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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Men and Stress

Tips and tools for handling life’s pressures

by Amanda French

Men and women handle stress differently. Men find it more difficult to adjust to life’s pressure than women do, and can sink into anger and depression more frequently when they’re feeling burned out. 


Clinical psychologist Avantika Dixit has worked with men and women around the world battling mental health issues. A former tech entrepreneur and brain tumor survivor, Dixit has dedicated her life to helping people deal with the difficulties and disruptions that are unique to the modern era.

Her passion for supporting mental health led her to create Woke Hero, an online social therapy platform that’s like a virtual coach guiding people through life’s rough moments and helping them find meaning in their lives. 

“Outside of career and financial struggles, until 2020, the biggest stressors were major life events like divorce, death, illness or caring for a family member,” says Dixit. “The pandemic really turned up the switch on that,” she says.

 

Knowing and understanding the causes of stress and taking the time to focus on what’s happening within themselves can launch the journey toward peace of mind, she says.

Although men experience the same physical symptoms of stress that women do, recent evidence suggests that women are better at managing stress in general, and are far less likely to experience depression from work-related stress.

Men are also more likely to withdraw when stressed, which can introduce relationship issues. Stress is also a leading cause of psychological impotence.

“There is no reason for men to continue suffering,” says Dixit. “They’re not alone. There is a wealth of information … that can help them reset their minds to stay happy and on track with their lives.”

Dixit shares these insights:
 

Stress is a Global Phenomenon
The World Health Organization (WHO) has conclusively declared that 80% of global disease burden is attributed to stress.


Stress is a Chemical Reaction
Stress evolved as a biochemical response to keep us from danger. Short bursts of stress can even be positive — enhancing neuromuscular performance and motivation. Chronic elevations of stress hormones like cortisol and noradrenaline are what create the sense of fight-or-flight, and make us feel overwhelmed, anxious or apathetic.


Stress Triggers the Sympathetic Nervous System
Your body has an autonomic nervous system which goes into either sympathetic mode — the state in which you are reacting to a perceived threat, or in fight-or-flight response — or parasympathetic mode, wherein the nervous system prevents the body from overworking, restoring it to a calm and composed state.

Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system into overdrive, preventing rest and deep healing.


Watch What You Watch to Avoid Stress Triggers
Watching the news or engaging with certain social media content can lead to negativity bias — a state in which your brain perceives the world to be worse and more threatening than it actually is.

Humans have a bad habit of mentally giving more weight to things that go wrong than to things that go right. Just one negative event can cause a domino effect of negativity in our minds that can be damaging to our work, relationships, happiness and well-being.


Develop Your Brain, Feel Less Stress
The prefrontal and neocortex are the most recently evolved regions of the human brain and are also referred to as the “higher brain,” which is responsible for feelings of well-being and executive function.

Executive functions are what allow us to control short-sighted, reflexive behaviors. They also allow us to take part in things such as planning, decision-making, problem-solving, self-control and long-term goal planning. 
 
Dixit also shares these six evidence-based tips for preventing and coping with stress:


1. Conscience breathing

Breathwork practices are easily found on the internet at no cost. Three of my favorites are the alternate nostril breathing; the inhale, hold and exhale in a 1:2:4 pattern; and practicing simple, prolonged inhalation-exhalation.

All three stimulate the vagus nerve, which can switch your brain from sympathetic to parasympathetic function and can lower stress in as little as 30 seconds.
 

2. Acu-meridian stimulation, also known as tapping

This is a highly proven practice, where taps on key points on the hand, head, face, collar bone and chest activate the release of emotional or energetic blockages stored there. It takes less than five minutes to tap on oneself each day.

There are several free tapping resources online and you can take part in free tapping circles or groups in your community or online. Woke Hero also offers one.


3. Meditation and visualization

It has been shown that people who meditate a minimum of 20 minutes several times a week have brains with a more well-developed prefrontal cortex and neocortex.

Studies have proven that meditation and visualization can stimulate positive brain development in less than three weeks, and continued practice gives better results with time.


4. Simplification and Detox

Spending more time in nature, doing a “digital fast” for several hours each day, adopting mindfulness and simplifying life as much as possible can really help reduce stress.


5. Gratitude, Joy and Love

Oxytocin and serotonin are released when you think of, or participate in, acts of love, gratitude or joy. These “love hormones” are natural stress-removers.


6. Be organized and create rituals and predictability

By staying organized and creating rituals and predictable routines, you can better manage the areas of your life that you have control over.

Set achievable goals, remind yourself of the progress you’re making and celebrate when you hit milestones. 
 

To learn more, visit Woke Hero on Facebook.

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Men We Love, Part I

Our June chapters focus on great guys who inspire us

As Father’s Day approaches, we’re dedicating two June issues of èBella èXtra to men we love: their insights, their issues and their interests.

Here, we present profiles of NBC-2 anchorman Peter Busch and Feed Thy Neighbor founder Anthony (Tony) Mansolillo. Get to know two men who overcame obstacles in the face of COVID-19 in personal and humanitarian ways.

We take a look at stress and the unique ways it affects men, in particular, offering insight into identifying stressors and calming techniques, which are especially useful to men, but also work for women and children.

Interior designer Diane Torrisi talks about the stress she endured when she was temporarily without a home of her own and how she used that time for planning and gratitude.

And for the golfers among us — and there are so many — Heather Hall offers a special installation of Tech Talk that’s all about golf gadgets. Perhaps it’s a preview to Father’s Day gift-giving?

Speaking of Father’s Day, we’d like to know what you’re doing to honor your father this year. Send your Father’s Day traditions, old, new and especially creative, to inspireme@ebellamag.com.

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TECH TALK

Tech ‘Fore!’ You

Golf gadgets can help improve your game

by Heather Hall

If you’re passionate about the game of golf and want to enhance your technique, you may consider some helpful gadgets to give you a more powerful experience. 

They are not only designed to take a few strokes off your game, but they can give you a better understanding of the course you are playing, along with simply making your golf round a bit more enjoyable.

Garmin Approach S60

This popular GPS wristwatch looks great and has over 40,000 courses around the world preloaded. The sleek, 1.2-inch full color and touch display will give you distance to the green, water hazards and more. (About $349)

Garmin Approach G8

This compact and lightweight handheld GPS device is almost like a caddy.  Offering 15 hours of battery life, this integrated launch monitor can improve your golf technique with its accuracy. With a practice mode, you can refine your skills whenever you want. (About $349)

Nikon Coolshot 20 GII

Nikon is known for cameras, but they also design and manufacture some of the finest rangefinders in the industry. The Coolshot has a range of 550 yards, and it magnifies the target up to six times. This gadget will provide fast and easy distance assessment to bunkers, fairway ends, dogleg corners, and ultimately, the flagstick. (About $199)

Blast Motion Swing Analyzer

The Blast sensor attaches to any club with the standard or oversized attachment. This gadget allows golfers to swing the club or roll some putts anywhere, giving insight on forwarding rotation, power and swing speed. It’ll even take a video. You can sync this useful data to an app that allows you to analyze it at a later time. (About $149)

Former educator Heather Hall never imagined she’d be making one career of two passions: teaching and computers. She is the owner of Virtual Computer Services, installing and implementing technology for residents and small businesses.

 
 

COASTAL DESIGN

Home Sweet Home

Being in touch again with the importance of shelter, family and comfort 

by Diane Torrisi

In the pyramid of Maslow’s hierarchy, shelter is a component of the eight basic human needs. Without shelter, one cannot aspire to personal fulfillment.  

During this crazy housing transaction season, I decided to jump on the real estate bandwagon and list my home. It sold, and I found myself booking a hotel room for my two dogs and me as I searched for the perfect condo: ground floor, corner unit, a dog-friendly community. Easy, right? Wrong!

I’ll spare you the ups and downs of hotel life with pets and the many condo-association pet restrictions I discovered. 

This is not my first rodeo. I have moved about 18 times in my life. But new emotions took me by surprise as I transitioned, living in a hotel. 

This is where Maslow’s theory comes into play. If you are fortunate enough to have a place you call home, and if the pandemic has forced you to spend more time there than ever before, you may be less inclined to take it for granted. You may have even decided to make changes to your interior, refresh your color scheme or start all over.

(Every tradesperson I know thanks you for your business right now. We are busier than ever and are grateful for the work.)

While working long hours for my own clients, I was struggling with the emotions of feeling lost, with no home to retreat to at the end of my day. Let’s just say “Diane at Home Suites” wasn’t “Eloise at the Plaza.”

I missed that comforting feeling of belonging somewhere I could call my own. I missed cooking in my own kitchen. I missed Sundays trying out new recipes or brewing Earl Grey tea in my favorite cup.  

I was invited to a dear friend’s house for a home-cooked dinner, and I almost cried about how this simple meal fed not just my stomach, but my soul, as well. 

Before you start feeling sorry for me, I did find a great condo. It’s on the ground floor (not an end unit, though). It’s close to my design studio, and most importantly, it’s pet friendly. 

The silver lining is that I had time to plan for my next décor, right down to the kitchen hardware. I have gifted myself the pleasure of choosing exactly what I love and have wanted for so long.

 

My clients seem to have adapted that same attitude: Life is short, so let’s enjoy it. Maybe that darn pandemic brought us all back to the table (pun intended) so that we can get in touch again with the importance of home, family and comfort. 

As Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  

I’m so pleased to say I’m no longer aching for a place to call home.

Diane Torrisi grew up in Europe and brings that European flair to her design projects. She opened her own design studio in historic Bonita Springs in 2020. She is active in her community and has her own podcast, always dreaming up new offerings for her clients, from “Designer for a Day” to the upcoming “Studio Sessions,” a hands-on design workshop. Visit www.DianeTorrisiDesigns.com to learn more.

 
 
 

If you want to make sure someone you know also gets the èBella Extra, submit their email address in the box below or send their email address to inspireme@ebellamag.com.

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MEN WE LOVE

For the Love of Humanity

Veteran Tony Mansolillo nourishes Naples neighbors, body and soul, through his Feed Thy Neighbor initiative

by Kathy Grey

In March 2020, the pandemic stopped everything, and Anthony (Tony) Mansolillo started a food movement that became so much more.

Mansolillo, 76, is a service-disabled veteran, but he doesn’t like to talk about that.

“I use a cane or a walker. But I do alright to keep going,” he says.

His Herculean strength is reserved for helping people in need.

Humble Beginnings

Before Feed Thy Neighbor had a name and a nonprofit designation, Mansolillo was online more than usual because of the pandemic.

A lover of everything culinary, Mansolillo traded recipes with the online Nextdoor community. There, he connected with a lady who wanted to make one of his recipes, but couldn’t reach her stove.

“She’s only 4-foot-8 and can’t reach the stove from her wheelchair,” Mansolillo explains. “I made the recipe and gave her half. Another Nextdoor neighbor asked, too. Then a Silver Star (veteran) asked for a good meal. The next week, we did 21 meals a day. Now it’s 300 to 400 meals a day out of my kitchen.”

Mansolillo serves people who are out of work, broke and hungry.

Serving the Unseen

As people in need of a good meal reached out to him, Mansolillo went out and found them, sometimes a stone’s throw from where more fortunate people were building million-dollar homes.

One Naples resident told Mansolillo she didn’t believe there were homeless people in Naples.

“I said, ‘What?’ But this was a nice lady. She just didn’t see it. It’s not that they don’t care,” Mansolillo emphasizes. “You’ve got to be out there every day in the streets with these people. Nobody should have to live like that. Not in a country this rich.”

One woman living in a Naples retail parking lot for more than six months went unnoticed by shoppers. She’s one of hundreds of people who receive Mansolillo’s home-cooked meals.

Following an injury, John received a hand up from Feed Thy Neighbor until he could return to work.

Above and Beyond

Feed Thy Neighbor has expanded its help and reach.

Mansolillo joined forces with Kristin Weardon during the holidays and distributed more than 100 gifts to people who had nothing.

“We met a girl and her boyfriend living in a car,” Mansolillo says. “She got out of the car and had no shoes on.” Mansolillo and his helpers bought her shoes and a pair of pants for her boyfriend so he could look for work.

“She has asthma, like me. She needed a nebulizer, but she was living in her car.”

Mansolillo found a nebulizer online that could be plugged into the car’s console. Ultimately, he says, “She ended up getting into a hotel, got a job. He got a job, too, and they got their kids back.”

Anthony Mansolillo delivers food to hungry children.

Many of the homeless people Feed Thy Neighbor serves are addicted to substances that ruin their teeth. So Mansolillo makes soup.

“I cook the vegetables real soft and grind the meat so they can nourish themselves if they don’t have teeth. There’s no better feeling than handing somebody food who you know really needs it,” he says.

“One woman told me she was feeding her kids cereal and water and didn’t have enough to feed herself. She’d been working downtown as a bartender, living with a guy who bailed on her, leaving her with the kids.”

Because she couldn’t afford to register her car, she couldn’t get to a food pantry. She called Mansolillo on a Saturday. He went to Publix and bought her subs, a rotisserie chicken and microwaveable food.

“I brought her enough to get through Saturday and Sunday. We told her about Catholic Charities, and she got herself back on her feet, got back to work and they gave her enough money to register her car,” Mansolillo says.

“I feed everybody because ‘God don’t make no junk.’” That’s a saying he’s lived by since parochial school. “St. Francis gave up everything to help the poor and the needy. I think it’s a good way to finish up this life. And maybe they’ll make better decisions when they’ve got a full stomach. People will tell you it’s impossible. No, it’s possible.”

The Man Behind the Stove

Mansolillo moved to Pelican Bay in 1988. He later moved to an esteemed Naples neighborhood and remains active in his real estate and mortgage company. He’s connected with people in high places, most of whom are supporters of Feed Thy Neighbor.

But Mansolillo keeps a low profile, working “seven days a week, except when I’m asleep,” he says.

“One guy — a construction trucker — was disabled for months. He fell at home, broke three ribs and couldn’t claim anything. He had no insurance, couldn’t claim compensation.”

Feed Thy Neighbor stepped in.

“Now he’s going back to work and he’ll be donating to us,” Mansolillo says.

“I live my whole life for this. If I don’t feed them, who will?”

Still, Mansolillo can’t do it alone. Most of his snowbird volunteers have gone back north. He needs more helpers to cook, package and deliver meals to people who need it — for nutrition and for knowing somebody cares.

Mansolillo has many people to thank: The Collier Foundation; high-profile supporters; Meals of Hope, who provide 40% of his protein and vegetables; the couple who loaned their van for distribution through the summer; the checks that come in: “…sometimes $10; sometimes $1,000,” Mansolillo says.

And still, Feed Thy Neighbor spends $2,000 a week on Styrofoam containers and spices.

“I started this organization before we took donations and became a 501(c)(3). I started this out of my pocket, and I have to say it’s the best money and time I’ve ever spent in my life.”

 

To learn more about Feed Thy Neighbor, visit www.feedthyneighbor.us or call Tony at (239) 269-8000.

MEN WE LOVE

On this Side of the Screen

Talking vision and values with NBC-2 anchorman Peter Busch

by Kathy Grey

Peter Busch

He first showed up in our living rooms nine years ago, and we welcome him day after day, as if he’s part of the family.

Still, many of us don’t get the chance to sit with NBC-2 anchorman Peter Busch on the same side of the TV screen. Here, we get to know the real Peter Busch, who’s exactly like the guy who talks to us in our living rooms from the nightly news desk.

He’s intelligent, informed, articulate, somewhat reserved and loves a good dad joke.

But is he as nice as he seems on TV? His own answer is succinct: “I really think so.”

In person, most people tell the six-foot-four Busch that he’s taller than he seems on TV. And many thank him for not being uptight.

“My motto for TV is to be accurate and authentic,” Busch says. “I try to be an open book.”

COVID Connection

The clearest example of being an open book happened 10 months ago, when Busch was diagnosed with COVID-19. He shared his personal journey with viewers from his home office, where he quarantined for 18 days — separated from his wife and three young daughters.

He’s 41 and the picture of health. So his on-air announcement that he had COVID-19 came as a shock to the NBC-2 viewing public: The virus doesn’t discriminate. Busch had followed CDC prevention guidelines. His symptoms were comparatively mild. And he’s still not certain where he contracted the virus.

From his home office confines, he live-reported four NBC-2 segments and posted on social media almost every day.

“It wasn’t strange doing the reports,” Busch says, “but it was a difficult time — personally, for the family — because the kids didn’t quite understand if it was serious or not. They hear everything that’s going on in the world and then all of a sudden, their own daddy has COVID.”

Busch tried to assure his family that he was going to be fine.  

“My wife, for the first day or two, was really concerned. We had a talk about filling out a will. I’m getting choked up as I remember it. Just having that talk — through the glass door or on the phone one room over — made it all very real.”

Busch donated plasma “as soon as they would let me.” And as soon as it was approved for his age group, he was vaccinated. He’s a staunch advocate of the COVID-19 vaccine, and for good reason. It’s something he takes personally and very seriously.

Family Man

What he also takes incredibly seriously is his family: wife, Rachel, and daughters Victoria, 13; Vienna, 11; and Charleigh, 9.

“He’s a great dad,” says NBC-2 news co-anchor Kellie Burns. “His girls are his life,” Burns says, noting that Busch accompanied his eldest daughter to her COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

“A lot of people say you have to be 50/50 in a marriage, but he definitely gives 100% in all that he does,” says Busch’s wife, Rachel, who works full-time in the cybersecurity industry.

“His schedule allows him to be home during the day. He wakes up early, despite getting home from work so late, brings me coffee in bed, makes breakfast and lunch for the girls and takes them to school,” Rachel says, noting that her husband homeschooled their three daughters during the pandemic for more than a year.

Feminist

Busch is the lone male in a female-centric home, “blessed with healthy and very intelligent kids,” he says. His own male-centric upbringing (four boys, one girl) was also blessed with health and intelligence, but Busch admits he had a lot to learn about raising girls.

“It’s been an adjustment for me as a father to understand that girls are a lot different. (I learned) I’d better get smarter about how I parent them and teach them if I was going to be a good dad.”

He relied on Rachel for advice about raising girls, something he sums up this way: “Open your ears, shut your mouth and listen.”

“I’m a huge believer in female empowerment, Busch says.

“I say this to my wife a lot: ‘There has never been a better time in the history of mankind to be a woman.’ As we evolve and become more intelligent, and as the arc slowly bends toward equality, I am thankful that I have daughters. While there are still challenges they will face that men would not, a lot of those barriers are lower than they were a generation ago. 

“I don’t want to tell them what fields to go into. I want them to know that all options are available to them,” he says. “I’m evolving like a lot of other people. I want these girls to grab the world … to feel the freedom to do whatever they want with their lives.”

The Busch family: Victoria, Peter, Charleigh, Rachel and Vienna

The Real Deal

In addition to being what she calls “a great girl dad,” co-anchor Burns respects that Busch goes home to dinner after the 6 p.m. news, reads to his children and returns to the newsroom to prepare for the late report.

“He’s brilliant, unbiased and truthful,” Burns says. “And he has great hair,” she adds with a laugh. “He’s a journalist with a capital ‘J.’ He makes me want to be a better person.”

In others, Busch seeks the authenticity of character he prizes in himself. In a complex world, he hopes to instill that sort of self-actualization in his daughters and those he loves, which makes him one of the Men We Love.

His wife, Rachel, sees that. “There’s no one I’d rather be on this beautiful journey through life with.”