An Excerpt from Joanna Barsh’s “Grow Wherever You Work.”

BarshCoverEarlier this week, Joanna Barsh talked to the Amazon Book Review about her new book, Grow Wherever You Work: Straight Talk to Help With Your Toughest ChallengesThis latest book by Barsh, a longtime director of McKinsey & Company, uses real-life case studies from the work lives of more than 200 rising leaders to create a guide getting through the trickiest times in a career, from “When Work Holds No Passion” to “When Everything Sucks.” Intrigued? Below, we excerpt the introduction to Grow Wherever You Work, by kind permission of McGraw Hill.


An Excerpt from Grow Wherever You Work: Straight Talk to Help With Your Toughest Challenges:

Who knows when it began, but dirty water was bubbling up from the drain in the boiler room. Sometime around 11 p.m., Gaby and Nick returned home after a grueling day of work. They cautiously descended the stairs to the subbasement. Water was spreading everywhere. Gaby remembered, “I smelled it first. Then I saw the boxes storing important family papers sitting in water. I didn’t think. I took off my shoes and waded in. But the boxes were too heavy to move.”

She yelled at Nick to help. He refused, stiffly advising Gaby not to touch a thing (too late on that score) and to call the building manager. An exchange of criticisms began, rapidly followed by a few expletive-laden insults. In tears, Gaby dialed her mother. Nick retreated to safety upstairs to call his. Neither mother had much to add.

Panicked, Gaby called the building manager next. He did nothing to relieve her anxiety, replying that no, he wasn’t coming over to help and yes, it was most assuredly sewage water. In a tone that communicated I’m doing you a favor, he scheduled a plumber for the next day. Now Gaby had to rearrange her day to work from home, if her boss would even allow it. She had a sleepless night.

The next morning, she opened her door to Harris, an elderly plumber. A man of few words, he said, “I’ve done jobs like this for 30 years. This place will be as good as new.” Harris then moved the boxes with ease, whistling while he worked. And it was as good as new, for the time being.

The parallel to challenges at work is striking. The expression “volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous” (VUCA) describes extreme military situations, but it has since been adopted as the new normal by the business world. Your job could disappear without warning. Your boss could disappear without warning. People you work with live on the other side of the world—and they want to talk at 9 a.m. their time. Expectations are higher; your peers are working harder. And your work challenges are bigger and more intense than ever.

Challenges heighten anxiety and stress. Check. They deplete your energy. Double check. If not addressed, they cause harm in the long term. Triple check. Sound familiar?

Your work is filled with hard challenges that you don’t feel ready to handle. They may require difficult conversations, new skills, and tools you don’t yet have. Worse, their best friend is fear. Together, challenge and fear can sap your will and render you helpless.

But there’s another side to this story.

What if you grew more capable through challenges, working more productively and enjoyably? What if they helped you become more capable? You’d run toward challenges; you’d welcome them. With the right mindset, approaches, and tools, you’d find challenges intriguing and exciting. They’d engage you fully and stimulate your creative thinking.

Reframe. Challenges are not flashing danger signs, but spectacular opportunities to grow faster and smarter.

The challenges in this book come from research I’ve undertaken since 2015. I wanted to tailor my leadership work to midcareer professionals as a follow-up to the Centered Leadership Project, which I founded as a senior partner at McKinsey & Company. Consequently, for this book I interviewed over 200 high performing, high potential rising leaders at For- tune 1000 companies, in addition to startup founders, non-profit leaders, government executives, artists, actors, academics, journalists, teachers, and other independent thinkers outside of big business. The participants worked at 120 different companies, across industries and functions—and not the usual suspects! Their backgrounds are as varied as their professional lives. Almost 40 percent are people of color. Those born outside the United States or with immigrant parents represent over 40 countries. These remarkable  participants shared their personal and professional challenges openly and generously with me. Collectively,  they  contributed raw experiences from their work and lives.

You don’t have to love everyone in this book or want to be like them. Chances are, you’re going to dislike a few! I didn’t include their stories to win your sympathy or compassion but to share important insights that may help somebody—possibly you. By the way, because many of the people in this book have asked for anonymity, I’ve changed names and circumstances to honor the request. That said, every story is real. Unvarnished.

The collective voice in this book speaks a profound truth: you don’t grow despite challenges but because of them. These stories underscore five themes:

  • Preparation is half the Challenges are made more manageable when you’ve built the skills and know-how to address them. You don’t always have the luxury, but getting ready for challenges will be a critical factor in your success.
  • Asking questions will help Thinking is critical, but it’s not what you think. The participants underscore the importance of reflection, soul-searching, and dreaming. Asking questions—big ones and granular ones—is a practice you would do well to hard-wire into your daily life.
  • Talking is a good Talking to your boss, mentors and sponsors, colleagues, coworkers, friends, and contacts is productive when it helps you address the questions. Interaction generates new energy, which may be exactly what you need.
  • Intentionality is the Do Not Pass Go Until You Do This Lurking beneath your behaviors are mindsets and beliefs that may limit you. With self-awareness, you can choose to stay as you are—or change. As much as you might wish it, change doesn’t happen on its own. Consciously shift your mindset and your experience will improve, even if the outcome isn’t everything you wanted.
  • Taking small steps frees you to Small steps help you test your way through trial and error, reinforcing your new mindsets and behaviors. Small steps mitigate risk. Take enough of them and they add up.

You’ll read about 12 work challenges in 12 chapters. Here’s how each unfolds: I introduce the challenge briefly; then share a few more  true stories (each followed by my answer to the question “so what?”); and wrap up with recommended tools, practices, and actions. You participate too. You have your own perspective, and you decide what to implement. As one participant said, “I’ve had enough of school. I don’t want to be led by the nose. Let me reach my own conclusions.”  Right on.

Use the book as you like. You’ll experience all of these tough challenges at some point in your career, assuredly more than once. Read from the be- ginning or start with the most pressing challenge that you face right now.

Think of me as your mentor in a box, or “mentor in a book” more appropriately. I offer more than 30 years of experience helping companies address their strategic, operational, and organizational challenges. I know how to structure problems, analyze the data, reach conclusions, and develop recommendations. I know how to interview and listen intently. That’s what underlies the stories, their “so what’s,” and my counsel. I respect that you may develop your own game plan. Nothing would please me more. This book is for all curious minds open to taking on the toughest work challenges. I hope that’s you. I hope you experience work, grow quickly, and above all aspire to greatness. You’re reading this book for a reason.

If you’re early on in your career, work will be more adventure and less drag when you’re open to learning, delighted by challenge, and intentional. Put the tools, practices, approaches, and recommended actions to the test. Learn from the stories of people who faced challenges you haven’t yet experienced. But please don’t compare. You’ve got just as much on the ball as the professionals in this book.

If  you’re  midway through your career or further along, there’s no time like the present to apply the five themes: preparing, asking, talking, setting your intention, and acting in small steps. Your experiences, skills, and know-how will be godsends, but try to see with fresh eyes too. Remember that if you ask the same questions and do the same things, you’ll get the same outcomes. That’s not what you want.

Our world suffers a severe leadership deficit on every level. This gap isn’t going to close without your help. Choose where to make your mark. Get going.

And I promise, that’s the end of the purple prose for me. From here on in, it’ll be straight talk, tough love, and “just the facts!”


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Bentley Bentayga: 5 Things You Need To Know

Bentley Bentayga

The Bentley Bentayga is faster than any other SUVs in the market

The Bentley Bentayga comes fitted with a double turbocharged engine with a capacity of 6.0 liters. The W12 behemoth engines is so powerful that it can produce up to 600 horsepower and torque power of 663 foot-pound. This powerful engine renders more powerful than other SUVs in the market. The Bentayga is fitted with an eight speed transmission that transmits power generated to all of its four wheels. With this power transmission, it can reach a leap from 0-60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. The top speed of this car is 187 mph.

With the technology involved in the production, a Bentley Bentayga is costly

With the powerful performances exhibited and the luxurious assortments that accompany the car come with a price. Bentley Bentayga has a price tag of $230,000 making it the most expensive SUV in the world. It is $70,000 more than the most expensive Porsche Cayenne. The luxurious a assortments that come with it raise the price significantly. When all the additional assortments are included, the price of the SUV will shoot to almost a half a million dollars.

Bentley For Sale | Bentley Bentayga For Sale

Bentley Bentayga Interior

The Interior of the car is inspired with the technological advancement

Bentley Bentayga is fitted with all forms of technology developed in locomotive industry. It offers electric active control as an option for drawing power from its electric system of 48v. The roll bar is for giving ride comfort and body control balance. This will automatically bring the needed handling stability to the cabin. In terms of entertainment, every seat is fitted with a 10.2 inch tablets that are removable and can to the WiFi and mobile provided 4G networks. The android tablets are the forms of entertainment to the people aboard. Sound is enhanced by the fitted Naim sound system.

The world’s most expensive car watches is inbuilt in the new Bentley Bentayga

The SUV is fitted with the Mulliner Tourbillion Clock that is produced by Creitling. This clock goes for the market value of $234,000 US dollars. This is as part of the option list that most expensive cars come with. This extra list content has been broken by the contents of this Bentley. The price of the clock is justified by the manufacturer by stating that, Mulliner Tourbillion Clock is the most complicated clock ever made.

Bentley Bentayga Watch

Inspiration of the name comes from Mother Nature and the founder

The name of this SUV originates from the Taiga snow forest that covers the northern part of the world. The naming is also attached to the Roque Bentayga. This is a form of rock that is mainly found in an island in Spain called Gran Canaria. The name therefore is intended to evoke the natural beauty of mother earth given by its off-road capability. The owner believes that the name reflects the company’s believe on the capability of the car. The exceptional performances of this car take the experiences to another level of exotic environment associated with the inspiration the name is derived from

Bentley Bentayga Diesel Is World’s Fastest Diesel SUV

Bentley Bentayga: The Ultra-Luxury SUV

The post Bentley Bentayga: 5 Things You Need To Know appeared first on Exotic Car List.

Quieting Your Thoughts: Effortless Meditation Techniques For Busy People With Busy Minds

Quieting Your Thoughts: Effortless Meditation Techniques For Busy People With Busy Minds

BY LIGHT WATKINS

Effortless Meditation Techniques for Quieting Your Thoughtsphoto: angus

Meditation For Busy People With Busy Minds

The key to succeeding in meditation is to treat all thoughts as a legitimate part of the meditating experience, regardless of the content. Say it with me: All thoughts matter. This is not hyperbole. The more we celebrate our thinking mind, the more transcendent and blissful our experiences will be in meditation and consequently, the richer and more spacious our experiences will become outside of mindfulness and meditation.

+ The first step in celebrating the mind is to get rid of the word “distracting” when describing our unrelated thoughts in meditation.

+ The next step is to liberate ourselves from the need to witness, let go of, or replace those previously unrelated thoughts with more focused or wholesome thoughts.

+ Third, we should absolve ourselves from the need to focus on any thoughts in particular or actively ignore them.

Instead of practicing exclusivity, we’re going to begin practicing the opposite—treating all meditation thoughts, sensations, emotions, desires, feelings, inspirations, or anything else we may be thinking about while meditating as 100 percent legitimate. To appreciate this novel approach, it helps to see the bigger picture of how the previously labeled distracting thoughts play a useful role in our meditation process.

The five zones of meditation are: focused thinking, random thinking, mixture of random thoughts and daydreams, dreams, and the settled mind. These five zones encapsulate all the mental experiences that you might have within a given meditation.  The “random thinking” zone is a deliberate word choice and an effort to help you stop seeing random thoughts in meditation as distractions (obstacles) and start seeing them simply as any thoughts that are unrelated to the knowledge (awareness) that you’re meditating.

Focused thinking is thinking exclusively about the task at hand, which in the case of meditation may be thoughts related to the act of meditating:

“I’m sitting on my couch meditating . . .”

“My mind is very busy while I’m meditating . . .”

“This meditation feels long . . .”

Random thinking includes thoughts that are relevant to your life, but they are otherwise unrelated to the act of meditating:

“I want to have macaroni for dinner . . .”

“I forgot to call the dentist to make an appointment . . .”

“Why hasn’t my friend messaged me back . . . ?”

Next we have a mixture of random thoughts and daydreams. Daydreams are thoughts that may make partial sense but are experienced as even more random and fragmented than normal unrelated thoughts, such as:

“I should go back to college to become a circus clown . . .”

“Maybe I’ll be a clown who entertains elephants . . .”

“But only if the elephants are from Cleveland . . .”

Then we have meditation thoughts that are interpretations of dreams. In other words, these are thoughts that either don’t make any sense or are predominantly related to sensations, emotions, or feelings, such as colored lights; feelings of floating, heaviness, or numbness (loss of feeling); or spontaneous fits of laughing, sadness, guilt, shock, or tiredness:

“That shade of blue is beautiful . . .”

“I can’t feel my hands . . .”

“I’m getting sleepy . . .”

And finally, we have the settled mind, where pure bliss is directly experienced—pure bliss being another name for the experience of samadhi (union with the divine) or nirvana (supreme inner peace and serenity).

To the novice, to calm the mind like this sounds like an impossibly mercurial experience that would take great effort or intense concentration to reach, but it’s quite normal and requires no more effort than having a dream while taking a nap. In the settled-mind zone, the pure bliss becomes so great that the thinking process spontaneously comes to a halt, without you having to try to quiet your thoughts. In terms of awareness, the settled state is the deepest state achievable through meditation. The irony is that the meditator is left with little to no awareness that they are achieving it in the moments when they are achieving it.

We’ll discuss later how you will know your mind was settled despite the fact that you won’t be aware of it in the moment. This may sound like you’ll “miss the bliss”—how can you know you were experiencing it if you didn’t realize it at the time? But you will know, mainly because of how you will show up outside of meditation.

The Correct Way to Meditate?

When I began dabbling in meditation, one of the instructions I heard repeated, mainly by my yoga teacher peers, was how there is no correct way to meditate—meaning there is no way to meditate that works best for everyone. Instead, the meditator should tap into how they are feeling in the moment and practice a simple meditation technique appropriate to how they feel. There are numerous problems with this philosophy, but the main issue is that saying “there is no correct way to meditate” ignores the cardinal rule of learning any new skill: while there may not be a correct way, there are certainly best practices for every skill, and by adhering to those best practices, at least in the beginning when you are learning how to do meditation, you establish good habits that help you increase both the consistency and reliability of the desired results and benefits of meditation, as well as your chances of becoming proficient and self-sufficient in the quickest amount of time.

I know about this shortcoming from direct experience with another learned skill that everyone seemed to know how to do but me: swimming. I didn’t learn how to swim properly until I was in my thirties. That’s not to say I never swam before that. In fact, when I was about ten years old I figured out how to doggy paddle. And then I learned how to tread water with the peanut butter-spreading arm motion when I was a teenager. So if I was just frolicking around in the pool, I would be fine, as long as I didn’t have to tread for too long. Much more than about a half a minute of treading water, however, and I would go into a full-blown panic.

Now, if you know how to swim, you might think that knowing how to doggy-paddle and tread water provided me with a good base to learn the rest. But I’m proof that truly swimming— moving your arms and legs in sync—is not as intuitive as it may appear, particularly if you didn’t put the movements together until you were an adult, like me. My inefficiencies in swimming were embarrassingly exposed while on vacation one summer in Hawaii.

I found myself in a once-in-a-lifetime dream situation, hiking with a buddy of mine (who happened to be an expert swimmer) and four beautiful women along the gorgeous coastline of Maui. We arrived at a volcanic rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and one of the women suggested that we strip down to our birthday suits and dive into the sea for a swim around the bend, which meant jumping off the jagged rock we were standing on into choppy ocean water, and navigating around to the other side—at least fifteen hundred feet of ocean swimming. Because the rock stood about ten feet above sea level, once I jumped in, there was no way to get back out. I would be committed. Obviously, I had a major dilemma.

Meanwhile, my buddy couldn’t get his clothes off fast enough, and within seconds everyone was diving into the ocean, leaving me behind, topless, shoulders slumped, visualizing the horror and embarrassment of needing to be rescued by one of the women while naked and drowning. As I watched them all swim like dolphins away from the rock, I yelled out over the thunderclap of the unforgiving waves that I would “stay back to watch our clothes.” Even though there was no one around for miles, this was the least emasculating excuse I could think of. Then I quietly vowed to never allow myself to be in that situation again. In fact, my buddy still teases me about it to this day: “Hey, Light, why don’t you stay back and, uh, watch our clothes?” The first thing I did upon returning home to Los Angeles was to go down to the local community pool and sign up for some basic swimming lessons.

Cut to me on my first day of swim class, surrounded in the West Hollywood city pool by children of all ages who were also learning to swim. The coach instructed me to swim the length of the pool to assess my abilities. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by needing her to jump in and save me on my first lesson, so I pleaded for her to just teach me under the assumption that I didn’t know anything at all. But she insisted.

Reluctantly I waded into the shallow end, held my breath, pushed off the wall, and started flapping my arms and legs in my best impression of a swimmer. I had no idea what I was doing. And after no more than ten meters, all of my energy was spent, I was taking in water, my chest was on fire, and my life began passing before my eyes. In a panic, I clutched and clawed my way through what felt like an ocean over to the side of the pool and held on for dear life, as if I had just completed an Ironman competition in record time.

“Okay, good,” my new coach said with a reassuring smile, as if she’d just witnessed me cross the Ironman finish line. “Let’s start from the beginning.”

She got me out of the pool and started teaching me the fundamentals. She showed me how to elongate my body, how to kick my legs, how to twist from side to side so that I could breathe in the water properly. In short, she was teaching me the pieces I’d need to put together to swim freestyle. Then she drilled me over the next several lessons until each individual skill became second nature.

For me this course was revolutionary, and completely changed my relationship with water. Over the first month, I began to learn how to move in concert with the water instead of fighting it. I noticed that whenever I fought the water, it became my enemy, slowing me down and threatening to drown me. But when I practiced lengthening my body, extending my arms, breathing and moving with less effort, the water instantly became friendlier and would assist me as I glided across to the other side. If I stopped moving altogether, the water would support me gently while I caught my breath. If I fought, the water would turn and immediately begin to sink me.

Before long, I was able to swim effortlessly from one side of the pool to the other side. As I mastered the fundamentals, my decades-long panic around large bodies of water transformed into delight. After another month or so of practice, I was finally getting it—do less to accomplish more.

Swimming requires repetition more than anything else (just like calming the mind and achieving the benefits of meditation). There’s so much to remember initially, but after you swim a thousand laps, you get out of your head, stop analyzing everything, and start moving with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. I couldn’t believe it. Something that had eluded me my entire life now seemed as natural as breathing.

After my swimming training, I could go into a pool and swim a mile with relative ease. I could go into the ocean and swim with confidence. And if I’m in another position to go skinny-dipping off a volcanic rock in Hawaii, I’ll be the first one to dive in.

The point is, when it comes to thoughts during meditation, you are essentially learning how to navigate the thing that every new meditator is deathly afraid of—their thinking mind. Or their busy mind. Or their distracted mind. Or their monkey mind. Or whatever they want to call it. To the untrained meditator, their mind is as scary as that ocean was to me on that day I stood on that jagged rock, looking at the waves crashing, and imagining the worst possible outcome—humiliation, then death by drowning. But if you know how to swim, it doesn’t matter how much water is in front of you. If you know how to meditate, it doesn’t matter how busy your mind is.

Meditation is never about stopping your thoughts, in the same way that swimming is never about stopping the water. Rather, swimming is about learning how to move in concert with the water so you can glide through it and have fun. Likewise, the skill of meditation is about learning how to navigate the contours of the thinking mind so you can glide from the busy focused-thinking zone down into the blissful settled-mind zone.

Go E.A.S.Y On Your Mind

Any swimming style can get you from one side of the pool to the other. It could be the breaststroke, the backstroke, the butterfly stroke, or the freestyle stroke. The only question is, how hard do you want to work? If you ask any swimmer which of the four main techniques is the easiest to learn and practice for a beginner, most will agree that the freestyle technique is the one you always want to start with. Is the freestyle stroke the only “correct” way to swim? No. Is it the easiest for getting from one side of the pool to the other? Yes. And will it teach you the fundamentals (in this case, the hydrodynamics) for the other strokes? Absolutely.

In the same way, any mindfulness meditation technique can get you to bliss. But the question is the same: how hard do you want to work? What I’m going to show you is not the only meditation technique, nor is it the only “correct” technique, but in my extensive experience, it is by far the simplest meditation technique to begin with, and in practicing it, you will experience bliss (and learn the fundamentals of how to meditate in the process). It is the meditation equivalent of the freestyle swimming technique. And the key to practicing it is to keep everything easy. Do less to accomplish more. To help you remember how to be in meditation, I’ve created the E.A.S.Y. meditation approach—and now you’ll learn what each of those letters stands for.

How to Keep Meditation Feeling E.A.S.Y.

E.A.S.Y is an acronym for the four key principles of the meditation technique. You’re going to apply these principles to all meditation thoughts, noises, and sensations you experience—not just the positive ones but the negative ones, too. Each E.A.S.Y. principle will help you form an always-reliable foundation for your daily practice, making meditation feel easy and relaxing. That way you’ll reap its many benefits, especially those that occur outside of meditation itself. These principles don’t necessarily build upon one another, so don’t think of them as progressive. Instead, call to mind each of the four principles as you become aware of your mind wandering in meditation.

E = EMBRACE

Embrace means you want to practice allowing the existence of all of your thoughts and experiences. If you feel like you’re dreaming, embrace all of your dreams, embrace your sleepiness, all noises, or anything that you previously considered distracting in meditation. Embracing your experiences will help your meditations remain easy, go by very fast, and give you maximum benefit.

A = ACCEPTANCE

Now take embracing one step further: accept. Acceptance means that you want to cultivate an attitude that whatever is happening in your meditation is what should be happening. That includes happy thoughts, sad thoughts, negative thoughts, sleep, dreams, wondering about the time, and feeling antsy. No need to resist or reject any of those thoughts.

S = SURRENDER

Surrender is another directive that implies embracing and accepting, but it refers specifically to your expectations. In other words, be willing at all times to surrender your idea of how you feel your meditation should be progressing. You ideally don’t want to be locked into an agenda of “This is what I should be experiencing in meditation.” Instead, you want to practice surrendering to whatever meditation thoughts, sensations, noises, or distractions are happening in the moment.

Y = YIELD

Yield complements the principles of embrace, accept, and surrender. It’s so important to be open to whatever is happening in your meditation. As you’ll see, yielding is easier said than done. If you’ve tried and failed at quieting your thoughts in meditation, it’s likely because you’ve been conditioned to do the exact opposite of the E.A.S.Y. approach. Think about what we’ve been trained to believe it takes to be successful in most life endeavors: working hard, control, focus, diligence, remembering important information. That indoctrination will inevitably show up in your process and make your meditations feel hard and clunky. So whenever you catch yourself attempting to control your mind in meditation, remember to return to your E.A.S.Y. approach, and yield to whatever else is happening in your experiences.

By following these four principles, your meditation will go from this experience, where your mind feels trapped in the busy surface zone of focused thinking . . .

. . . to this experience, where your mind becomes progressively de-excited, until it becomes settled.

The E.A.S.Y. Meditation Technique

1. Sit comfortably.
2. Use an easy-to-see timing device, ideally not an alarm.
3. Calculate your finish time (ten to twenty minutes).
4. Close your eyes.
5. Passively think the sound “ah-hum.”
6. Let yourself simultaneously get lost in your thoughts.
7. When you remember that you’re meditating, passively begin thinking “ah-hum” again.
8. Peek freely and often at the time.
9. Once you’re done, wait a minute or two before opening your eyes.
10. Come out slowly.

Recommended Schedule

Meditate once in the morning, upon awakening, for ten to twenty minutes. Sit up and make sure you have comfortable back support. Meditate again once in the afternoon or early evening for ten to twenty minutes. Do not exceed two meditations per day.

coconut oil for health book coverThis article is excerpted with permission from Bliss More: How to Succeed in Meditation Without Really Trying by Light Watkins. Copyright © 2018 by Light Watkins. Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All Rights Reserved.

About The Author

Light Watkins has been practicing and teaching in the meditation space since 1998. He travels the world giving talks on happiness, mindfulness, and meditation, as well as leading trainings and retreats. To date, Watkins has shared his knowledge with thousands through his live courses, books, and online trainings. He contributes to wellness blogs and writes a popular email newsletter called Light’s Daily Dose of Inspiration. Watkins’s TEDx talk has garnered hundreds of thousands of views, and he is the founder of The Shine Movement, a global movement with a mission to inspire. Visit his website: lightwatkins.com.

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Top Gift Picks from Community Members

Gift-giving can be tricky. From last-minute dashes to the mall to questionable fruitcakes, holiday gifts are hard to get just right.

To make this year’s gifting a little easier, we asked 12 successful MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun users to suggest their favorite Under Armour products that can act as gifts for your friends or loved ones. In this guide, you’ll find our community’s most-loved accessories, clothing and shoes that helped them on their health and fitness journey — and will hopefully do the same for your favorite fitness fanatic.

Begin Slideshow

5 Tips to Fall Back Asleep

Restful sleep is essential for athletes to perform at optimal levels. Yet getting a proper night’s sleep often feels unattainable, as we frequently wake up at night. Take heed: This is normal behavior. Most of us tend to wake up roughly 2–3 times per night.

However, for those who always have trouble getting back to sleep, this can feel concerning. This form of sleeplessness typically stems from some form of stress. For athletes, “It could be about an upcoming contest or anything their mind gets active about,” says James I. Millhouse, PhD, licensed psychologist and author ofThe Parents Manual of Sport Psychology.

If you experience disturbed sleeping patterns on a regular basis, try a few of these tips to help you get back into a peaceful slumber:

1. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE PRE-SLEEP ACTIVITY

Find something that puts you to sleep that is not going to stimulate you if you wake in the middle of the night,” says Nilong Vyas, MD, the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA in New Orleans, Louisiana. For example, she recommends falling asleep reading a book. If you wake up in the middle of the night, start reading the same book. “It will help you transition back to sleep without being awake for an inordinate amount of time,” she says. In addition, Vyas says to set a timer to stop reading and try to go to sleep again.

2. OPEN A WINDOW

According to Robert Oexman, DC, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, you should open your window a crack to cool your bedroom down to an optimal 65–68°F. “Those in Scandinavian countries traditionally leave windows open at night and sleep great,” he says.

3. GRAB WARM MILK OR A SNACK

Low blood sugar can cause you to wake up at night. For athletes who operate at a calorie deficit, low blood sugar can become a health issue. According to Pete Bils, Sleep Number’s vice president of sleep science and research, when your blood sugar excessively drops, you should try eating a 250-calorie snack that consists of 75% carbohydrates and 25% protein.

Warm milk’s calming quality is not just an old wives’ tale,” says Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, a nutritional biochemist and author. “Milk has peptides [small protein chains] that, when digested, have direct relaxation effects in the brain.” Drinking a glass of milk or eating a cup of no-sugar added yogurt when you wake up can help the mind relax from whatever stressor woke you up.

4. DO SOME MEDITATION

Jonathan Horowitz, a somnology researcher for Maple Holistics,recommends getting comfortable and focusing on your breathing. Stay mindful of the way your body is feeling and pay attention to it as it continues to unwind. Notice the various organs, muscles and their functions as you lay there. Then, from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head, feel your body as it relaxes and calms itself.

“If it is one of those nights, when your thoughts are zooming way too fast and not letting you find focus, [this] might not be the technique for that particular time,” he says. However, slowing things down and taking your mind off of what woke you could do the trick.


READ MORE  > CAN WORRYING ACTUALLY HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER?


5. FIGURE OUT WHAT’S WRONG

Since stress is usually the culprit for sleep disruption, try to find a way to manage it. Whether you write down a to-do list and get everything down on paper or set aside an hour in the afternoon to think about everything. Above all, if you determine the cause of the constant wake ups and are able to prevent them, “there would be no need for ‘tips’ to help fall back asleep,” says Carolyn Schur, sleep educator and therapist.


GEAR UP FOR SLEEP

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