Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cut emotional baggage out of your life

There a lot of ways to be good to your heart.

 The physical aspects, of course, are important. Eating right, exercising, and getting regular check-ups can add years to your life, and improve the quality of the years you do get. If nothing else, getting a new model is nearly impossible (and costs a lot of effort and trouble even if by some miracle you do manage it).

But there are more subtle ways to take care of your heart. Stress can also take years off your life, forcing your heart to do a lot more work than it would normally have to. Some stresses can't be avoided – work and bills, for example – and we're forced to turn to de-stressing techniques from yoga and meditation to taking long, relaxing walks and thinking about the positive elements in your life. 

One of the best de-stressing techniques, however, is surprisingly simple. We're taught from when we're young that we should just cope with emotional stress, powering our way through sadness and swallowing anger or worry. Men aren't supposed to be allowed to cry, and women aren't supposed to make a fuss. Adulthood, we're always told, is about growing up and just accepting the mess that life sometimes insists on shoveling at us.

But just swallowing our emotions causes its own level of emotional stress on our hearts. If nothing else, it can lead to one of those awful moments when we "snap" – suddenly screaming at a child, spouse, co-worker or other driver over some relatively small infraction. Often, moments like that happen as the result of a bunch of tiny stresses, piling one on top of the other until the entire load becomes overwhelming.

We hear a co-worker's comment and let it eat at us, or we second-guess a decision we made until we drive ourselves crazy. Recognizing those smaller moments and working through them rather than letting them eat at you, can do wonders for lowering your overall stress.

The best way to do this is to talk through your feelings with someone you trust. If it's a problem with a co-worker or a family member you can go straight to them, but even if you're not ready for that another friend can sometimes help you get a different perspective on whatever happened. Someone outside the situation can always see it more clearly, and without the emotional coloring that you inevitably feel. And even if they can't give insight on the situation itself, there's pretty good odds that they'll say something that can make you feel better.

(It's important to find someone who respects your feelings, though. Having your emotional reaction be completely dismissed will only increase your stress, as well as your chances that you'll punch whoever dismissed you).

No matter what anyone says, being an adult doesn't mean it's your job to carry around unnecessary emotional baggage. Talking your feelings out, rather than just suffering through them, is one of the best gifts you can give your heart.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

UPDATED: "Beast Charming" now in audiobook format!

I’m a big believer in books being available in every possible format, whether that be print, e-book, or even audio (I’d add skywriting, but I’ve found that makes a book awkward to read). Given the number of requests I've received over the last year, I'm guessing I'm not alone in that belief.

On that note, I’m happy to announce that “Beast Charming” is finally available as an audiobook! I hand-picked the narrator, Morgan Ganahl, because listening to her is the closest you can get to having me read it to you without forcing you to listen to the number of times I say “um” or “like” when speaking out loud.”

It’s available through, iTunes and Amazon.

Happy listening!