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.
I'm a big fan of the AcousticSheep SleepPhones, marketed as pajamas for your ears. When my CLASSIC version finally gave out after several years of almost-nightly use, rather than replace the cord, I decided to try the Simple wireless version and then switched to the Effortless.
20-hour rechargeable battery life (in the video I say 8 hours)
Six timer options
17 pre-recorded tracks
I'm returning these not because they don't stand up to the description, but solely for personal preference with the pre-recorded tracks. Check out the video for my opinion. *Note in the video I say Effortless at the end. This version is Simple.
Far too many of us are trapped in a vicious circle with no restorative sleep and we don’t even realize it. If you’re one of the nearly 50 percent of American workers kept awake at night by anxiety over work, you’re most likely feeling the effects. When anxiety about our jobs prevents us from getting the right amount of sleep, it carries over into the next morning. That feeling of listlessness and fogginess can make it difficult to keep up with all of the tasks we have to do at work each day. In turn, that means we can fall behind in our tasks, which leads to more anxiety. More anxiety means more trouble sleeping, and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
Even if stress and anxiety created by your job aren’t keeping you awake at night, chances are you’re still not getting the proper amount of sleep. That’s because our media-centric society and mobile technology have infiltrated every aspect of our lives. It’s far too easy to spend the last few minutes before going to bed scrolling through your social media pages or watching videos. As a result, we end up overstimulating our brains at a time when we should be giving them a chance to wind down and relax. Many of us also ignore the advice of doctors and stay up too late to binge watch TV shows or do other activities.
Can we power through it?
Although not getting enough sleep might seem like nothing more than a minor annoyance that we can simply “power through” the next day, the truth is, it’s a serious problem. Consistently failing to get the seven to nine hours of deep, restorative sleep we need each night does more than leave us feeling worn out the next day — it puts us at risk for health issues. Sleep is your opportunity to allow your body and mind to rest and recharge, and depriving your body and mind of that opportunity means they don’t have a chance to get some important work done. Bad sleep habits can open the door to health issues ranging from obesity to diabetes to heart disease. For this and many other reasons, practicing good sleeping habits is essential.
The most important sleep habit you can practice is getting enough hours of sleep, and being in bed at the same time every night. It’s also a good idea to unplug from electronic devices ahead of your bedtime to give your mind a chance to unwind. These and other tips for getting good, quality sleep are contained in the guide below, so review it and get out of the vicious circle that’s holding you back at work.
Tips For Restorative Sleep created by Virginia Spine Institute
High Performers can produce, no doubt about it. The amount of productivity and results that comes out of a high performer is impressive. Crank it out and getter done. Boo-yah. Drop the mic.
But like most things, there’s more to the story and something always deeper than the surface. The reality is others see our “on stage” not our “back stage”. People simply don’t see the toll that not resting is doing to us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Or at least yet.
This is a guest post by Bryan Paul Buckley.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 40 percent of all American adults are sleep-deprived, clocking significantly less than the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep per night. (Source: The Sleep Revolution by Adrianna Huffington)
My assumption, since this used to be me, is many high performers sleep far less than seven hours, especially of “quality sleep” on a consistent basis and simply don’t stop to rest. It’s a necessary evil.
The reality is many High Performers secret shame is they simply don’t know how to rest.
This is my confession. I’m Bryan Paul Buckley. I’m a high performer, and I don’t know how to rest.
And it’s also the confession of many others. We’re in this together if we’re honest.
We’re good at projecting everything is okay. And who will question us with the result we’re putting up?!
I feel like a high-performance car which looks great on the outside, even impressive on the inside but just don’t open the hood!
I constantly run my RPMs in the red and my gas tank on fumes all the while putting in cheap gas, avoiding maintenance, and God forbid I need a repair which then better be quick and cheap as possible.
Just get me back on the road, man! Can you relate?
HERE ARE FOUR INNER THOUGHTS THAT ACCOMPANY THE SECRET SHAME OF HIGH PERFORMING PROFESSIONALS:
High Performers are highly skilled at minimizing anything that slows them down. We say the following comments:
Rest is a waste of time
I don’t really need as much as everyone else
I’ll sleep when I’m dead (even Bon Jovi titled a song by that name!)
Sadly, it often results in mentally belittling others who do rest. We judge, and when we do, we feel better about ourselves as a result. Been there, done that? C’mon, man. I know there are more people out there doing this than me.
AVOID REST AT ALL COSTS
High Performers have a unique gift of always being busy. Every moment is calculated and used to produce results. Not slow down. And as a result, we’re always on the move.
We act like we’re allergic to rest or it’s the girl in high school that has a “great personality” your friend says you just have to meet. Uh… no thanks.
Sadly, we fill our schedule, so rest doesn’t even have a chance. I’ve mastered this one. I can fill my time to push rest out of even the realm of possibility. Who can question me with my results? (can you say masking?)
And I’ve paid the price for it. The Energizer Bunny who lost his energy only to finally figure out the Energizer Bunny actually uses rechargeable batteries. Who knew?
JUSTIFY REST AS OPTIONAL
I can tell myself half-truths all day long on why rest is optional for me. Here are some of my go-to statements then the actual full truth:
I have too much to do to rest (which ironically is my choice and I could choose to slow down and the world not end)
It’s my current season of life and won’t always be this way (but I’ve made it my way of life, not season of life)
I’m fine with what little rest I get right now (yeah, because I don’t know what being fully rested actually feels like)
The irony is no one seeing our “on stage” sees the mind games we play “back stage” nor would they really care. They may even like us better if we’re rested and not so driven all of the time. Imagine that.
But the truth is many High Performers are afraid of slowing down. Whoa. Now you just got personal. I’ve come to the point of realizing just how much of my identity has been deeply found in my ability to produce results. And I can’t produce results if I’m resting, right?But that flawed thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. I can rest; I’ve just not wanted to slow down. Why? I mean, at a heart level, why am I not stopping long enough to truly rest?I was afraid of what I would find if I slowed down. Here is my truth serum of why I feared rest:
Would I be replaced?
Would I still be needed?
Would I like what I found when I slowed down and reflected on what was truly important to me?
Can you relate to any of those or have you not come to a place of such honesty yet? If not, I hope this post has challenged you in this area.
I didn’t know how to slow down, unplug, relax, and truly receive the deep benefits of rest.
It simply came down to this simple revelation for me: I know I need to but don’t know how to rest.
Not knowing how to truly rest is my secret shame and many of those High Performers I’ve met. This is solvable, productivity fans.
But the first step is accepting the secret shame of a high performer is we don’t know how to rest.
Join me on this journey to own up to it and be willing to make the necessary changes to receive the benefits of rest.
Bryan Paul Buckley is an Energy Performance Expert who helps business professionals and business travelers to leave the Exhaustion Cycle and live in the Energy Cycle. Bryan is also a speaker, coach, and the host of the Energy Edge Podcast. He’s a husband of one and father of five and lives with his tribe in the Chicago land area.
I've used a standing desk for so long, only medical carts came up when I searched online. I love my medical cart/standing desk, and while most people get tired or feel pain from standing all day, I hurt when I sit too long. That being said, Sit-to-Stand or variable height desks are an excellent way to change your body positions, and if I wanted to replace my current set-up, I'd buy one that adjusts.
Cons: It's shaped like a butterfly. I like butterflies, but it's a bit much. My husband said if it didn't have the word butterfly, he could at least pretend it was a moth 🙂
We now have this in our kitchen at the sink, because I replaced it with the second review.
Bonus review if you're looking for a sit-to-stand desk. I had the pleasure of reviewing this desk by the FitDesk company that I tested out on my screened-in porch and begrudgingly gave it to my husband to use in his studio because I already have a standing desk, BikeDesk, and a portable standing desk! Go to www.thefitdesk.com to purchase. Use the code MARCEYFREEMAT to receive a free mat on all bikes, under desk products and desks!
Pros: Super easy to assemble, sleek, simple to adjust and affordable. Love the cord control. #CordlessIsNeverCordless
Cons: None, if a minimalist desk is what you need. It looks like I have to push it down hard in the video, but it's because there is nothing on it. As soon as I have anything, even a laptop, the weight makes it much easier.
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