Down with Stress

More Energy Project Day #12 to 21

I have been down with stress. Not been able to write or think a clear thought.

I need more sleep.

I found this scary infographic about health risks of not sleeping. I am experiencing many of the symptoms.


How to Stop Being Frustrated

Frustration © Erik Back 2012

Frustration © Erik Back 2012

Well, actually you don’t stop being frustrated, because the frustrations are part of life and you need them to get success. I have done a bit of research in the concept of frustration and that made me understand the essence and how to deal with frustration. I will attempt to explain what I believe frustration is and how you can get in control of your frustrations.

Understand frustration

Get in control of your frustrations

Learn to deal with your frustrations

Turn frustration into positive growth

While researching and writing a working paper I saw an important connection to some of my early work on this blog. I saw how I can manage my frustrations by working on my habits and basic needs.

Frustration is good

First of all I want to make clear that frustration is a good thing. We need frustrations to grow. We don’t develop if we don’t have frustrations. But for some people, myself included, frustrations are more frequent and they tend to do more harm than good. Sometimes I overreact dramatise.

It can be awfully distressing for people around me when I let my frustrations get out of control. The reason that my frustrations seem to do more harm than good is that I don’t know how to deal with them.

The feeling of frustration comes from not being able to satisfy a need or desire.

Seven common emotions that give frustration

  1. Boredom (the need for mental stimulation)
  2. Anger (a feeling that something is unjust)
  3. Fear (you feel threatend by something)
  4. Sadness (you are not happy with the way things are)
  5. Loneliness (the need to be with others)
  6. Stress (you need some time to relax)
  7. Feelings of inadequacy (you don’t feel confident in your abilities)
Habits based on Maslow and Frankl

Hierarchy of Habits © Erik Back 2011

Out of these seven emotions I have identified three that I know I handle the wrong way: stress, anger and fear. While thinking about this and asking myself what to do about it, I came to think about a model I made on this blog. I called it the hierarchy of habits.

It is based on Maslows hierarchy of needs. If I plot in the emotions and needs that are connected to frustration I get this:

Boredom has to do with the need for self-actualisation.

Feelings of inadequacy have to do with the need for esteem.

Sadness and loneliness have to do with the need for love and belonging.

Anger, stress and fear have to do with the need for safety.

The purpose of the hierarchy of habits is to show what is important to build a good foundation for your life. You have to get balance in your physiological needs before you can start building your safety needs etc. If you don’t have at stable foundation, you will face problems like frustration at other levels. To stop being frustrated you need to work on your basic needs.

To deal with anger I first have to fulfill my physiological needs. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy food and cleanse my body. Then I can start working on my needs for safety at home, at work, balance my economy and order.

For a few weeks I have been working on sleep and exercise; and I can already feel a change in my frustrations.



Top 5 Bad Habits

isolation © by Dawn Ashley

1. Watching too much television is bad for your physical health. Especially your heart and back suffers from sitting in front of the television, but also you metal health suffers and your IQ drops.

2. Not responding to stress is a common and very bad habit. Typical stress symptoms are feeling irritable, memory problems, frustration, muscle tension and headaches. The list is very long and it is important to act immediately on these symptoms; you can see an elaborated list at Changing Minds.

3. Having a negative attitude will isolate you hinder you from reaching your goals. In general it is a good idea to acknowledge the things you don’t like and then focus on the positive instead. I.e. your dreams, your visions and the things you want instead of what makes you unhappy.

4. Perfectionism is definitely one of the worst habits and it kills creativity. If you don’t take action and keep collecting information or fiddling then you will never get things done; you won’t make any changes and never get to your goals and dreams. Don’t fiddle – take action and remember that you learn from failure.

5. Being isolated is not good for your health and it will not help you get anywhere. You need other people to get success in this world. If you tend to isolate yourself then you need to work on you social skills and save some money on psychologist sessions.

When Is the Best Time to Wake Up?

Follow my More Energy Project in 180 days

Alarm Clock 2 © by alancleaver_2000

I have seen a lot of different opinions on when to get up in the morning and how much sleep you need. Sleep is still a mystery to science. Some say that 5 am is a good time and others say 6 am. I have even heard people argue for waking up a 4 am!

The Dalai Lama recommends rising with the sun; his reasoning sounds good but since I live in Denmark the sun rises at 3 am in summertime and at 9 am in wintertime; some days the sun doesn’t even show because of grey clouds. Rising with the sun would not work for me.


I was thinking that there had to be some general rule that applies to all human beings no matter where you live in the world. Since the concept of time is constructed I don’t think that your organs care much about it; I think that your organs and your body are constructed in a way that follows several cycles and that means that your body must have some kind of biological watch.

I became curious about this and I started searching evidence and scientific research. It turns out that this idea is very old and common in Chinese traditional medicine, but it is also a scientific research area that is called chronobiology. I found an interesting book about this topic that I am going to read to find out what science has to say that can help improve my sleeping habits.

The book is not academic but it is based on academic evidence with a list of scientific sources. “The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain” by Judith Horstman shows how your body works at certain times of the day. This book is now on my wish list of books I want in my bookcase. You can read extracts of the book on Google books.

Body schedule from 4.00 am to 7.30 am

In this book I found an interesting schedule that shows what happens in your body at certain times. This is a list of what happens between 4 and 7.30 am.

4.00 am

Body temperature and respiration at their lowest

Level of adenosine at the lowest and starts to increase

6.00 am

Onset of menstruation most likely

Insulin levels in bloodstream are lowest

Blood pressure and heart rate begin to rise

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase

Levels of melatonin decrease

7.30 am

Secretion of melatonin stops

Best time to wake up

To my question about when you should wake up there doesn’t seem to be an exact answer. However, your body seems to prefer if you wake up between 5.00 am and 7.00 am. Depending on when and how much the blood pressure rise it would probably be a good habit to get out of bed between 5.00 am and 6.00 am. If you live on the northern hemisphere you experience darkness during wintertime and your hormone levels will follow a different pattern than during summertime.

It is now winter in Denmark and I get up at 6.30 am and I will try to get up about 5.30 am when summer comes.

Covey’s 7 habits to Be Effective

Proactive © by Jonathan Assink

I have mentioned Covey’s 7 habits in another post and yesterday a showed you 12 amazing Zen habits that make up a very good starting point for a solid foundation. The Zen habits are a great way to keep your well-being and a life without stress, but sometimes it would be nice if you could be both effective and have a life without stress. Stephen Covey discovered 7 good habits of highly effective people in 1989. You can combine these habits with the 12 Zen habits and you will both be effective and relaxed.

Habit 1: Be proactive. This habit is about having the right attitude; it is about taking responsibility for your own life and stop blaming others. Your life is shaped and designed by the choices you make. If you can see that it will rain tomorrow then be proactive and make some good choices that will make tomorrow a good day instead of blaming the rain for your misery. You have the power inside you to choose how you will respond to external stimuli.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind. To get success in life you have to know where you are going. Covey suggests that you make it a habit to envision your goal in your mind before you start going there.

Habit 3: Put first things first. This is about prioritising; what is important and what is not important. Accept that you cannot do everything and that you do not have to.

Habit 4: Think win-win. The way I understand Covey’s win-win situation it is about not compromising. In my opinion you should never compromise because that would mean that both sides only get a part of what they want. You should always try to find a solution where both sides feel like winners. It is harder, but it is a good strategy and a very good habit.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Basically this is about listening; make it a habit to really listen and try to understand what the other part is trying to communicate. It will make life so much easier for you.

Habit 6: Synergise. Covey calls openness and cooperation for synergising. This habit is about being open to new ways of doing things and the ability to cooperate with other people.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw. This seventh habit covers some of the basic things that you find in the 12 Zen habits. According to Covey it is important to work on your own well-being and I could not agree more.

These seven habits are not revolutionary and they have been said before, but Stephen Covey has managed to develop some good tools to keep focus on these habits and to understand them better. The habits correspond to keywords such as: Positive attitude, set goals, prioritising, listen, not compromising and being extrovert. Read more on Stephen Coveys website.