Jamie used to dread those Saturday nights when she didn't have her kids, a date lined up, or other social plans. Studies have also shown increased activation in the area of the brain that affects perspective. Most of us spend a lot of time fantasizing about the future or wishing things were as they used to be, or that we could change the past. However, the only opportunity to influence what happens next is to do something different in this moment. Mindfulness helps us to do that by bringing the present moment into our awareness. All of us will experience stress at some point. Even a positive event, such as a wedding or having a baby, can be stressful. Although stress is often spoken of as a negative thing, we can experience good stress--the buzz of doing a performance or delivering a presentation, perhaps. We all need to be stretched intellectually and physically in order to grow and develop, and when this happens without overstretching our resources, we thrive. It can be just as stressful to be under-challenged as overstretched. The stress reaction So, the prize is never what diets tend to imply: reaching a particular weight. The prize is a better life. That's really what we want. But what if dieting makes life worse? What if being on a diet is unpleasant and alienating? What if the arbitrary rules imposed by the phases of any given diet make it awkward and unpleasant to interact with family or enjoy a holiday? These, to me, are all indications you are on a dubious path, heading toward a dead end. Dieting generally invites us to alter the choices we make, without attending to the choices we have. That approach leaves you confronting temptation and the risk of relapsing every day.

You will likely stay the course only until the peak of your will power erodes. Many of her married friends were content to spend time at home with their husbands after a busy week, even if they were simply organizing the pantry or doing laundry before watching a movie. There's a different kind of pressure to have an exciting Saturday night when you're single, Jamie says. It was hard to enjoy a Saturday at home alone. I felt really isolated initially. When she stayed in reading a article or watching TV, she felt like she was missing out on all the fun that everyone else seemed to be having. That began to change when she attended her first meeting of the Maplewood Divorce Club. These amazing women were getting through it, and it made me feel like I would, too, she says. In addition to having monthly support meetings, the members of the group would often meet for drinks, movie dates, casual dinners, and more. I now had all these new friends to go out with on Saturday nights, Jamie says. Jill and Suzanne launched the Maplewood Divorce Club to be able to offer to other women the experience of being heard and supported that had been such a big help to them. When a threat is perceived, the amygdala (the most primitive part of the brain) activates the alarm, putting the body on high alert. This is called the stress reaction and it is the body's way of keeping us safe. It can only cause problems when it is activated needlessly and repeatedly. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, flood the body, and long-term bodily functions to do with growth, such as digestion and reproduction, shut down so as not to waste valuable resources. Everything is geared toward surviving that moment--the fight or flight response. Pupils dilate to improve sight, hairs stand on end to pick up vibrations, the body evacuates any unnecessary weight so it can run faster (hence the need to go to the toilet), blood is diverted away from the surface of the body in case of wounding, and the heart begins to pound so blood can be pumped faster around the body. In the meantime, the brain continues to collect additional information about the situation from the senses, memories, and associations to determine if the perceived threat is real. If it isn't, the body stands down and the long-term growth functions resume. Having butterflies in the stomach is a sign that the digestive system is shutting down.

Chronic stress Lasting change involves adjustments to our environments - home, work, and other - so that good choices predominate. The choices we make are always subordinate to the choices we have, and dieting neglects this - goading us to make good choices while surrounding ourselves with the same bad ones we had before. Focus on eating well as a household for the long term, not the quick fix. Talk about doing it together with those you love for the best of all reasons: because you love one another, and want one another to enjoy a bounty of both years in life, and life in years. Help and encourage one another, and modify your home environment so only good choices are available. If you need new skills, like food label literacy , or cooking, to make those good choices - then acquire them. Why should lifelong vitality be any different? In my view, dieting, for the most part, should die. I think you are likely to live longer and better if you embrace that truth, too. The overall environmental impact food production for human consumption, and thus of prevailing dietary patterns, is massive by any relevant measure . There's nothing like someone who knows what you're going through at a time that most other people in your life can't relate to your struggles, says Suzanne. Jill and I had given each other that support and wanted to replicate it in our divorce club, which became a place where you could let your guard down and talk about how you're really feeling. Knowing we had people we could turn to in our time of need went a long way toward lessening stress and loneliness during challenging times. Numerous studies find that social support is essential for your physical and mental health. Having a support system can increase your sense of belonging, boost your feeling of self-worth, and help you feel more secure, because you have people you trust sharing their advice, guidance, and information. As news of the divorce club got around, women as well as men in neighboring communities asked for our playarticle to start their own groups. We share this information here so that people everywhere can learn how to launch their own group and benefit from the loving support of friends who know your deepest struggles, are there for you in a pinch, and help make the journey more fun. We had our first Maplewood Divorce Club meeting in the spring of 2013 at a local bar. To our surprise, more than fifty women attended our first meeting.

You may only know a few other women who are going through a divorce right now, but once you post information about the group and tell friends about it, you will likely discover that there are plenty of women interested in joining. If the stress reaction is activated only periodically, there is no harm done. In fact, it is reassuring to know that everything is working as it should. However, if we are feeling stressed all the time, the body is thrown into turmoil: the heart is put under pressure; The more frequently the amygdala is activated, the more sensitive it becomes--thus we get caught in an unhelpful loop of reactivity. This can impact on us physically and mentally in the long term. Therefore the quicker we can spot the early signs of stress and take action, the better. Helping ourselves As well as having an inbuilt stress reaction, the body also has an inbuilt calming response, which slows the heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and restarts the long-term growth functions of the body. One way to activate this deliberately is through practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness will also help us to spot the early warning signs (physical and psychological) that we are under pressure and we can then take wise action. Prevailing food choices have implications for water utilization, land use, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and more . In general, dietary shifts from animal foods to plant foods reduce adverse environmental impacts, at times very substantially . In general, dietary shifts from highly processed to minimally processed foods reduce adverse environmental impacts, at times substantially . In general, selecting locally sourced foods in season has favorable environmental implications. There rare subtleties of the locavore concept, however. Locally grown produce that depends on energy-intensive farming methods in a cold climate could have a greater carbon footprint than produce grown in a warm climate and transported . In general, the fundamental truths of diet for better human health tend to apply to environmental health as well: a primary emphasis on whole, unprocessed or minimally processed plant foods, and plain water for thirst . Some time in 2016, I added this statement after my email signature: As I learn ever more from environmental experts, I find that our debates about diet for human health are apt to become moot very soon.

The impact of our prevailing diets on the planet is fast becoming the only thing that really matters. The divorce club meetings have given me a place where I can talk about what's really going on in my life. They have been a lifeline. Women opened up about challenges they hadn't been able to share with anyone else. They talked about disappointment, financial worries and fear. Tears were shed. Hugs were exchanged. At the end of the meeting, many of the women stuck around for an additional half hour, mingling and chatting. Several of the members told us how much being there meant to them. Here's an overview of what you need to know to start a divorce club in your community. Consider a local bar or restaurant on an off night, as we did for our first meeting. When we are experiencing chronic stress, we tend to give up things that are seen as optional extras--for example, going out with friends, enjoying a hobby, or attending night school--perhaps because we are physically tired, working late, or continually caught up with family demands. Whatever the reasons, our world becomes narrower and narrower. These activities nourish us and are essential to our well-being, so if you find you have dropped them during a busy period, make a conscious effort to pick them up again. It is also important to remember that we only have so much in reserve. We can often cope with stress initially but, as time passes, the body becomes more vulnerable due to age and the demands placed on it. This is why as we get older we often find ourselves less able to cope with things that previously left us unfazed. Here are some helpful activities that may help you cope with stress. This is helpful in the moment but also essential on an ongoing basis. Many of the activities (see articles 68-94) will help you to become familiar with your own early signs of stress--these may be physical or behavioral or even particular thought patterns.