"}
Words

Stress Struggles

Learning to pay joyful attention

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lately, it seems as though everything sets your teeth on edge. The neighbors are way too noisy. Customer service sucks. Your in-laws are a bunch of ingrates. And your coworkers? Let’s not go there.

You’re over just about everything: overworked, overloaded and overwhelmed. But when you read The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living by Amit Sood, M.D., M.Sc, you might start to feel better.

In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible not to feel strain. At least that’s how it seems. It only gets worse. As we “get hijacked by impulses, infatuation and fear,” the brain wants to “escape the present moment,” and the mind thinks everything’s a danger. Sood says we “struggle with what is,” which is the very definition of stress.

Part of the reason for the struggle is that, when you’re awake, your brain operates in one of two ways: default or focused. You’ve undoubtedly experienced both.

In focused mode, you’re so immersed in the task at hand that you forget about almost everything surrounding you. In default mode, your brain wanders like an idle shopper, moseying from problem to worry to idea, spinning and projecting future scenarios. The key is to teach yourself to stay on “focused” mode and out of the “black hole” of meandering default.

Part of that can be done with “attention training,” which has many facets and “speaks to the child” in you; and by “refining interpretations,” which appeals to the adult within.

Sood writes about learning to pay “joyful attention,” which helps with calming and keeps your mind occupied so it doesn’t wander. Learn CRAVE, patience, and CALF when relating to others. Free your prejudices in order to “open to the world.” Accept that nothing is perfect and there are times when forgiveness isn’t required. Begin each day with thankfulness. Learn pride in work. And remember that compassion for others should extend to compassion for yourself.

When an institution like the Mayo Clinic attaches its name to a book, you kind of expect it’d be totally serious stuff, right?

Nope. Sood has quite a bit of fun in this book, which certainly supports its title and joyful cover.

But first, The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living opens in a classroom, then turns to the science of the brain, which serves as a nice reminder but—since bookstore shelves are packed with brain books—might be unnecessary for some readers.

That’s O.K., though, because what comes next is worth it: Sood teaches us to “train” our minds to stress when appropriate, live with acceptance and appreciate others. This, too, might be repetitious for readers who’ve filled up on motivational-type books like this one, though I took great delight in this particular handling of the subject.

I also liked that Sood didn’t pretend this is easy, but reducing stress and lessening worry sure sounds appealing—and that’s enough for me. If it is for you, too, then The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living is a book you can really sink your teeth into.

ICU
More Words...
March
How peaceful protests can make a difference

Across Cascadia, there are reports of peaceful demonstrations happening almost daily. The Women’s March on Bellingham on Sat., Jan. 21 drew record crowds, there have been several rallies at the Peach Arch border crossing in support of immigrants, and a March for Science is in the planning…

more »
Beyond Protest
Kevin Ranker completes his sermon

Surveying the ashes of the November election, the normally ebullient and thoughtful senator from the islands was nearly speechless with despair.

“How could I have gotten this so wrong?” state Sen. Kevin Ranker asked himself. “Could it be that my beliefs about social justice and human…

more »
The Unsettlers
Nothing simple about it

Journalist Mark Sundeen’s previous book was about a man who has successfully lived without money for the past 15-plus years. The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America is also a study of idealism and the struggle to live an authentic life.

Sundeen follows three…

more »
Events
Today
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Ubu Roi

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Wild Things

9:30am|Interurban Trail

Spanish Storytime

10:30am|Lynden Library

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Magnolia Street and Cornwall Avenue

Weird Washington

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Friday Night Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Whatcom Humane Society Wine Social

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

PhotoLUSH 2017

6:00pm|Lairmont Manor

Friday Night Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Always…Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

And I Remember

7:00pm|Village Books

King John

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

International Guitar Night

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

James Hunter Six

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Borealis Wind Quintet

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Cupid's Arrow Final Weekend

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

IGN Cascadia Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Ubu Roi

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Weird Washington

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

PhotoLUSH 2017

6:00pm|Lairmont Manor

Always…Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

King John

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

Cupid's Arrow Final Weekend

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Snow Play Day and Survival Skills

8:00am|Mt. Baker Ski Area

Children's Literature Conference

9:00am|Performing Arts Center

What's New in Organic Gardening

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Plant Society Ramble

9:30am|Maple Creek Loop

UFO Primer

10:00am|Syre Hall

FiberFest 2017

10:00am|La Conner Middle/High School

Intro to Ancestry

10:00am|Ferndale Library

Winter Trail Run Series

10:00am|BBMX Park

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Smelt Run

10:00am|La Conner Middle School

Kids Can Cook

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Washington Beer Open House

12:00pm|Whatcom and Skagit counties

An all-season outdoor expo

1:00pm

Tax Help

1:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Weird Washington

1:00pm|Lynden Library

Raising Pigs

1:30pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Peace Corps Revisited

3:00pm|Lynden Library

Geology Underfoot

3:00pm|Deming Library

Starry Night Chamber Orchestra

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Whatcom Writes

4:00pm|Village Books

Wishes for Our Stars Gala

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Varsity Vocals

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Comedy Fundraiser

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Boating Center Fundraiser

7:00pm|Elks Club

Light in the Night Gala

7:00pm|Settlemyer Hall

Wetzel's World

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Bayshore Symphony Winter Concert

7:30pm|Central Lutheran Church

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Sunday
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Bayshore Symphony Winter Concert

7:30pm|Central Lutheran Church

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Refugee Talk

2:00pm|Christ the Servant Lutheran Church

Northwest Cancer Summit

2:00pm|Bellingham Golf and Country Club

Sting and Piano Chamber Concert

3:00pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

The Tao of Raven

4:00pm|Village Books

Making time with Oscar

4:30pm

The Irish Rovers

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

see our complete calendar »

MBT Rovers Bellingham Technical College Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Northwood Steak and Crab Bellingham Farmer’s Market