by AIS Fellow Cynthia Ackrill, MD

Finding peace in today’s fast-paced world is vital to our health and well-being. As I read the article, Losing Weight in the Anti-Diet Age, in the New York Times, I was struck by the relevance to the world of stress management.

Of course, finding peace and mastering stress management is physiologically critical to losing weight. (So frustrating…but you are wired to prepare for famine!) But more importantly, there has been a subtle shift in the conversations and even marketing of both diet and stress management.

We are soooo over feeling guilty, deprived and hopeless after multiple failed diet attempts based on the science-(or media?)-of-the-moment fad.  And similarly, we’ve had enough of the stress whining and ineffective Band-Aid approaches.

Yes, We Are Stressed and Finding Peace Amidst the Chaos is Tough… Now What?!

Bring on the real solutions based in real science! Beyond the discussions of how to do more with less, balance crazy demands, lead through change, etc., my super-smart, high-achieving clients reveal cravings for a sense of peace, a sense of being OK, in complicated, overstuffed lives.

The good news for dieting AND stress management is the shift to FITNESS!

Focusing on what makes you healthy, whole, and strong will make you more stress resilient (and a healthier eater!). Healthy cells support healthy thinking and healthy choices. To create healthy cells, increase your self-care. This will serve your life in multiple ways and positively impact the lives of those who matter to you.

Self-Care is Ethical Practice!

Self-care strengthens you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It increases your ability to connect, to be healthy, productive, and happy. Self-care is not a luxury or indulgence.  So, put it on your own to-do list! Self-care is good leadership, responsible “adult-ing,” better parenting, and critical to your well-being and capacity to contribute.

Fitness of mind, body, and spirit is also key to finding peace in chaotic times.

Let’s Talk Awareness

‘Mindfulness’ is a resilience skill that builds your ability to find calm, clarity, safety, flexibility, connection, and hope, despite the circumstances. It is not some mysterious destination of equanimity for Zen monks only, but simply a practiced skill of awareness that empowers you to move from reactive to responsive, mentally and emotionally.

Physical fitness supports your stamina as well as the health of those brain cells needed for emotional and mental strength. And spiritually, you are actually wired to connect to survive! Greater purpose and community intrinsically motivate humans. (So…why do we tend to withdraw when reaching out is one of our greatest powers?)

Of course, you already have a laundry list of things you could/should be doing better to be more fit. Let go of that guilt! And take small steps to learn what you need to feel strong in each arena of your life. Take an inventory then find tiny shifts to NOURISH YOUR BEST SELF. This is a marathon of tortoises, not a sprint to well-being. Your cells notice each minuscule step forward.

Questions to Finding Peace:

  1. What do you NEED to feel physically fit? More sleep? Another stretching session? Some veggies between pints of Halo?
  2. Mentally: what are you brain cells craving? Breaks? Perhaps more creative time?
  3. What makes you emotionally strong? Think of your best bounce-backs: what/who gave you power? What habits keep you grounded? If you can’t think of any, contact me asap!
  4. What connections matter most to you? What habits keep you feeling connected?

Brainstorm a list of ideas and PLAY with one or two in coming weeks. Then, notice how you feel and play some more. Tiny shifts can make a big difference!

Next, change the conversation in your head and among your friends/family/colleagues, and you will help everyone leverage the strengths and powers of being adaptable humans. So, talk less about circumstances and more about individual strengths, creativity, compassion, courage, and self-care.

In conclusion, learn what nurtures your mind, body, and spirit, and find your power to meet challenges with grounded values and priorities, wisdom, and resilience. Create a healthier, happier life one step at a time. Finding peace in the chaos really is possible!