Paul Huljich suffered a complete breakdown while serving as the CEO of a growing company. Diagnosed as bipolar, he refused his psychiatrist’s psychotropic medications after a couple of years and decided his remedy would be to create a more meaningful life for himself instead. Huljich, a New Zealander, was convinced that his illness was the by-product of chronic stress. How to reduce stress and bring balance to your life is the subject of his book, Stress Pandemic: The Lifestyle Solution.
In the book’s Foreword, Dr. Hugh Polk says admiringly, “We learn from what Paul has written that our lives change not as a result of that one, big, apocalyptic moment when we ‘see the light’ but rather through the day-to-day, moment-to-moment small choices we make to do things differently from how we’re supposed to do them or how we’ve always done them before. And we can keep on growing, indefinitely, by continuing to change those little things.”
In the book, Huljich shares the strategies that worked for him, as he used himself as a guinea pig to investigate the most effective ways to de-stress and keep his bipolar disorder under control via natural means. He understands how stress today has skyrocketed and is so ubiquitous that it can seem invisible until its ill effects become all too clear, from headaches and grinding teeth to feelings of fatigue and being overwhelmed.
If it’s a given that we can’t do much to eliminate the stress in our lives, it should be equally obvious that lifestyle changes can do much to bring us back into balance. Huljich lays out nine ways that will help us accomplish that:
- Take Charge. Accept the need for change. You’re worth it!
- Kick Your Bad Habits. They are mostly artificial coping mechanisms for stress; you can learn to deal with your stress more directly.
- Learn to Say No. Not being true to yourself creates disharmony. Learn to listen to your innermost feelings and practice saying no (and yes) in response to them so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Affirmations. This powerful technique can de-program you from a lifetime of reinforcing patterns that are not serving you well.
- Exercise. Walking, stretching, and “earthing”—making direct contact with the ground for a natural exchange of electrons between the earth and our bodies—can work wonders in eliminating stress. Stand or walk barefoot to recharge!
- Nutrition. Everything from brain chemistry to sleep is profoundly affected by the food we put in our bodies. Minimizing caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, and processed food and drinking lots of pure water will keep you healthier and help you fight stress.
- Sleep. Few of us get enough of the good-quality sleep that boosts our energy and our ability to handle stress. Huljich offers great recommendations for establishing healthy sleep patterns.
- The Power of Awareness. What Huljich calls MWellA—Mind Wellness Awareness—is a call to maintain a strong sense of awareness to use as a barometer for your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and moods. This is a direct route to peace of mind.
- Don’t Give Up. Like any new program, this one will succeed only if you stick with it. Change takes time.
Interspersed with lively and inspired quotes, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Clint Eastwood, reader-friendly sidebars of summaries and checklists, and a lengthy notes and resources section, Stress Pandemic is a useful tool for anyone (and that’s all of us) who would like to be free of mild, moderate, or severe stress.
I’ll commit to nutrition and exercise the rest I’ll have to think about.
Change is my biggest fear! I never want to skip a step from my daily routine, it throws me off and stresses me out. After reading this, I now know where I need to start. Step 1, I will take charge.