Hey Marcey! If I had to narrow down ten things to purchase to improve my health, what would they be?
I'm glad you asked! Here are ten things I could live without, but don't want to.
Sleeping headphones*. Sleep is the #1 thing I work on with clients if they have issues. It doesn't matter how good your nutrition or exercise habits are, if you don't have a good sleep, you can't optimize the other two. The effects of poor quality or lack of sleep are so significant, entire books are written on it, so I'll stick to the products. I am a light sleeper. We have a white noise machine by our bed, but it doesn't drown out my husband's occasional snoring or sing or talk me to sleep. I used AcousticSheep SleepPhones* for several years (see my review of the Classic version) and recently tested out the Simple version (review here). I opted to return them for the Effortless. Key features – they lie flat against your head, work with any meditation or music app, and double bonus for being able to run with them!
Sleep mask. Any light can be disruptive to sleep. The photoreceptors on our skin can detect light in our room, and pure darkness puts us in the best state to sleep. Besides our black-out blinds and covering smoke alarm lights with electrical tape, I wear a sleep mask. This keeps me from waking up or disrupting my sleep (even unconsciously) when my husband comes to bed or gets up to go to the bathroom. My mask of choice is the super affordable Dream Essentials Contoured Eye Mask (Get it on Amazon*). It doesn't lay flat on your face (it's a bra for your eyes!), It is adjustable and lightweight.
Blue-ray blocking glasses.* Okay, this is the last thing for sleep, but do you see how obsessed I am with getting good quality? The blue rays from our device screens disrupt our circadian rhythm and suppress our melatonin. This leads to poor quality sleep and longer sleep latency (amount of time to fall asleep). You can now get prescription glasses with blue-ray blocking lenses or buy video gaming glasses. Gamers use these glasses to help with eye fatigue (do you know we also blink less when looking at a screen?).
Meditation app. Calm.com has hundreds of meditations from 2-30 minutes, sleep stories, music tracks, and masterclasses. This is how I started with meditating – just two minutes at a time. Now I have a streak of almost 1000 days. I especially like the sleep meditations (I lied, another sleep reference!).
Coffee alternatives. I like to drink all day at my computer. If I have coffee after 2pm it seriously affects my sleep (good grief, again!). I cut down on the caffeine with Teeccino*, a coffee alternative that brews just like coffee and tastes delicious. I make a half and half version of coffee and Teeccino every morning. My two favorite teas are the Good Earth Sweet and Spicy* caffeine (for mornings and early afternoon) and decaf versions. I am a total diva with these and you will find them in every bag I carry plus my car, so I am never without.
Magnesium. I don't recommend a lot of supplements, but feel entirely safe recommending magnesium. About half the US and European populations are deficient, and we need it for over 600 reactions in the body. Taking it in the evening can help with sleep and contribute to a healthy poo in the morning. I like Natural Calm* brand and mix a teaspoon in with my home-brewed Kombucha every evening (#KombuchaHippie).
Bike desk. I use a standing desk for most of the day. Still, when my legs get tired, I'm a watching participant in a meeting, am reading a book or article, or just need some movement, I use my FitBike. This affordable bike at less than $300 can help you be productive with work without needing to change your clothes, get special shoes, or even break into a sweat. Watch my fitbike review. To purchase, please visit FITDESK and use the code MARCEYFREEMAT to get a free mat on all bikes, under desk products, and desks! ( Get it on Amazon* ).
Tahini. Okay. This may seem a little strange, but I'm adding Tahini because I eat it almost every day. Tahini is a light, nutty paste made from toasted, ground sesame seeds. The consistency is like natural peanut butter and it's used in a lot of Mediterranean and Asian dishes. It is the main ingredient in hummus. It is not low calorie or low fat, but it is very nutritious. About 50% of the fat comes from healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. I use it on my vegetables for healthy fat and protein, as a spread on mini tortilla pizzas and to mix with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for a salad dressing.
Pull-up bar. I did not have defined arms until I was in my 40s. Seriously, look at my pictures from doing Ironman Triathlons and hard-core 24-hour Adventure Races in my 30s, and you'll see some tone, but not definition. Diet has a large part to play in getting leaner, but I attribute the pull-up for my arms. Even when I'm giving an Email Extinguisher workshop, someone will raise their hand and say “great inbox stuff, but how do we get arms like yours?” I use my pull-up bar every day as a trigger when I go into my closet. For the full story, watch the video below.
Heart variability tracker. This is an advanced technique, but I track my heart rate variability (different than heart rate) to keep my autoimmune disease under control and recognize when I'm starting to overreach or get stressed before the symptoms become apparent. I use the Oura ring, which is also one of the best sleep trackers on the market. I've also used the Elite HRV and Sweetbeat Apps.
There you have it, my ten products I wouldn't want to live without for my health. Let me know if you try them out!
*denotes an affiliate link where I make a few extra coins at no extra cost to you.
Trying to buy a gift that doesn't result in clutter but is unique and customized?
Have gifts that you need to wrap, but your attempt looks like a preschooler did it? (Ok, I'm talking about me here). Does DIY turn into OOPS?
TaskRabbit and Fiverr to the rescue!
TaskRabbit is like Craig's list but without the scaries. Instead of wondering if the person showing up is going to be reliable or is a descendant of Big Foot, you can hire and pay through TaskRabbit. You'll be able to see references and ratings of the people you are considering. Everything is done through its platform to make it easy.
I had one client who used TaskRabbit to take down all of her holiday decorations and put them away. Another used TaskRabbit to be a runner at her child's birthday party so she could focus on her son instead of replenishing cupcakes and punch.
Fiverr is another website to outsource tasks from the professional to the personal. It's called Fiverr because each gig is $5, but the work might be 2 or more gigs.
Popular professional services include:
translation of video
I've used Fiverr for press releases, making PDFs editable (I paid $11 rather than buying the Adobe Suite) and book editing and formatting. What I really like them for is for creating personalized gifts.
I had a ‘celebrity' record a special message for my husband for his 50th birthday.
I had someone photoshop my brother Todd into a scene from Baywatch for his birthday (yes, I could have done this myself, but it wouldn't have looked as good, and my time is worth more than $12).
I also had my niece's photo turned into a cartoon Rapunzel for $12 – two gigs + a tip.
Have a cousin who likes Elvis and Brazil? There's a Brazilian Elvis that can sing her a custom message.
One of my favorite uses is to have someone do vacation research. There are many people who will create customized travel itineraries or will be your personal assistant when you get there. There's one that will plan your entire Disney World vacation starting at $10!
Get creative. Save time. Stop putting off those tasks you keep moving forward to the next day. What's the first task you can think of to outsource?
Last year I started following Bagby, a company that describes itself as digital wellness with a human soul. The founder, Juan Sanchez, has two degrees in digital and social media marketing. He decided to stop becoming part of the distraction while at the same time, take his relationship with his wife to the next level. Bagby encourages people to put down their phones to not just reduce screen time but increase HUMAN time.
Do you know what Phubbing is?
I bet you've phubbed someone. Or someone phubbed you. My friend, who is a recruiter, even said she was phubbed in an interview!
Phubbing – Phone snubbing. When people look at their phone and snub the person right in front of them.
Phubbing drives me crazy. Even the sight of a phone on the table makes me anxious. My husband, who is 50, notices that the majority of his millennial friends always have their phones on the table, face-up, glancing at them as notifications appear (yes, I know people who are not millennials do this too, but the majority of his friends of that age do it without exception). He puts his on the table sometimes, face-down, because it's uncomfortable in his pocket. I have a dear friend who always has her phone out in case the school calls, but then I noticed one day that when her entire family was with us, she was the only one who had her phone on the table. I don't blame her. The dopamine drip is strong.
To me, it feels like they are saying “I'm here at this table with you, but something may important may happen on this device and I can't miss it. Not even for 30 minutes.”
Habit. Telepressure. Learned behavior. Is it an addiction or an impulse?
Several studies report phubbing leads to negative feelings, lack of connection, an increase in anxiety, a decrease in marital satisfaction, and more. It also threatens our four fundamental needs of belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control.
It's such a distraction that it sucks the enjoyment out of an event, even when it's not directed at me personally. This is why I think every concert venue, comedy club, movie theater, and school should invest in Yondr.
My husband, who pretty much has a tablet or phone with him at all times, agreed to my experiment and put one up beside our front door on New Year's Eve. We had two other couples coming to join us for a raucous game of who could be the most horrible person at Cards Against Humanity.
What happened as they arrived was very interesting. We asked our guests to put their phones in the holder, and the first couple, Sara and Billy, did it right away. When the next couple arrived, TB put both of her phones in the holder. Her spouse wanted to keep his in his pocket. I told him it was not an option, and the peer pressure forced him to get rid of it.
As the night progressed, he joked a few times, “if we had our phones, we could look it up.” And he's right! There were several times that we would have asked Siri or searched for a video, photo, or something else, but we didn't.
Guess what happened?
At the end of the night, none of us could remember what we even wanted to look up to begin with. That funny video we were going to share or the news story we had to read didn't even matter.
When I asked one of the couples the next morning how they felt about it, they said it was a little weird at first, but then they liked it. They paid more attention to the people in the room and weren't distracted. Upon further reflection, ten days later, Billy Alspaugh sent me this message.
Looking back on the evening, I was surprised, and in hindsight, appalled, at my initial reptilian, base response to not want to give up my phone. It set off bells and whistles that don't conjure up rainbows and unicorns.
I quickly reminded myself that I'm trying to embrace “outside my comfort zone” and mentally moved this situation into that column.
I found that I was unnerved and slightly discombobulated the first few times I was unsure about something and instinctually began to reach for my “googler”. That began to go away after false start #2.
It was interesting to me how big a deal being device-free was. In reality, we just went a few hours without them. We most likely could/would have passed the same amount of time without anyone going “to the pocket” without drawing any attention.
I thought that the joint “team effort” brought a sense of unity to the proceedings that wouldn't have existed with devices on hand. For example, working together to remember band names, song titles, year of album release, etc. that otherwise would have been searched for.
To that same end, I know I felt a sense of resolve and found joy in being able to remember/find things mentally that I, by default, would have just farmed out to the interweb. Strangely I felt like a kid again, way back before pocket supercomputing, when going to grab an encyclopedia was too much hassle. It was somewhere near this realization, probably early to mid-game, that I couldn't have cared less about my phone anymore.
I must admit that the amount of time I have spent since New Year's Eve thinking about my relationship with my device has been somewhat shocking to me. My wife Sara has been practicing removing her device from her space, both in work and sleep. I never really understood what her aim was until New Year's Eve.
I am making an effort to be more cognizant of how dependent I am to my device daily and to remove it whenever possible. Small things like turning it off vs. making it silent when I need total focus on a task truly makes a difference. I have quite a ways to go, but for now, I'm taking baby steps.
My husband loved the experiment so much that he wanted to keep the phone holder on the wall and start a new habit of Phone-Free Fridays for 2020! Usually, I'm the one who wants to do something like that, so I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled that this was his idea. It's since moved to Phone Free Weekend Nights starting at 6pm.
I'll be buying more of these phone holders this year for my clients who allow distracted meetings. Why have a meeting if people aren't going to be present?
We need more people like Juan, more companies like Bagby, and more willing participants to go back to human-to-human interaction. This is all a social experiment, and I think sooner rather than later, we will all be practicing more analog and digital minimalism to establish a connection.
Where and when can you see yourself using a phone holder? When can you commit to not phubbing?
Marcey Rader is a speaker, coach, and author of productivity and health behaviors who wants to rid the world of phubbing. Check out her latest book to lead you down a path of presence, at www.workwellplaymore.com/books.
This year, I went to Starbucks and got my favorite iced coffee and then spent the afternoon in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel (fewer distractions than a coffee shop, cozy, and made me feel abundant). I went through my primer book, page by page, to see how I changed and what happened or didn't happen. My primer book is something that I look at almost every day and is taught by business coach Shauna Van Bogart. Unlike a static vision board, it is a living book. I have active pages I am writing in (a little like a journal) and have different page spreads for family, health, marriage, speaking, coaching, travel, etc.
My brother Todd flew in from Indiana, and we met the third member of our Cheer Squad, Lilly Ferrick, at Bean Traders coffee for Habanero Chocolate Lattes and shared our reflections. Tears were shed, fist bumps were given and lessons earned gave perspective.
The biggest lesson earned was hiring someone who was is skilled in one area and assuming it would transfer to another.
Which relationships strengthened the most? Lilly Ferrick and Janet Boudreau, my Vistage Chair.
Smartest business decision – hiring Jessica Coscia to help with my book PR and moving to LinkedIn only.
On the last Saturday of December, my husband and I went to Full Bloom Coffee for cinnamon cold brew (hmmm….I'm seeing a pattern I didn't realize!) to do our yearly reflections for business and personal. It was exceptional in that I wouldn't have known some of the things he shared or even thought to ask.
I love this exercise and encourage you to do it for yourself, with business colleagues, and with your family. It's enlightening and always a learning experience. When I reflect to someone, they may have a different opinion or a way to look at it. My friend Lilly was discussing her sabbatical, and I pointed out that if she worked for a company that they would have a specified time frame, they would pay her. This gave her an idea about mini-sabbaticals throughout the year. She changed my wording from a lesson learned to lesson earned, which I like much better.
It's not too late to do your reflections for the year, the holiday season, a vacation, or a party. If you don't know where to start, hit the lessons first. You earned them.
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