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The following article is written by Ben Angel, author of the book, Unstoppable: A 90-Day Plan to Biohack Your Mind and Body for Success. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound. And be sure to order The Unstoppable Journal, the only journal of its kind based on neuroscience, psychology and biohacking to help you reach your goals.
Our team recently surveyed more than 50,000 entrepreneurs to see what was keeping them from becoming peak performers, and the results were staggering. The majority were not only overly depressed, stressed and overwhelmed, but they also suffered from various gastrointestinal disorders and were getting poor sleep. At the same time, most of them felt anxious and failed to exercise a minimum of five days a week.
According to the latest research from the American Institute of Stress, the most chronic physical symptoms of stress are fatigue, headaches and upset stomach. These should be our first red flags telling us we have to discontinue on the path to ruin. But sadly, most of us punch on through and take an over-the-counter drug to deaden the symptoms, not understanding what it’s doing to our bodies in the long run.
If I could give one piece of advice to everyone, it’s to take symptoms of stress seriously and begin to listen to your body and its needs.
This isn’t all doom and gloom; there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Below are proven strategies that can help you take back the years you’ve lost and become the person you were meant to be. And along the way, you might even discover more about you and how your journey will be different from anyone else’s.
Exercise and Mindful Movement
It seems intuitive to move your body when you’ve been sitting in front of your computer for eight hours straight or troubleshooting issues into the late hours. Still, trends are showing that we find ourselves more and more distracted from any healthy activity.
Studies from Scripps Health show our screen time has increased to approximately 11 hours a day! That means our eyes and minds are plugged in and tuned out for most of our waking life. We understand the distinct negative factors like blue light affecting sleep and causing eye strain; however, the Scripps study found the gray matter in the brain, the part that grows new synapses when we experience new knowledge or information, is atrophying. We need physical and emotional experiences to keep our gray matter healthy.
Some of you reading this will want to jump-start your exercise regimen with an intense program, which is beneficial. However, what if you lack the energy to do so? There are activities you can build into your week that can make a difference. Taking 10,000 steps in your day can not only burn off calories but give your brain and body the necessary reset it needs to decompress from stress.
If you’re ready to ramp things up, then High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) could be for you. It’s become a popular science-based fitness program with thousands of at-home video routines ranging from seven minutes to longer than half an hour, all touting benefits that last longer than the workout itself. It’s based on studies that show that when the body is put through intense spurts of energy in a relatively short amount of time, with quick recovery times, the activity triggers your metabolism and keeps it burning for hours after you’ve completed the set. With most people saying that time is the reason they can’t exercise, HIIT seems to be their answer.
Meditation and Journaling
You can find hundreds of apps online that help you meditate and recenter your mind. However, did you know you can also do active meditation, which can give you the same effects? Active meditation is doing an activity without judging it. This could be as simple as going for a walk, washing the dishes, coloring or something more strenuous like biking, rowing or running. As long as you’re focused on your breath, not judging or putting thought into the activity, your brain will turn off the amygdala, or center of emotions, to help it calm down and find peace.
Journaling can do the same thing as meditation. People who journal daily report less stress and find more creativity. Journaling also helps to set goals and organize thoughts. (You can learn more about the journal I designed that factors in both psychology and biochemistry so you are optimized for peak physical and mental well-being right here.)
Nootropics are supplements and other substances that may improve cognitive function — mainly executive functions, memory, creativity or motivation — in healthy individuals. You may be familiar with several of them already, like caffeine, ashwagandha and L-theanine. There are many more that can help boost your brain function, giving you more cognitive energy and drive. Qualia, for instances, is creating quality stacks of nootropics for various cognitive needs.
If there was one thing that really jumped out in the survey, it was more than 61 percent of respondents saying they crave carbohydrates. It’s the first go-to food we want when we become stressed. Cutting out refined carbohydrates for more complex carbohydrates like dark green vegetables, and ridding our diet of sugar, can reset your body’s inflammation to more manageable levels.
Finding Inflamatory Markers
Our survey demonstrated many signs of inflammatory markers:
Forty-seven percent suffer from any of the following two or more times per week, i.e. constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, etc.
Thirty-four percent have chronic pain.
Fifty-seven percent feel chronic fatigue.
Seventy percent feel anxious.
Why do we need to know if our body is inflamed? Inflammation is the first telltale sign that your body is fighting an underlying stressor that may cause damage if unexamined. The five established signs of inflammation are heat, pain, redness, swelling and loss of function. Most people run to the drugstore to find something to ease the symptoms without ever looking more in-depth into why they are suffering in the first place.
According to Scripps Health, “The most common way to measure inflammation is to conduct a blood test for C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which is a marker of inflammation. Doctors also measure homocysteine levels to evaluate chronic inflammation. Finally, physicians test for HbA1C — a measurement of blood sugar — to assess damage to red blood cells.”
Now we have ways to test for these inflammatory markers in the privacy of your own home, and often less expensive than having to go to a lab or doctor. You can find home-testing kits online (more about those below) that can detect most inflammatory markers. However, you will need a doctor to go over the results and find the necessary protocol.
Home-testing kits are becoming more widely used in functional-medicine circles, helping patients get precise data on the causation to their acute and chronic illnesses. By being able to do many types of medical-grade tests within the comfort of your home, keeping costs to a minimum, patients can send their functional-medicine doctors their results, at which point a comprehensive and personalized protocol can be put into place.
Many of our symptoms are due to deficiencies in essential minerals and vitamins, hormonal and dietary changes and food sensitivitives. Home-test kits can help you learn what you’re deficient in.
Related: 4 Ways to Boost Your Immunse System
The bottom line is, we shouldn’t have to get to these staggering results to change. By embracing what others have gone through before us, we can create a new paradigm shift in our health and well-being to take on our goals and dreams.
Are you ready to become unstoppable?
Visit www.areyouunstoppable.com and take your free 60-second online quiz now. By answering a series of simple questions, my software will analyze your results and provide you with a comprehensive report that will indicate your identity type and lead you to the tools and tips you need to close that gap between who you are and who you could be. Take the quiz to get started!