The other day I staged an “entertainment intervention” for myself, and it was a true emergency. I was prepping dinner and periodically flipping channels for mindless relaxation when I was shaken from my cooking zone by what can only be described as an assault on my ears. Actually, I’m fairly certain it was grating on my mind, heart, and spirit as well. What was it? From what I can gather there was a problem with some housewife in some city, somewhere in the world and it was blaring out of my television and into my home – my sacred, happy space – and actually starting to make me feel anxious.
Now normally there is no shame in my Housewives game because I thought – and would often joke with a friend – that watching reality shows was like taking my brain to the spa. I’d convinced myself it felt soothing to half watch or listen to these pseudo-entertainers ramble on about this or that crisis. But at that very moment, I felt anything but soothed. I was just agitated. And I don’t like feeling agitated. My mission, in fact, is to feel the opposite of that, as much as possible.
This experience led me to think about other “spa dates for my brain” I’d been making and the impact they may have been having on my spirit as well. I used to be a regular evening blog surfer and I’m embarrassed over what I allowed myself to read before drifting off into what I intended to be a peaceful slumber (consider this my Daily Mail addiction outed). Many of those websites and shows and blogs were regularly magnifying my stress (often without me knowing it) and doing it under the cloak of harmless entertainment.
Here’s the problem:
We know that we need to nourish our bodies but how often do we neglect the need to nourish our souls via what we read, watch and listen to? We fool ourselves into thinking these “candy for the brain” websites and shows are relaxing us and improving our moods. How wrong we are…
My dad used to tell us that we need to be very aware of how we’re “watering our garden” in our own lives. In other words, how are you taking care of your mind, your body, your spirit? Are your friendships watering it? Are the websites that you give your time to making your mind bloom and grow? Or are they filling the space with weeds or leading to decay – space that could be filled with other beautiful, amazing ideas and thoughts?
But wait, there’s more!
The thing is, it doesn’t stop at your spirit. Bad news and negative reading can impact your body as well (I’ll let you do the Google research on it). Discomforting and stressful situations produce stress hormones, and nobody wants those puppies filling their body, especially when they can be avoided! I encourage you to do a quick audit of what you’re watching, reading and listening to. Is it watering your garden or zapping your spirit? How do you feel after you’ve finished reading that website before bed, or watching that show while you work out? Is it worthy of being a part of your incredibly awesome existence (not to mention your limited amounts of time)?
It’s easy to brush aside the need to examine what you’re putting into yourself book/TV/website wise and it’s tempting to veg out with junk food for your soul, but let’s stop doing that. Just like putting crap into your body, the long term impact isn’t benefiting us. We’re better than that. Our minds are better than that. Our lives are better than that. We deserve better!
To help you truly take your brain to the spa I’ve created a list of some of my favorite places to read (aka feeding my brain and soul) and listen to when I’m online. Reading them is like a refreshing exhale for your spirit! Before you think, “Le sign, Sabina, are you going to bore us with a list of forced, dull reading?” think again! The websites, podcasts, and blog below are going to make you high five the air with a big “YES!” They’re going to fill you with ideas, inspiration, good energy, and optimism. They’re going to inform you and excite you! And yes, they’re going to take your brain to a spa that it deserves!
- Positively Positive – I can’t say enough about this site. It’s feel good without the fluff. It pulls from a myriad of amazing and inspiring uplifting writers, experts and transformational leaders that will leave you feeling optimistic and give you tools to make positive changes in your life. Every time I read the contributions to Positively Positive I think they must be hanging out in my head assessing what I need to get advice and insight into and plopping it into their editorial content plans. Trust me, you’ll feel the same way, so dance your fingers over the keyboard to the site!
- Upworthy – Upworthy says it best on their site, “Things that matter, pass it on.” Here’s the thing, much of what we read and listen to is the complete opposite, but this site curates videos and articles that range from health and humanities to justice to science and technology. It draws attention to things that truly matter, and will feed your brain and spirit as it does.
- Greatist – Sick of feeling bad about yourself, your body or your life when reading health-focused sites? Then hop on over to Greatist where they’re helping the world think about health in a healthier way. From recipes to empowering articles, the team at Greatist reminds us that “being healthy doesn’t have to suck.” Love it.
- Mic – Here’s the thing about being an active participant in your life and the world: you need to get the news, but you don’t want it to be watered or “dumbed” down. Enter Mic: They report on the news that matters to “our generation” and they do it well – dare I say better than nearly every other news site I follow. They know that we’re bright, that we want to make great change and that we want to be spoken to in a way that mirrors our engagement, our interest in everything from politics to pop culture and that we don’t want to be fed fluff. If you want honest, interesting news popping into your social feeds and your brain, bookmark Mic in your brain right now!
- Ted Blog – I have had several personal breakthrough moments while listening to Ted Talks via YouTube or the Ted site. Some of those Ted speakers who moved me include Brene Brown (author of Daring Greatly, her talk on the Power of Vulnerability changed the way I interacted with people in my life forever) and Jia Jang whose 100 Days of Rejection is a total must-watch-on-repeat. So much of what I read and watch on this site compels me to share it with others and change behaviors or thought patterns in my own life. As they say themselves, they offer “ideas worth sharing”.
- DarynKagan.com – Daryn left a career at CNN (where the news wasn’t always so positive) and went on to create her own media platform filled with feel-good and uplifting news stories. If you’re over feeling depressed and anxious when you turn on the television or open the newspaper, make an effort to get a dose of your news from Daryn on her website. You’ll find everything business stories to celebrity scoop, it’s guaranteed to leave you feeling better, and you’ll begin to remember once again that the world isn’t all bad after all!
- Mind Body Green – “MBG” is another must-visit site for those of us who want to feel better, get healthier (mentally and physically) and enjoy the process. Sure you’ll get your work-out moves and healthy recipes, but you’ll get it packaged in a way that makes you feel, “I can do this, I’m going to like it, I’m awesome and they’re going to help me be more awesome.” In the old days I definitely didn’t feel like that when I read health and wellness sites. If you want wellness information with a positive twist, this must be on your reading list! Sign up for the newsletter and it will be easily delivered to your inbox – a no brainer!
- Elizabeth Gilbert – How about if I told you that you could follow a Facebook feed that makes you feel like it just “gets” you, that taps into your vulnerable side, openly discusses feelings we often sweep under the rug or wonder if anyone else is sharing them, nurtures your creative desires and that feels like you’re having a very open chat with an old, trusted friend who is also profound, wise, and loving. That’s what Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page is for me. It’s genuine, at times it’s really raw, but nearly every post calls me to say “YES” out loud. Get up on that goodness folks!
- Bex Life – I’d like to think the universe intervened when I found BexLife. I was having an “I’m about to lose my cookies” moment and Googling meditation to deal with stress. I found her and I was hooked, but not just on her meditations. I was also addicted to her honestly, her openness, her personal story, and her advice. She talks truthfully about dealing with her own anxiety, about her life as a mother of five (!!), about her entrepreneurial journey and more. That truth will hook you and makes her meditations she leads regularly (online) even more powerful.
For good measure let’s give you a glimpse into what I’m listening to lately as well…
- Farnoosh Torabi’s So Money Podcast – Though this podcast led by financial dynamo and expert Farnoosh is rooted in talk about money, it’s really a daily journey into talking about all the other things finances impact in our lives: relationships, self-confidence, self-worth, professional life, personal life…And it’s all told through interviews with well-known authors, leaders, speakers, coaches, and personalities! Side note: First of all, these interviews are impressive and will really impact how you think about your money and your life, but can we also have a second of all moment? Here it is: Farnoosh produces a new interview every. single. day. Well done Farnoosh, and thank you!
- The Chopra Center Meditation – It’s probably no secret at this point that meditation is a powerful part of my life, but trust me, it wasn’t always. I used to roll my eyes when people talked about it and definitely had to ease my way in…One way I did this (and still do) is via the guided meditations found at the Chopra Center. They’re in 21 day packages (choose the ones that suit your needs), and each day provides you with a quick message, some powerful insight from Deepak Chopra (and at times the Big O herself, Oprah), and then a daily meditation – all of which takes no longer than 20 minutes to do. If I could beckon you to do one thing this summer that will change the way your days go, this would be it!
- The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes – I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon Lewis Howe’s podcast, but I’m forever grateful I did. Now when I describe it to you, “former pro athlete turned entrepreneur” I was a bit skeptical. I’m not even close to sporty and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect with him and his message. Let’s just say my first “test listen” led to a day of playing the School of Greatness while I worked around the house. Some of you may be looking for business advice. Some of you may be looking for life advice and inspiration. You’ll find a bit of both here, and several interviews to choose from to satisfy those cravings. One of my favorites was his chat with Julianne Hough – I fell for her even more after she shared so much of herself with Lewis and all of us and was struck by how honest it got! Another interview I loved? This one with Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber’s manager, businessman, philanthropist) – another must listen!
Now it’s time to share the love:
Have some friends who could use a little upgrade in terms of their online reading material? Do them a favor and tweet them this list!
- Are the blogs you read secretly stressing you out? Here is my reading list for mind and soul Click To Tweet
- Need to take your brain to the spa in the best possible way? This reading list will get you there! Click To Tweet
What websites, books, podcasts – you name it – nourish your mind and spirit? Please share them in the comments below!