Category Archives: Lifehacks

Lifehack for Anxiety: Invite Brad Pitt to Dinner

Some anxiety – I like to call it catastrophizing, is basically like entering into a very vivid daydream about every worst-case scenario possible and it’s nice to have a worst-case-scenario lifehack.  What if my partner dies in a car crash?  What if they’re disabled?  What if my daughter isn’t careful and someone abuses her?  What if we go bankrupt and end up homeless? Not realistic fears, not things that are likely to happen – typically it’s the worst possible things that could happen. Happily, there is a great way to fix it.

This isn’t daydreaming about things that are likely to happen, it’s really the worst that could possibly happen, ever, to anyone.  The absolute worst. By worrying about these what-if questions your life becomes similar to navigating a mine-field of potential disasters.  It starts to seem like doom is lurking around every corner and like you’re struggling just to stay alive, and who doesn’t need a lifehack for doom?

Here is a great anti-catastrophizing lifehack from DIY Health: For Women. It’s simple, portable, free and gives you a great reason to have fun for 30 seconds.

Pay attention to your mind – every time you catch yourself thinking what-if-a-piano-falls-out-of-the-sky thoughts – activate your lifehack.  Instead of a negative fantasy, switch to a positive one. Start thinking about the best case scenarios – the ones where Brad Pitt shows up on your doorstep with flowers and offers to cook dinner and vacuum the rug. Or Angelina Jolie really wants to come over to get to know you better.  How about the one where James Bond shows up to tell you that this suitcase full of cash actually belongs to you? Or your spouse shows up at your office with two tickets to the Bahamas and you don’t have to worry about packing because you can just buy all new things when you get there.  Make it over-the-top good and don’t hold anything back.

Really picture that scenario happening – see every detail, if you’re going to dinner in your fantasy pick out what you would order.  Really get into it and enjoy it. All of this only takes 30 seconds out of your day – it’s not like you’re spending hours in this positive fantasy (like you might do with the negative one).  It’s basically a break that allows your brain to jump track, to get distracted from the usual pattern of bad thoughts and to get a little less used to catastrophizing. This allows you to break the cycle of absurd fear and worry thoughts. After all, anxiety has a brain chemistry component but it also has a habit component.




The hardest part, just like with meditation, is actually noticing what your mind is doing. For many of us this form of worry is second nature and we don’t even really notice when it’s happening. It just becomes the background chatter in your brain.  In order to stop the background chatter you have to notice it.  If the noticing is the hard part, you may benefit from some mindfulness meditation to start to be aware of the merry chase your brain is leading you on.

In your anxiety lifehack unicorns really can fart rainbows. Really.  Awesome image from puppylover4002.wordpress.com

In your anxiety lifehack unicorns really can fart rainbows. Really. Awesome image from puppylover4002.wordpress.com

This exercise isn’t necessarily about the good fantasy, it is simply to point out how completely ridiculous it is to get caught up in the ‘what-if’ place.  The smiles you get from the good fantasy are really just the cherry on top. Ironically, it’s easier for your pessimistic human mind to recognize it as ridiculous more easily when you fantasize about good things than when you fantasize about bad things.  It seems that we all know Brad Pitt isn’t showing up for dinner, but we’re not totally sure the roof isn’t going to collapse or a loved one isn’t going to get into a car wreck. Huh.

There are really enough difficult things in life without creating new ones for yourself, so if you catch yourself getting into a big mental story about the worst case scenario, then take a minute to create a mental story about the best case scenario. Now what if suddenly your boss tells you that you don’t actually have to come to work anymore, but they appreciate you so much they’re keeping you on the payroll.

By doing this over and over again the catastrophe thoughts seem to vanish.  They go away on their own because you’re not feeding them any more and you’re not exercising those mental pathways.  Just let them go and if they come back, well, it’s a great opportunity to revisit that great fantasy where you’re horseback riding down the beach with the Old Spice® guy.



Lifehack – The Bad Habit Reset Button – Fasting.

Don’t you wish you could just hit the button for a bad habit reset?  I do.  Especially right after the holiday season when I feel like I’ve eaten my weight in butter and “treats” (which are clearly not “treats” when you eat them constantly).  Sometimes it’s other habits or life areas that are struggling.  It could be that work hasn’t been going well, it could be that a relationship is rocky, it could be that I’m cultivating all kinds of bad habits I don’t need.  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to know that there is a reset button out there.  You heard me right, there is a way to hit the reset button – thank God for small miracles.

Fasting is the fastest bad habit reset button out there. Picture by © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Fasting is the fastest bad habit reset button out there. Picture by © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Hitting the reset button means taking a break from normal, but unfortunately life is full of obligations, so we can’t always up and fly to Tahiti, no matter how much we might need it.  What this means, is that we need a way to do it ourselves, at home, using things we have on hand and it needs to actually help us to break cycles.

The best reset I’ve ever found is a fast.  I know that’s not what anyone wanted to hear because “fasting” is right up there with “Chinese water torture” for lots of people, but those people probably haven’t tried it.  I’ll talk more about quick fasts in another upcoming post, because they are also one of my favorite life hacks, but in this case we’re looking at something different.  This is a little bit longer.  I’m not talking about Messiah-style 40 days, I’m talking about 3-5 days that are all about you.

Here’s how you do a fast for a bad habit reset:

  1. Choose the right time. Just a hint, if there is a massive deadline in the middle of it, it’s probably not the right time.  Pick a time where you can actually focus on getting in touch with you, getting to know your body, and taking out the trash in every sense of the words.
  2. Make a little space in your life. There isn’t any problem working during a fast, but if you can it’s nice to reduce your schedule to half days or to take a day or two off during your fast to give you a little bit of time for extra sleep, self care and cleaning house (which I always want to do when I’m fasting – I think it’s an external mirror for what is going on internally).
  3. Choose Your Type of Fast. During the fast you can either do all water plus the miracle drink (if you haven’t heard me talk about it before I’ll go over that in the next step), or you can mix freshly juiced veggies and fruits in.  I find that the all water and miracle drink is actually a little easier for me because the veggie juice pushes my body to detoxify too quickly.  Typically if this is the first fast you’re trying, then stick to 3 days and keep it simple. If you’ve fasted before and know your body can handle being really pushed to detox then maybe add in the veggie juices. If you choose to use veggie juices make sure they are actually juiced by you or right in front of you (not bought pre-packaged) and that you get 3-4 cups of the veggie juice throughout the day.  Also make sure they’re mostly veggie with just a touch of fruit or carrot for taste, but that the bulk is good green veggie.
  4. Make Sure You Get Enough Water! This is probably the most important thing, because without the water it’s hard for your body to clean house internally!  8-10 glasses per day is a minimum. When I’m fasting I set a timer every hour and alternate between the miracle drink one hour and water the next.
  5. Drink the Miracle Drink. People laugh when I call it the miracle drink, but it’s because they haven’t tried it.  This is such a great detoxifier and energy boost.
    1. 1 tbsp raw organic apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is my favorite),
    2. honey to taste (no more than 1 tbsp please)
    3. 8-16 oz hot or cold water depending on how strong a flavor you like.  During a fast have this 3-4 times during the day to help your liver keep moving.



  6. Support Your System. If you have any icky feelings while you’re detoxing – this could be headache, grouchiness, mild sick feeling, bad breath, brain fog or a slightly hungover feeling – the do a little extra detox.  Anything that makes you sweat will help, so saunas, steam rooms, hot yoga, or hot baths are great.  Naps work well too.  In general make sure you’re giving yourself extra time for sleep
  7. Be Ready for Emotional Detox Too. Your body isn’t just taking this chance to get rid of the physical junk and bad habits.  There is emotional junk in there that needs to come out, and better out than in.  I love to journal so I use that as a tool to help process whatever comes up, but use whatever tools you like.
  8. Restart Your Life With Consciousness and Intention. This means that you should take some of this time to think about what you actually want in your life.  You’re resetting for a reason here. What do you want emotionally?  What do you want professionally?  How do you want to take care of your body?  What sort of food plan would you like? This is a great time to break bad health habits and restart with a clean slate.
  9. Simple Foods For Your Reentry Meal. The first meal you eat to break your fast should be simple and clean foods – preferably heavy on fruits and veggies, light on lean meats and even lighter (or not at all) on grains.  If you need a grain, choose something that is a cleaner grain like rice or quinoa.  You can eat as much of this fruit and veggie meal as you want, but make sure you’re not just jumping out of a fast into a large pizza because that’s not exactly the reset we’re looking for.

    Fasting is so much easier when you drink enough water. Adding lemon to your water is great to help support your liver through a fast. © Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

    Fasting is so much easier when you drink enough water. Adding lemon to your water is great to help support your liver through a fast. © Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Is It Really Hard to Fast?

Surprisingly, no.  It’s almost shockingly not-hard. Almost everyone I’ve done this with is hungry the first day, and then pretty fine for the rest of it.  Occasionally I’ll have someone who is a really fast detoxifier and by day three they feel kind of icky, but most people are just fine. There’s a lot of nostalgia about food because let’s face it – part of eating is the joy of eating that has nothing to do with physically needing food.  But seriously, if you can get through day 1 with it’s hunger then you’re good to go.

Is Fasting Safe for Anybody?

If you have insulin dependent diabetes or severe hypoglycemia then it is necessary that you talk to your doctor and possibly even have in-home supervision while you fast because it can be dangerous if your blood sugars fall too low. Also it’s not a good idea for pregnant or nursing mothers because the demands on your body are already considerable – we don’t need to ask it to do more right now. Also if you have a chronic condition then it’s best policy to talk with your doctor about it.

What Results Will You See?

Fasting is tremendous for your body – it’s essentially a break from the hard work of metabolism. You can expect:

  • Weight loss – 5 to 10 pounds is normal in 3 days.
  • Energy – nobody believes me, but usually your energy is awesome during a fast. Better than normal.
  • Good sleep – everyone thinks the hunger will keep them up. Never seems to happen.
  • Mental perspective – it’s a lot easier to see the bad habits you’ve gotten yourself into when you’ve got a little distance from them. Even if that distance is just a couple of days that are different.
  • Losing Those Food Cravings – 3 days is plenty of time for the food cravings to just fall off.  Your body doesn’t actually want to live on sugar, but if you’ve been living on sugar then you don’t know that.
  • Spiritual benefits – fasting has been used by most faiths in most cultures globally to bring spiritual clarity and discipline.  I’m not an expert on this by any means, but I’m guessing all of those people aren’t wrong.
  • Anti-aging – you may not be able to tell in the moment, but by fasting you’re actually slowing down your aging process. Awesome.

Short fasts of 3-5 days are a great way to clean house, lose weight, and one of the easiest bad habit resets in the book.  After a fast – especially if you can make it through 3 days – most people have lost their sugar and starch cravings and loosened up their bad habits. I suggest doing 2-4 per year  to help keep you healthy, happy and vital.  And did I mention that it’s strongly anti-aging and actually slows the aging process?  The research is entirely clear on this point.  Regular fasting both extends life and slows aging.  Yet another great reason to hit the bad habit reset button!



Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

Lifehack: Immune boost. Wet socks

I *love* *lovelove* free things that work and this is one of the best – it’s called wet socks or wet sock treatment and it is just as odd as it sounds, but it’s an awesome lifehack immune boost. First I’ll tell you how to do it, and then I’ll tell you why you might want to, because god knows anything to do with wet socks doesn’t really sound like something you’d want to do. I promise, it is.

How To Do Wet Socks

That sounds like the punchline to a joke. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plain cotton socks – any height but try to at least cover your ankles.
  • Wool socks that are as tall (high?) or taller (higher?) than the cotton socks. Really try to get wool because it stays cozy even when wet.
  • Water
  • A cozy bed

Here’s the Simple Method:

  1. Find some plain cotton socks  and run them under the faucet so that they’re fully wet.
  2. Wring them out so that they are damp but not dripping
  3. Put them on your feet and put the (dry) wool socks on over top of them
  4. Go to bed and get a great night’s sleep.

What to Expect With Wet Socks:

  • Your feet will feel cold when you go to bed – that’s totally normal and they’re supposed to.
  • If you wake up int he night you will either be far too cold or far too hot, and far too hot is probably more common. That’s okay – just roll over and go back to sleep.
  • This will be an uncommonly good night of sleep – seriously.
  • You will wake up with toasty warm, mysteriously dry feet.

Why Do Wet Socks?

This is THE BEST FREE IMMUNE BOOST EVER. No joke. Essentially by making one part of your body cold while the rest of you is a normal temperature you are tricking your body into freaking out. Essentially your body can’t figure out what is wrong, so it starts to heat up your core temperature hoping to save your feet. At the same time, you boost your white blood cells in order to go out there and figure out what’s wrong.  If they happen to stumble across other things that have nothing to do with your cold feet, like say the flu virus or a cold or that sinus infection you just can’t shake, well then all the better.




Essentially you are telling your body to go on high alert and so it does, which is perfect if you feel like you’re coming down with something or the guy who sits next to you has done nothing but cough for days. Your sleep during the wet sock treatment will be abnormally deep and satisfying and you will wake up toasty warm.  The best time to use this lifehack immune boost is:

  • When you feel like you’re coming down with something
  • When everyone else in the house is sick and you’re the last man standing
  • When the guy next to you at work coughs on you constantly
  • When your kiddo comes home from preschool covered in snot
  • When you feel done with it all and just need an awesome sleep
  • When you know you’ve been pushing too hard and you can feel your body wearing down
  • When your lungs or sinuses have been congested and you can’t seem to break it up

Times not to do this:

  • If you can’t make time for a full night’s sleep – you’ve got to give your body enough time to work on this.
  • If you are taking prednisone, other steroids, or immune suppressing drugs because they will suppress your body’s response.
  • If you try wet socks and wake up in the morning with the socks still wet – this means your body just isn’t generating enough heat right now to do this thing properly.

    Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

    Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

The Benefits of Wet Socks:

  • You get an awesome night’s sleep
  • Your body spikes an artificial fever which helps your body to kill any unwanted bugs like viruses or bacteria
  • Helps break up chest and sinus congestion
  • Elevated white blood cells which helps stop infections from taking hold
  • Quicker recovery from illnesses
  • All of this is free and you don’t have to take any pills

Working with your body and with your immune system in this way means that you increase your bug-resistance and can stop the early phases of viruses or bacteria in their tracks because your body goes on high alert quickly. It’s so simple and it’s so brilliant. Wet socks or “wet sock therapy” is a great, easy, free lifehack immune boost.



Positive Remembering: Amazing Lifehack for Trauma

You have the capacity to change the past through positive remembering, no matter how horrific it was or how much you’re still troubled by it. This amazing lifehack for trauma is so simple and yet so effective. Your brain is amazing.  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

You have no idea how much your brain is capable of and what it can actually accomplish – it genuinely is the greatest, most wonderful tool you will ever possess. Your brain can actually change and adapt to do whatever you ask it to do – including re-write your history.  The darkest, scariest, most nauseating parts of your history as well as the annoying, the humiliating and the humbling.  Your brain is the tool you need to heal those old wounds and to get happier because of it. Let’s call it Positive Remembering, and it’s such a powerful lifehack to cure a bad past.

All of us have bad memories from our own lives – some of those are little snapshot memories of one particular incident (like almost stepping on a snake in the woods) and some are entire chapters (like that whole relationship with He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, or that little thing called “childhood”). For many people these memories are there, but not called upon. Stuff happened and they’ve moved on and it doesn’t really matter. For others these memories are part of waking life – popping up at random times and interfering with emotions, happiness and even health. Positive remembering is the key to reducing the impact of those past traumas on your life now.

Positve remembering changes your mental stories. Once Upon A Time... It’s all just a story – why not make it a better one? Practice positive remembering

Positive remembering is a way to free yourself slowly from these negative memories and re-frame the whole experience into something less harmful, less emotionally charged and to allow some healing to happen.

Positive Remembering in the First 24 Hours

The first 24 hours after a trauma is a powerful time to impact the way your brain holds and stores that information.  In those 24 hours if you can focus on the good things that are happening, the people who love you, the help you received, the blue of the sky while you were flat on your back, the wonderful things in your life. By doing this the overall impact of the trauma will be greatly diminished because your brain lays down that memory differently and with less emotional charge. Of course this is also the hardest time to focus on the good things, and for many of us the traumas that concern us were years, if not decades, ago. Never fear, positive remembering works for long-past memories too.




Changing Your Past To Change Your Present

If you know that some negative part of your past is still there, haunting you then it’s time to take some proactive steps to changing that situation.  Nothing you do can change the past, but the great news is you don’t have to. You just have to change the way you think and feel about the past. We’re going to call that Positive Remembering. Here are some of the tools you can use to change those memories.  Try to use one of these, quickly, every time you are confronted with a negative memory and soon that memory will lose it’s power over you:

  • Feel Your Body – Notice what reaction your body has to the memory. Often you’ll clench your jaw, tense your shoulders, your heart rate will accelerate or your stomach will start grinding because your body is re-living the stress, anxiety, sadness or fear from that moment.  Consciously bring your attention to that part of your body and instead of focusing on the memory, focus on relaxing that body part. You can pretend there is a warm, soft light shining there, or the feeling of a warm blanket, or just imagine that part turning to water or melting.  If it’s your heart rate think of something that would calm your heart rate down like lying on a beach or getting a massage.  I know, there is a little bit of a “go to your happy place” feel to this, but if your body lets go of the tension from the memory then you’ll start to re-wire your brain to let go of some of the tension too.
  • Banish The Boggart – For anyone who isn’t a Harry Potter fan, a boggart is a type of creature that takes the shape of whatever you fear most (your memory). To banish it, you must laugh at it in a genuine and meaningful way.  This produced all kinds of hilarity in books and movies as the boggart of a hated teacher was forced into a hideous and embarrassing drag-grandmother ensemble, thereby giving Harry and friends a great laugh.  Much like boggarts, memories can be changed too. If you had a horrible car wreck that still wakes you up in cold sweats, you can positive remember it: picture the same scene but in bumper cars and give the whole thing a cartoon “boing” noise.  Make the whole thing as ludicrous as possible.  This works even with the really scary memories too. Just be creative – what would make that scene silly or ridiculous. Every time you have that negative emotionally charged memory, banish it with your newer, sillier version. It’s really hard at first, espcially if those memories are still raw but the more you practice the easier it becomes and the less that memory bothers you.
  • Give Yourself a Gift – Memories are yours to play with. Nobody says they have to actually look like what happened. They can look like whatever you want them to.  So why not give that story a happy ending?  Chances are in your bad memory you  needed something that you didn’t have at that moment. Positive remember it! If you’re remembering childhood trauma you may have needed a big hug from a kind adult and a teddy bear – so just add that part in. Any time that memory pops up, just add in the part where you get what you need at the end.  Sure bad stuff happened, but start telling your brain that at the end you got what you needed and your brain will start believing you.

Positive Remembering: Your Memories are Just Stories

I know this sounds kind of silly and ridiculous, but the point is that the things in your memory are over – they aren’t happening right this second.  Right this second you’re just fine. You are breathing, your heart is beating, you’ve had enough food and water to stay alive until this moment.  Whatever that bad memory was, it didn’t actually kill you and at the end of the day that means it’s all kind of okay (I believe at the end of the day it’s *always* okay even after the whole death thing, but for the sake of brevity we don’t have to discuss that part today).

Essentially those memories are just stories you tell yourself over and over again so lets just change the story into something you can live with, something that doesn’t make you feel hollow, something that will let you heal and move forward. Positive remember it and start to get out of the clutches of negative memory. It’s your story – so make it whatever you want it to be: RE-member it differently.  You’re not trying to sell yourself on this new version being the truth, you’re just softening up the whole picture every time it comes up and by doing that, you also soften up the effect it has on your overall level of joy. Positive remembering helps you rediscover the joyfulness buried under the rubble.