interesting, are in fact the many risks, perils & challenges that exist in this world.

Most stress is not the result of too much work, but rather human relationships that just aren't always going super-smooth. If this is an issue for you, try being nicer to the people around you. It will almost definitely mean people will be nicer back to you, resulting in a much less stressful lifestyle. Also, do not become a human door-mat & let people walk all over you. This will not help a bit. There is a way of standing your ground, & still being nice about it.

Niceness is not a sign of unintelligence like many believe, it's actually quite the opposite. The key is respect, this is ultimately what people really want, in any form of human relationship. To be strong in character is completely the opposite of being vicious and mean-spirited. If you stop and analyze the people who are the most successful in life (wealth AND health), strength of character combined with being genuinely a nice person is what you will find.

Another huge aspect of health, happiness, and life on planet Earth, is the many common addictive substances that most consume in some form. By far the biggest reason for this is stress reduction. Smoking, overeating, excessive drinking & other forms of drug abuse. The abuse of these substances is generally for 2 reasons only; entertainment and relaxation. There are chemical addictions that kick in very quickly with these, but we are all responsible and possess the necessary "will power" to overcome any addiction if we so choose. I personally have only struggled with one of these addictions in my life; overeating, so I will only elaborate on this one.

Go diet shopping! Pick a diet that doesn't drive you nuts! There's plenty to choose from and most of them work! It's far more important to find this magical diet (if it exists) than to follow or try the latest trendy diet (or the one your friend suggests). To follow any diet for a short period of time is futile (and unhealthy), as your weight will just return when you stop. Whatever "diet" you choose must be something you can live with for the rest of your mortal life. Otherwise, don't bother torturing yourself for nothing! The word "diet" does not mean "temporary", like most think.

Overeating is by far the biggest addiction in the richer countries, and the most commonly used for stress reduction. It (like all the others) causes intense endorphin production in the brain which in turn causes the "rush". Some need far more stimulation than others to "get the job done" in life, and eating is one of the easiest and most affordable methods (in the richer countries). There is definitely a genetic metabolic rate factor involved, but you will likely never find anyone even remotely overweight in poor countries where very little food is available. With us, food is everywhere!

These numerous vices, which also include things like vaping, gambling, speeding, and so on, are basically our way of escaping the stress of life. They're like a crutch, and we all use them, to one degree or another. Even drinking too much coffee is a mild vice for most people.

2nd place in this little "reasons for vices" contest, would have to go to our insatiable thirst for turbo-charged external stimulation. There is even a "vice squad" in many large police forces around the world. These unique law enforcement units specialize in crimes such as illegal gambling, narcotics, prostitution, illegal alcohol sales, etc. etc. But of all the stressors & vices in life, human drama is by far the biggest culprit for most people.

Some live for drama, and can never seem to get enough of it. Others hate it, and are subconsciously very stressed out by it. There is a bit of animalistic "beast" in every one of us, and this creates an inherent level of "vicousness" to our personality, that greatly determines how stressed out, or how entertained we are by human drama. In reality, these are two opposite extremes, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. The situation also hugely affects whether we're loving or hating the drama.

The bottom line however, is that it normally does get fairly vicious in most social circles, and this is why I personally believe many human vices come into play. People are using these turbo-charged forms of stimulation to escape their daily (or situational) level of anxiety. They generally cause our endocrine system to produce & secrete powerful endorphins, and/or short-term bursts of adrenaline into our bloodstream, which combat the stress hormones.

When a person becomes introspective enough to really understand what's going on under the hood in their own life, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships, they have instantly won half the battle. Then, it gives you the ammo you need to fight the other half as well. Stress-related addictions will then be dramatically easier to kick to the curb (if you care). Don't get me wrong, I love people as much as anyone, and absolutely no one wants to go through this life alone, but I think you get where I'm going with this.

A good indicator of how stressful your day is/was, is the darkness of your urine. The lighter the shade, the less stress chemicals have been pumped into your bloodstream recently. This is obviously not an exact measurement, as things like liquid intake amount/substance greatly affect this, but it's a great general indicator.

Humanity is now heading into a much more stressful era in our microevolution, mainly due to the elevated levels of career competition, along with an increasingly turbo-stimulated typical lifestyle. Both have been heating up dramatically in just the past 20 years or so. Our physical biology has simply not had time to catch up with this evolutionary process, which is occurring mainly in the more affluent societies. When you go back a bit further, say to the pioneer days, life was much harder, but it was mainly physical labour. The changes in our lifestyles have been so dramatic in the last 100 years (not long in the grand scheme of history), that there is no chance whatsoever of our biology keeping up.

It's an extremely wise idea to take some healthy steps to keep your daily stress in check. I strongly recommend injecting more light exercise (just plain walking is amazing), especially if you do a lot of intense thinking, or have a stressful career. In Europe (for example), there is very little obesity (compared with North America), mainly because the vast majority walk everywhere, even as a form of transportation. In North America, we tend to drive. Light exercise burns off stress chemicals (as well as calories).

Sure there's always the gym, but how much fun is that, and how many of us actually keep going after New Year's? It's difficult to stay motivated with the gym, because nothing productive really happens there, aside from the goal of getting/staying fit. Sports can be fun, but you have to watch out for those pesky injuries. Running and jogging are also great, but are generally fairly hard on the joints. A few hundred years ago, we were actually being productive with our physical activity. Most were farming, or building things, etc. Now, the "high end" jobs are mostly thinking jobs, which is good in a way, as our brain needs to stay fit too, but does not encourage a lot of physical activity. This issue is also a big part of the reason why high blood pressure is becoming such a common problem in our modern culture.

A high stress lifestyle can also lead to obesity in a major way, both from overeating, and also from adverse chemical processes in the body. It's also wise to be aware of your basic personality type. If you are biologically wired to be type "A", then "go, go, go" is likely your main mantra in life. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as it normally feeds your soul in many ways (& is great for productivity). If however, you are not wired for it, this can get a little tricky. You may have a job or career that demands it, and may view this as a job requirement. As career competition heats up, this is becoming more and more common. However, a little lollygagging now & then (for most people), is extremely therapeutic and healthy for the soul.

I will mention this next point with as much tact and diplomacy as possible, but there is also another family of endocrine-produced hormones which tend to eat the stress family for breakfast. I'll give you a hint (from the '60's era); make love, not war.

Although the medical industry can definitely perform some amazing feats of healing, they obviously cannot fix many of the medical problems and conditions that could potentially develop, and that we have a great deal of control over. It's becoming well known that long-term stress & anxiety reduction is the best overall method of preventing many of these illnesses from developing in the first place.

Nearly half the Western world is on anxiety, depression, or mind altering medication of some form or fashion (43% of North Americans), & this number is steadily climbing. There is actually a low-level noise floor of anxiety that is developing in much of the world, & very few are even aware of it.

Pay attention to the inner functioning of your body. Listen to it, it's trying to tell you things. Pay attention to which mental and physical activities are stressing you out, and which ones are calming you down (or exciting you). In most cases, (your own) mind control and will power are far more powerful and effective at reducing stress than any medication (or vice) will ever be. Learning how to control your own stress & anxiety levels is like learning to ride a bike. Once you figure out the technique, you'll never forget. This is especially important in the area of quality sleep.

To a very large degree, life is just stressful, and learning to deal with it is a far better plan than attempting to eradicate it completely from your life (as this is not even possible). To some degree, it's a good idea to learn to be relatively thick-skinned. Life is complex, and there is no one on Earth who has this completely figured out. In many ways, this is one of the biggest "survival" issues in life.

When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, we may never know for sure what the origin was. It may be nature, or it may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. What we do know for sure, is that the stronger we maintain or improve our immune system, the better our chances we'll beat this thing, if we do get it. In societies around the world, we need to be very concerned about conditions like high blood pressure (hypertension), and prediabetes, which are actually an epidemic on their own in many countries.

Many are having cardiac events in their homes from this virus. For this reason, along with our immune system health, we need to keep our stress levels down. DO NOT allow your body to become RUN DOWN by weeks or months of poor quality sleep from extreme worry and anxiety. The world is NOT coming to an end, this IS temporary, and we ARE all in this together!

Wash your hands often, social distance, prevent the spread, and then RELAX! Focus on controlling your thoughts & emotions, and do your very best to ENJOY this time in your life! Many see this period of time as a "pause" in our lives, but it really isn't. Without trying to sound overly "Mary Poppins", life is not just about doing activities, and various other "things". The main purpose of life is to grow as a human being.

This is in reality a major chapter in all of our lives, and one of the more challenging. I dare anyone to not grow from this. Is it the most fun we've ever had in our lives? Of course not, and for some, especially in the financial area, it's hell. But if we survive this, and most of us will, we will be stronger.

Even though we're at the top of the food chain, we're still a part of nature. It's really easy to forget that, when we're flying all over the world, and advancing as a species to such a degree, that we can control many aspects of our lives. Within our modern world, it seems like we've evolved past our connection with nature, but we never will, and this pandemic is the proof of that. Our scientists conjure up drugs to fight these viruses, but nature always seems to get a good swipe at us in the process. Our control over these sorts of things has serious limitations. It bothers us, this lack of control. Every now & then, nature seems to want to teach us a lesson in who's really in charge.

With the coronavirus, most of us really despise this sense of uncertainty. We still do not know for sure if this virus is natural or man-made, but most scientists (globally) are leaning hard towards natural. In recent years, it's pretty obvious we've not been respecting (or good stewards of) our environment. We as human beings, don't seem to be overly concerned about kicking the solutions to our environmental problems into high gear. It could be, that nature is.

Obsessing over this pandemic, however, is not a healthy thing to do. Many people are, partly because of the way the media is obsessing over it. Everyone is a little OCD, that's normal, but it can so easily become extreme if people's anxiety levels stay too high, for far too long. I'm concerned that we may have an entire generation of germaphobes on our hands, if we're not careful. As Howie Mandel would say, welcome to his world.

While there may be important lessons for us to learn from all of this, the main thing right now is that we all keep our health & spirits up as much as possible. Stay positive, stop stressing, get better quality sleep. This new chapter in our lives is very surreal, but we will get through it. A big part of the reason why so many feel anxious right now, is this feeling of loss of control.

The truth is, we've never had complete control of our lives, and we never will. That's just part of the charm that is our time on this Earth. If we did have complete control, we'd all die of boredom. Dealing with adversity is how we grow, our character is generated mainly from it. Keeping this in mind, will help all of this make a little more sense. When things make sense, our anxiety tends to melt away.

Recently, we're all discovering that this is turning out to be much more of a long-term and ongoing situation than we first believed. This means we now have to start learning to live with this virus long-term, similar to the flu and common cold.

One major factor which greatly affects our overall stress and anxiety levels in life, is how free we are in our country. The global Human Freedom Index ranks our overall level compared to other nations in the world. This level greatly affects our daily overall stress and anxiety, and therefore our overall health. While we will never have complete control over our lives, we definitely do have some, and this is one area of life that we really should care a great deal about, especially for the sake of our children.

Our freedom is NOT a right-wing vs left-wing thing. It's NOT about political tribes. This is about not losing our fundamental rights as human beings. It's about not wanting to live in countries that are quickly becoming similar to, let's be honest here, communist China. A country where censorship, oppression, and the ruling class reign supreme.

The freedom movement that is currently spreading across the globe with incredible speed and ferocity, will end when and if we're all convinced that this will not happen in our country, because we as human beings will never stop fighting for our fundamental rights. Until they are returned back to us, and our countries are free once again. No country is 100% free, like most things in life, it's a spectrum.

Of course there are laws which should be followed, but we have historically (in Canada, for example) been extremely free in comparison to other countries, and the vast majority of us obviously want this to continue. This means that the truckers, along with tens of thousands of other protesters, are speaking for most of us. This global freedom movement is happening because we want to live in, and leave our children with a country that is not heavily oppressed by tyrannical rule.

Let's face it, we're not fully alive unless we're free, and there is an intense form of anger and anxiety that is also present in our body when we're living an oppressed, heavily controlled, and unjust lifestyle. Subconsciously, AND consciously, we know it's not right, and it bothers us right to the core of our soul, no matter which "wing" or political party we belong or subscribe to. We're all getting a taste of what slavery and segregation is really like. It's actually probably not a horrible thing that we're experiencing this (for a short time), because now we're beginning to have more of an appreciation for what slavery was, and is actually like.

We've temporarily given many of our rights away for this crisis, some governments have taken even more (give an inch & they take a mile), and now many simply don't want to give them back. And for reasons we're not quite sure of. People are starting to worry that this may be the beginning of some kind of global communist takeover or movement. This sounds far-fetched, but that doesn't mean that it's not the reality to some degree. A few of these "conspiracy theories" have in fact already turned into realities during this pandemic.

This is why there is such strong support for the truckers and other protesters in Canada, and around the world. The best and quickest way for governments to solve this problem, is to give people concrete and transparent plans and dates for removing these mandates, (which many provinces in my country have already done!). Otherwise, people will logically assume that something far more nefarious and permanent is going on here. Possibly even very high-up and powerful influences from outside of our own countries.

There are now "Canada-like" freedom convoys being planned and/or are happening in at least 30 other countries and rising (including the US), so it's not just Canadians who now feel that something is seriously not right here. The entire world is now waking up to this reality.

It's extremely healthy for us, ALL of us, to feel like we have some control over our destiny, and we do. But we have to forge this destiny, it will not happen automatically, or be handed to us on a silver platter. Especially if too many of us are distracted with other things, or are simply too complacent. This may create a bit of extra stress in the short-term, but living in free societies from then on, is more than worth the price of admission.

In fact, in the minds of most protesters in Ottawa, this was more of a CELEBRATION of freedom and patriotism than it was a protest (before things started getting too intense). Virtually EVERYONE who went down to our capital city of Ottawa for a visit felt this way. This is why in the beginning it was more than safe to bring their children along. It was more EXCITING and JOYFUL than it was stressful. I mean let's face it, who doesn't love freedom?

Because excitement eats stress for breakfast, there is nothing MORE exciting, and LESS stressful than peacefully fighting for a righteous cause that you really believe in. And because these freedom fighters were doing this mainly for their children's futures, why not have them take part in the excitement? It was an excellent life lesson for them!

This pandemic has been rough on all of us, but I am personally extremely proud of my fellow Canadians, along with the citizens of ALL countries, who are standing up for their rights and not being complacent. This also includes many if not most of the government leaders, who are now listening to the voices of the majority of people in their jurisdictions. It's becoming increasingly clear that segregation and trampling on people's rights were never, and will never be good tools to use in this, or any other global crisis.

Thankfully, we're all starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we've all grown from this experience. We will never have complete unity in any democratic society, but it should ALWAYS be the ultimate goal to strive for. Yes, it may slow things down a bit when it comes to ramming through major changes, but the massive advantages to democracy completely outweigh the disadvantages. That won't be the way a dictator sees it, but virtually everyone else will. And by far the biggest advantage of democracy, is the dramatically lower overall stress level of the VAST majority of citizens in these societies.
Discussion #26 - Stress

As everyone knows, too-frequent/intense or long-term stress is one of the nastiest ways to go through life. We all have some, it's normal, unavoidable, even healthy in the right doses. In the wrong doses/duration, it can lead to some very serious health issues, & greatly accelerate the aging process. As I am not a Doctor, I will leave these to the professionals. What I can discuss, is some ways that I've found to (greatly) reduce continuous, too-frequent, or too-intense stress.

It really does boil down to a lifestyle choice. There are, of course, certain situations that are unavoidable; the death of a loved one, an abusive or neglected childhood, among others. In this post, I would like to discuss ways to reduce the more controllable forms of stress. The types which are basically a result of choices that we make every day, & usually many times a day.

One of the biggest (controllable) forms of stress, is what I call "relationship stress" (usually marriage). If you are currently married, have ever been married, or have come close to being married, then you know exactly what I'm referring to. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of reasons why being married is a great way to go through life (going on 31 years for me). It's just that when conflicts do arise, they can get pretty brutal & stressful. Ask any police officer, & they will tell you that domestic disputes are the ones they fear the most!

The reasons for this are complex, but in a nutshell, it really is just choices made by both parties every single day. The biggest choice is always; are we going to fight to get our way, compromise, or just give in. In many cases, it is one person or the other who is "giving in" most of the time. This person (male or female) is not necessarily the weaker willed of the two. It usually means that he/she is just far more interested in keeping the peace. (Usually because they realize what a number this form of stress does on the human body).

If this arrangement is ok with both parties, then great. If it's not, then there are 3 possible solutions. 1. Communicate with each other (not the yelling/screaming form). It sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many couples never do it (about anything below the surface). 2. Seek professional help (a marriage counsellor or similar). 3. Well, you already know what 3 is. I strongly advise against #3, as the same issues will likely occur with the next person. Sometimes just the knowledge that we all love to be in control of our lives (some more than others), is all that it takes for these problems to greatly diminish.

We all have a vast amount of control over most forms of stress, we just need to flex our God-given will-power muscles to get the desired results. This does not mean laze around like a bum, as hard work can be one of the most stress-reducing activities in existence! The stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, & others) are extremely powerful chemicals. In normal doses, they are healthy. In excess, they do serious harm.

I personally believe that a healthy dose of stress, every now & then, once in a while, is extremely healthy. Let's face it, if life on Earth were completely sterilized, to the point of no adversity or hardships whatsoever, we would all literally die of boredom. On top of this, is the fact that much of our character is built on these hardships and challenges. What keeps life so intensely exciting & interesting, are in fact the many risks, perils & challenges that exist in this world.

Most stress is not the result of too much work, but rather human relationships that just aren't always going super-smooth. If this is an issue for you, try being nicer to the people around you. It will almost definitely mean people will be nicer back to you, resulting in a much less stressful lifestyle. Also, do not become a human door-mat & let people walk all over you. This will not help a bit. There is a way of standing your ground, & still being nice about it.

Niceness is not a sign of unintelligence like many believe, it's actually quite the opposite. The key is respect, this is ultimately what people really want, in any form of human relationship. To be strong in character is completely the opposite of being vicious and mean-spirited. If you stop and analyze the people who are the most successful in life (wealth AND health), strength of character combined with being genuinely a nice person is what you will find.

Another huge aspect of health, happiness, and life on planet Earth, is the many common addictive substances that most consume in some form. By far the biggest reason for this is stress reduction. Smoking, overeating, excessive drinking & other forms of drug abuse. The abuse of these substances is generally for 2 reasons only; entertainment and relaxation. There are chemical addictions that kick in very quickly with these, but we are all responsible and possess the necessary "will power" to overcome any addiction if we so choose. I personally have only struggled with one of these addictions in my life; overeating, so I will only elaborate on this one.

Go diet shopping! Pick a diet that doesn't drive you nuts! There's plenty to choose from and most of them work! It's far more important to find this magical diet (if it exists) than to follow or try the latest trendy diet (or the one your friend suggests). To follow any diet for a short period of time is futile (and unhealthy), as your weight will just return when you stop. Whatever "diet" you choose must be something you can live with for the rest of your mortal life. Otherwise, don't bother torturing yourself for nothing! The word "diet" does not mean "temporary", like most think.

Overeating is by far the biggest addiction in the richer countries, and the most commonly used for stress reduction. It (like all the others) causes intense endorphin production in the brain which in turn causes the "rush". Some need far more stimulation than others to "get the job done" in life, and eating is one of the easiest and most affordable methods (in the richer countries). There is definitely a genetic metabolic rate factor involved, but you will likely never find anyone even remotely overweight in poor countries where very little food is available. With us, food is everywhere!

These numerous vices, which also include things like vaping, gambling, speeding, and so on, are basically our way of escaping the stress of life. They're like a crutch, and we all use them, to one degree or another. Even drinking too much coffee is a mild vice for most people.

2nd place in this little "reasons for vices" contest, would have to go to our insatiable thirst for turbo-charged external stimulation. There is even a "vice squad" in many large police forces around the world. These unique law enforcement units specialize in crimes such as illegal gambling, narcotics, prostitution, illegal alcohol sales, etc. etc. But of all the stressors & vices in life, human drama is by far the biggest culprit for most people.

Some live for drama, and can never seem to get enough of it. Others hate it, and are subconsciously very stressed out by it. There is a bit of animalistic "beast" in every one of us, and this creates an inherent level of "vicousness" to our personality, that greatly determines how stressed out, or how entertained we are by human drama. In reality, these are two opposite extremes, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. The situation also hugely affects whether we're loving or hating the drama.

The bottom line however, is that it normally does get fairly vicious in most social circles, and this is why I personally believe many human vices come into play. People are using these turbo-charged forms of stimulation to escape their daily (or situational) level of anxiety. They generally cause our endocrine system to produce & secrete powerful endorphins, and/or short-term bursts of adrenaline into our bloodstream, which combat the stress hormones.

When a person becomes introspective enough to really understand what's going on under the hood in their own life, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships, they have instantly won half the battle. Then, it gives you the ammo you need to fight the other half as well. Stress-related addictions will then be dramatically easier to kick to the curb (if you care). Don't get me wrong, I love people as much as anyone, and absolutely no one wants to go through this life alone, but I think you get where I'm going with this.

A good indicator of how stressful your day is/was, is the darkness of your urine. The lighter the shade, the less stress chemicals have been pumped into your bloodstream recently. This is obviously not an exact measurement, as things like liquid intake amount/substance greatly affect this, but it's a great general indicator.

Humanity is now heading into a much more stressful era in our microevolution, mainly due to the elevated levels of career competition, along with an increasingly turbo-stimulated typical lifestyle. Both have been heating up dramatically in just the past 20 years or so. Our physical biology has simply not had time to catch up with this evolutionary process, which is occurring mainly in the more affluent societies. When you go back a bit further, say to the pioneer days, life was much harder, but it was mainly physical labour. The changes in our lifestyles have been so dramatic in the last 100 years (not long in the grand scheme of history), that there is no chance whatsoever of our biology keeping up.

It's an extremely wise idea to take some healthy steps to keep your daily stress in check. I strongly recommend injecting more light exercise (just plain walking is amazing), especially if you do a lot of intense thinking, or have a stressful career. In Europe (for example), there is very little obesity (compared with North America), mainly because the vast majority walk everywhere, even as a form of transportation. In North America, we tend to drive. Light exercise burns off stress chemicals (as well as calories).

Sure there's always the gym, but how much fun is that, and how many of us actually keep going after New Year's? It's difficult to stay motivated with the gym, because nothing productive really happens there, aside from the goal of getting/staying fit. Sports can be fun, but you have to watch out for those pesky injuries. Running and jogging are also great, but are generally fairly hard on the joints. A few hundred years ago, we were actually being productive with our physical activity. Most were farming, or building things, etc. Now, the "high end" jobs are mostly thinking jobs, which is good in a way, as our brain needs to stay fit too, but does not encourage a lot of physical activity. This issue is also a big part of the reason why high blood pressure is becoming such a common problem in our modern culture.

A high stress lifestyle can also lead to obesity in a major way, both from overeating, and also from adverse chemical processes in the body. It's also wise to be aware of your basic personality type. If you are biologically wired to be type "A", then "go, go, go" is likely your main mantra in life. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as it normally feeds your soul in many ways (& is great for productivity). If however, you are not wired for it, this can get a little tricky. You may have a job or career that demands it, and may view this as a job requirement. As career competition heats up, this is becoming more and more common. However, a little lollygagging now & then (for most people), is extremely therapeutic and healthy for the soul.

I will mention this next point with as much tact and diplomacy as possible, but there is also another family of endocrine-produced hormones which tend to eat the stress family for breakfast. I'll give you a hint (from the '60's era); make love, not war.

Although the medical industry can definitely perform some amazing feats of healing, they obviously cannot fix many of the medical problems and conditions that could potentially develop, and that we have a great deal of control over. It's becoming well known that long-term stress & anxiety reduction is the best overall method of preventing many of these illnesses from developing in the first place.

Nearly half the Western world is on anxiety, depression, or mind altering medication of some form or fashion (43% of North Americans), & this number is steadily climbing. There is actually a low-level noise floor of anxiety that is developing in much of the world, & very few are even aware of it.

Pay attention to the inner functioning of your body. Listen to it, it's trying to tell you things. Pay attention to which mental and physical activities are stressing you out, and which ones are calming you down (or exciting you). In most cases, (your own) mind control and will power are far more powerful and effective at reducing stress than any medication (or vice) will ever be. Learning how to control your own stress & anxiety levels is like learning to ride a bike. Once you figure out the technique, you'll never forget. This is especially important in the area of quality sleep.

To a very large degree, life is just stressful, and learning to deal with it is a far better plan than attempting to eradicate it completely from your life (as this is not even possible). To some degree, it's a good idea to learn to be relatively thick-skinned. Life is complex, and there is no one on Earth who has this completely figured out. In many ways, this is one of the biggest "survival" issues in life.

When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, we may never know for sure what the origin was. It may be nature, or it may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. What we do know for sure, is that the stronger we maintain or improve our immune system, the better our chances we'll beat this thing, if we do get it. In societies around the world, we need to be very concerned about conditions like high blood pressure (hypertension), and prediabetes, which are actually an epidemic on their own in many countries.

Many are having cardiac events in their homes from this virus. For this reason, along with our immune system health, we need to keep our stress levels down. DO NOT allow your body to become RUN DOWN by weeks or months of poor quality sleep from extreme worry and anxiety. The world is NOT coming to an end, this IS temporary, and we ARE all in this together!

Wash your hands often, social distance, prevent the spread, and then RELAX! Focus on controlling your thoughts & emotions, and do your very best to ENJOY this time in your life! Many see this period of time as a "pause" in our lives, but it really isn't. Without trying to sound overly "Mary Poppins", life is not just about doing activities, and various other "things". The main purpose of life is to grow as a human being.

This is in reality a major chapter in all of our lives, and one of the more challenging. I dare anyone to not grow from this. Is it the most fun we've ever had in our lives? Of course not, and for some, especially in the financial area, it's hell. But if we survive this, and most of us will, we will be stronger.

Even though we're at the top of the food chain, we're still a part of nature. It's really easy to forget that, when we're flying all over the world, and advancing as a species to such a degree, that we can control many aspects of our lives. Within our modern world, it seems like we've evolved past our connection with nature, but we never will, and this pandemic is the proof of that. Our scientists conjure up drugs to fight these viruses, but nature always seems to get a good swipe at us in the process. Our control over these sorts of things has serious limitations. It bothers us, this lack of control. Every now & then, nature seems to want to teach us a lesson in who's really in charge.

With the coronavirus, most of us really despise this sense of uncertainty. We still do not know for sure if this virus is natural or man-made, but most scientists (globally) are leaning hard towards natural. In recent years, it's pretty obvious we've not been respecting (or good stewards of) our environment. We as human beings, don't seem to be overly concerned about kicking the solutions to our environmental problems into high gear. It could be, that nature is.

Obsessing over this pandemic, however, is not a healthy thing to do. Many people are, partly because of the way the media is obsessing over it. Everyone is a little OCD, that's normal, but it can so easily become extreme if people's anxiety levels stay too high, for far too long. I'm concerned that we may have an entire generation of germaphobes on our hands, if we're not careful. As Howie Mandel would say, welcome to his world.

While there may be important lessons for us to learn from all of this, the main thing right now is that we all keep our health & spirits up as much as possible. Stay positive, stop stressing, get better quality sleep. This new chapter in our lives is very surreal, but we will get through it. A big part of the reason why so many feel anxious right now, is this feeling of loss of control.

The truth is, we've never had complete control of our lives, and we never will. That's just part of the charm that is our time on this Earth. If we did have complete control, we'd all die of boredom. Dealing with adversity is how we grow, our character is generated mainly from it. Keeping this in mind, will help all of this make a little more sense. When things make sense, our anxiety tends to melt away.

Recently, we're all discovering that this is turning out to be much more of a long-term and ongoing situation than we first believed. This means we now have to start learning to live with this virus long-term, similar to the flu and common cold.

One major factor which greatly affects our overall stress and anxiety levels in life, is how free we are in our country. The global Human Freedom Index ranks our overall level compared to other nations in the world. This level greatly affects our daily overall stress and anxiety, and therefore our overall health. While we will never have complete control over our lives, we definitely do have some, and this is one area of life that we really should care a great deal about, especially for the sake of our children.

Our freedom is NOT a right-wing vs left-wing thing. It's NOT about political tribes. This is about not losing our fundamental rights as human beings. It's about not wanting to live in countries that are quickly becoming similar to, let's be honest here, communist China. A country where censorship, oppression, and the ruling class reign supreme.

The freedom movement that is currently spreading across the globe with incredible speed and ferocity, will end when and if we're all convinced that this will not happen in our country, because we as human beings will never stop fighting for our fundamental rights. Until they are returned back to us, and our countries are free once again. No country is 100% free, like most things in life, it's a spectrum.

Of course there are laws which should be followed, but we have historically (in Canada, for example) been extremely free in comparison to other countries, and the vast majority of us obviously want this to continue. This means that the truckers, along with tens of thousands of other protesters, are speaking for most of us. This global freedom movement is happening because we want to live in, and leave our children with a country that is not heavily oppressed by tyrannical rule.

Let's face it, we're not fully alive unless we're free, and there is an intense form of anger and anxiety that is also present in our body when we're living an oppressed, heavily controlled, and unjust lifestyle. Subconsciously, AND consciously, we know it's not right, and it bothers us right to the core of our soul, no matter which "wing" or political party we belong or subscribe to. We're all getting a taste of what slavery and segregation is really like. It's actually probably not a horrible thing that we're experiencing this (for a short time), because now we're beginning to have more of an appreciation for what slavery was, and is actually like.

We've temporarily given many of our rights away for this crisis, some governments have taken even more (give an inch & they take a mile), and now many simply don't want to give them back. And for reasons we're not quite sure of. People are starting to worry that this may be the beginning of some kind of global communist takeover or movement. This sounds far-fetched, but that doesn't mean that it's not the reality to some degree. A few of these "conspiracy theories" have in fact already turned into realities during this pandemic.

This is why there is such strong support for the truckers and other protesters in Canada, and around the world. The best and quickest way for governments to solve this problem, is to give people concrete and transparent plans and dates for removing these mandates, (which many provinces in my country have already done!). Otherwise, people will logically assume that something far more nefarious and permanent is going on here. Possibly even very high-up and powerful influences from outside of our own countries.

There are now "Canada-like" freedom convoys being planned and/or are happening in at least 30 other countries and rising (including the US), so it's not just Canadians who now feel that something is seriously not right here. The entire world is now waking up to this reality.

It's extremely healthy for us, ALL of us, to feel like we have some control over our destiny, and we do. But we have to forge this destiny, it will not happen automatically, or be handed to us on a silver platter. Especially if too many of us are distracted with other things, or are simply too complacent. This may create a bit of extra stress in the short-term, but living in free societies from then on, is more than worth the price of admission.

In fact, in the minds of most protesters in Ottawa, this was more of a CELEBRATION of freedom and patriotism than it was a protest (before things started getting too intense). Virtually EVERYONE who went down to our capital city of Ottawa for a visit felt this way. This is why in the beginning it was more than safe to bring their children along. It was more EXCITING and JOYFUL than it was stressful. I mean let's face it, who doesn't love freedom?

Because excitement eats stress for breakfast, there is nothing MORE exciting, and LESS stressful than peacefully fighting for a righteous cause that you really believe in. And because these freedom fighters were doing this mainly for their children's futures, why not have them take part in the excitement? It was an excellent life lesson for them!

This pandemic has been rough on all of us, but I am personally extremely proud of my fellow Canadians, along with the citizens of ALL countries, who are standing up for their rights and not being complacent. This also includes many if not most of the government leaders, who are now listening to the voices of the majority of people in their jurisdictions. It's becoming increasingly clear that segregation and trampling on people's rights were never, and will never be good tools to use in this, or any other global crisis.

Thankfully, we're all starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we've all grown from this experience. We will never have complete unity in any democratic society, but it should ALWAYS be the ultimate goal to strive for. Yes, it may slow things down a bit when it comes to ramming through major changes, but the massive advantages to democracy completely outweigh the disadvantages. That won't be the way a dictator sees it, but virtually everyone else will. And by far the biggest advantage of democracy, is the dramatically lower overall stress level of the VAST majority of citizens in these societies.