Around the Web for September 2019

I curate articles from around the web that present an interesting perspective or helpful information using technology to improve our wellbeing. Each of these articles were featured in my September 2019 newsletter. I send out an update twice a month along with some notes on my latest work. Sign up for my newsletter here.

September I

We've Reached Peak Wellness. Most of It Is Nonsense.

Here's what actually works

While I do like my Apple Watch and my new Oura ring for sleep tracking, it's less about the devices and hacks that drive wellbeing. It's the consistent practice of the basics that delivers true wellness.

Brad Stulberg wrote one of the best pieces I've read on wellness in an article for Outside Magazine. There's so much good science-based wisdom in this article, I highly recommend reading this one in full, and here are the highlights:

  • Physical: Move Your Body and Don’t Eat Crap—but Don’t Diet Either

  • Emotional: Don’t Hide Your Feelings, Get Help When You Need It

  • Social: It’s Not All About Productivity; Relationships Matter, Too

  • Cognitive: Follow Your Interests, Do Deep-Focused Work

  • Spiritual: Cultivate Purpose, Be Open to Awe

  • Environmental: Care for Your Space

"This is what you need if you really want to be well. You have to cut out the crap and focus on the basics. This stuff is simple—and though it’s not always easy, it’s not always so hard either."

Why Breaking a Streak Feels So Awful

Streaks aren’t an ideal way to build habits. Even when you miss a day, you’re still building the habit. Your brain picks right back up where you left off.

In this article, author Katie Heaney wraps the story of the insidious little streak focused owl from Duolingo around the benefits of taking a regular break from streaks.

"If what you’re looking for is sustainability — a truly long-term habit, ingrained into your routine — streaks are also one of the less effective routes available, says Wendy Wood, a professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California and author of the forthcoming Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick."

Me gusta Duolingo y practico mi español todo los dias, mostly ;). The method that has worked for me and my clients is to connect any new habit with one you already do and ignore the streaks.

September II

12 Ways to Unlock the Powers of the Vegus Nerve

After listening to a talk by by Dr. James Doty, a neurosurgeon and Director of the Center for for Compassion and Altruism Research & Education at Stanford, I became extremely intrigued with how to manipulate our body's vegus nerve.

While discussing the power of compassion on our wellbeing and the increasing problems with loneliness and depression to the entrepreneurs of the TransTech Academy this week, he made a compelling case for managing the vegus nerve to our benefit. Among many other functions, the vegal nerve manages the processing of emotions between our heart, brain, and gut, "which is why we have a strong gut reaction to intense mental and emotional states."

Unlocking the powers of the vegus nerve can help with a host of problems, including mental health benefits. This fantastic article talks about those benefits and our gut instinct while including 12 Vegus Nerve Stimulation Techniques. Here's the quick list, and I highly recommend reading them over in full. Building even a couple of these into habits can have a profound impact on your wellbeing:

  1. Positive Social Relationships

  2. Cold Exposure

  3. Gargling

  4. Singing and Chanting

  5. Massage

  6. Laughter

  7. Yoga & Tai Chi

  8. Breathing Deeply and Slowly

  9. Exercise

  10. Coffee Enemas

  11. Nervana

  12. Relaxing

"Caring, nurturing, and compassion are essential to our human existence," Dr. Doty said. "Psychological safety creates the best functioning of our physiology." That's sound advice for entrepreneurs and organizational leaders to get the best and most innovative outcomes from our teams. Dr. Doty uses these 10 Letters to Live By [PDF].

[Image: Marta Pantaleo]