How I handle stress and stay happy

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I’m not a naturally “easy-going” or “laid back” guy…quite the opposite. I love to create (duh, musician) and I’m constantly trying to achieve greatness in everything I do. However, this type of energy can definitely be crippling and stressful. Over the years I’ve learned a lot of tips, some simple and some complicated, in order to combat stress and stay happy. These are all things that work for ME, they may work for you or they may not. HERE WE GO!

1. Start the day off laughing…..The road to positivity is easy, just laugh! I like watching reruns of The Office, Psych, Arrested Development, etc. while I eat my breakfast. This ensures that I’m starting the day off with laughter and happiness, rather than something that could potentially bring me down. That means no email, no returning phone calls, or doing work until I’m done eating. Build a foundation of positivity to combat whatever might come your way as the day progresses.

2. Eat breakfast….I know lots of people think breakfast is over-rated or they just don’t have enough time. Well, guess again because it’s absolutely essential. And don’t start it off with something sugary or loaded with carbs, that’s just setting yourself up for a crash as the day progresses. Eggs, full fat yogurt, etc.

3. Lift weights…..I’m not going to get into the science of why lifting is great, but I’ll tell you what, it’s great for me. Goal setting, concentration, watching my body develop. It’s truly my own efforts coming to fruition day after day, and nothing is more rewarding.

4. Surround yourself with positive people….this is SO important I can’t stress it enough. Negativity is contagious and we all know that misery loves company, so that being said…remove it! Ben Jon, our producer and one of my mentors, is one of the most positive people I know. I’ve never seen him in a bad mood or truly upset. Even when I called to tell him his studio was broken into, he maintained such composure and positivity it just blew me away.

5. Work smarter, not harder…I think the American dream has convinced us that we need to work harder and tougher in order to get ahead 100% of the time. I definitely agree that working hard is important, but at what cost? I could easily sit in front of a notepad with my guitar for 6 hours every single day hoping that I’ll write the next “Born to Run” or I can spend an allotted amount of time to writing and then go on and live my life. The creativity and inspiration will happen naturally and on it’s own, don’t force it. That being said, I know a lot of people are 9-5 ers and have no choice, in that case, I suggest you read Tim Ferris’s the 4 Hour Work Week . It will change your life, TRUST ME…remember it’s quality not quantity, remember that.

6. Read…..I try to read a book a week. Whether it’s for pleasure or business related, I love to read. It allows me to take my mind off of things but I also get a lot of inspiration from the most random things.

7. Nap/Meditate….if you have the time to nap, do it! And don’t exceed 20-25 minutes, because you’ll start going into your REM cycle and mess your body up. TRUST ME. If you can’t nap, meditation is an awesome option. You don’t need to be at a waterfall surrounded by nature, it can be as simple as sitting at your desk and taking 15-20 deep breaths. Focus on clearing your mind with each breath and try to block out any distractions.

8. Get some sun…I love the sun. What else in this world supplies such euphoria by just “being there”…well many things, but the sun is the best! Even if you’re a 9-5’er you can always take your lunch break outside. Roll up those sleeves, and bask in that yellow glory for as long as you can.

9. Have your favorite CD in the car….this is simple but works for me! There’s a sense of excitement every time I start driving because I know I’m going to be listening to my favorite music.

10. MY DOGS….boy do I love my dogs. In fact, I just love dogs in general. A lot of my students have dogs, so I’m around them all the time! My dogs are the perfect “de-stressers” because they never judge or hold grudges, they just know how to love and be happy without anybody teaching them. There are a lot of things we can learn from these amazing creatures!

11. Eat healthy…”if you are what you eat and you don’t know what you’re eating…than you don’t know who you are.” That’s the damn truth. Stop eating processed foods, sugar, or trans-fats. Every time you put these substances into your body you’re not only making yourself fat and unhealthy, but you’re altering your chi. Am I getting too deep on you? Too bad! The wrong food can be toxic and completely disrupt the positive flow of your mind and soul. I prefer high quality meat, vegetables, nuts, etc…essentially try to eat as close to mother natures “buffet” as possible and you’ll notice a huge difference in every aspect of your life.

12. Help someone out….every day of your life you should try and do one little thing for someone. Something as simple as letting them go at a green light before you or holding the door open for someone else. Take it a step further and help out your friends in any way you can. My friend Ryan at Enfuse Fitness is always giving me advice, so I do everything I can to help his business grow. I believe in what he does and I want to see him succeed! Do these things and expect nothing in return but kudos for your soul.

13. Write a grateful log….I got this one from Charles Poliquin . It’s so easy; before you go to bed, have a notepad by your side and write down 5-10 things you’re grateful/happy about in your life. It could be broad topics or simple things like, “What a great rehearsal!”  or “I wrote a new song!’ Doing this before bed, you’re ensuring that you fall asleep happy and appreciative for everything you have in your life. Just like waking up happy is important, so is going to bed happy.

14. Stop working 2-3 hours before bed….no emails, cell phones, work, etc. In order to get ready for bed you need to have proper sleep hygiene and part of that is allowing your mind to calm down. It’s going to have a hard time doing that when you’re stressing about work or finishing a deadline right before hand.

15. Get a great nights sleep….this is one of the most important things for my well being! Assuming we’re not on the road or playing a show, I try to be in bed nice and early, no if and’s or butt’s. My friends know that when I get ready for bed it’s MY TIME! I turn off my phone, no computer, I just watch some more reruns of my favorite shows to laugh, and start winding down.

16. Glass half full, not empty….there is ALWAYS something positive in any negative situation. Sometimes it’s hard to find the light, but it’s always there, we just don’t know how to look. Check back to tip #4 and learn from positive people. Sometimes it’s as simple as smiling more, or laughing more!

I hope this helps! Please comment on our Facebook Page