5 Tips On How To De-Stress

If you’re similar to most people, you likely feel all the encumbrances of beating upon you each day. Perhaps work isn’t going as you imagined. Maybe your supervisor has been in an irksome mood recently, and you’re feeling the acute stress of additional responsibilities. Your children are likely home for the summer; and your comfortable sphere of domesticity has been altered from a peaceful abode to an environment teetering on outright freneticism.

You’re stressed. It’s alright. Life was not contrived for the faint of heart. We’re here to suggest a few simple techniques to ameliorate the pressures of your daily routine. To help you gain mental clarity, so you can cultivate the proper orientation necessary to pursue each successive day with vigor.

1. Self-Reflection – Stress

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Let’s posit a scenario: You’re in transit on your morning commute. The roads are commodious. There’s a sprinkling of a neighboring automobile here and there, but otherwise, the roads are obfuscated by nothing. Morning sunshine begins to beam through the obscuring marine layer soothingly, and you cooly slide on your Ray Bans. You’re on time, sleekly dressed, with nothing but the impending work day lurking before you.

You turn onto the on-ramp, and to your chagrin, you encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic. Your mood instantly turns sour at this cruel turn of fate. Your mind promptly beckons to unsalutary things, accumulated worries that have not been properly reckoned with. Caught in the inertia of your morning commute, your fingers slightly tingle, your hair begins to stand on edge. The drumbeat of your heart escalates.

Suddenly, a bellicose driver cuts you off. The spark has been ignited, you’re in no mood for impropriety behavior now. Like an anvil, your hand hammers the horn and you fling a few verbal expletives in the other driver’s direction. Your explicit reaction fails to imbue you with any serenity or modicum of calm. Alas, the day has been ruined. The odds that it will now turn around seem dismal.

In this instance, and in instances akin to it, its important to ask oneself: Why did I get so angry over something so trivial? Was it really the traffic, or the brusque actions of a fellow driver, that elicited this response? Or was it something deeper, a delayed reaction to an internal incongruency you haven’t yet properly dissected or ruminated upon?

At the end of the day, catalog your behavior. Journaling is an ancient past-time for a reason. Not only can you engage in stream-of-consciousness thinking, commenting on all the vagaries transpiring throughout the day; you can divest yourself from instantaneous reactions that bespeak an internal unease. In the pages of your reflections, ask yourself challenging questions. Elaborate and expand upon the situations that triggered you. Only upon acknowledgement of our own internal inconsistencies can we then establish solutions to mediate them.

In short, it’s never about the traffic, at least entirely. The genesis of your problems is in your own mind. Only you can work to rectify that.

2. Write a Gratitude List – Stress

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How many of us apportion time during our day to create a space for gratitude? A small few, I’d wager. Life is dripping with chaos, but that does not mean it is bereft of blessings.

Are you healthy? Are your children healthy? Are your grandchildren healthy? Do you have a roof over your head today, food on your table and a soft mattress to fall asleep on? Be grateful.

Do you have a job, even if its not the one you imagined in your childhood fancies? Can you pay your bills? Do you have a rudimentary amount of savings for the inevitable “rainy day?” Be grateful.

Do you have companions you can name friends? Are there people you can rely upon in a proverbial storm? Have you crafted memories with these compatriots that you can reflect on with fondess? Be grateful.

Are you lucky enough to have attained the status to enjoy life, rather than merely survive it? Do you possess luxuries like a television, a mobile phone, a video game consule, a collection of records, a small library of books? Be grateful.

Very often, we glance too narrowly upon the canvass of our lives. Instead of acknowledging the wealth we do possess, we instead ruminate on what we have yet to earn. Do not mire yourself in such wasteful dislocation. Give thanks, everyday, for the fundamentals. Write it down legibly and review it often. Don’t complain, everyone’s heard it. It’s become too fashionable to indulge in sob stories these days. Break the trend. Remind yourself instead, of what it is you do have. Not only will it mollify your stress, you’ll a establish a more fruitful perspective on life.

3. Set Goals and Verbalize Them – Stress

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Never countenance stultification in your life. A life transfixed in ambivalence is a stressful one. But, also, never mistake activity for achievement. The winds of a sail could be working vigorously, but if the course of a boat is set on an improper course, you will still find yourself marooned at a location unfit to your liking.

Industriousness is critical to accomplishing one’s long-term objectives. Nothing won was won without hard work. But ascendence from objective to accomplishment is intertwined with an astute sense of direction. Before walking a path, you must first arrive at the trailhead.

  • It all begins with the articulation of a clear long-term objective. Write it down first. State it plainly, without equivocation. Wait for your objective to gain resonance, to manifest fully.
  • Verbalize your objective to your counterparts and peers. Sharing your desires helps to oxygenate them. If you communicate your goals, not only are you held to account for your successes, you’re reprimanded for your failures – Or for failing to try at all. Utterance makes the illusory nature of your goals more tangible, like aestheticizing an empty space.
  • Next, chart the course, setting short-term markers to periodically assess progress; implementing changes in accordance with your successes and failures. For instance, if your aspiration was to be a head basketball coach, you’d have to inculcate a set of expectations as you begin your journey. You’ll have to develop a working knowledge of the sport. You’ll likely have to apprentice under assistant coaches, and eventually the head coach. Ultimately, over time, you’ll hopefully receive an offer to be a head coach, yourself, for which you are equipped to handle. But it is a process, it isn’t instantaneous. Don’t quail at the first sign of inertia.  
  • In the end, hopefully you are successful, and your long-term objective will be fulfilled. Once that comes to pass, it is time to set a new goal. Stagnancy should never be allowed.

Establishing goals consistently helps to alleviates stress. Aimlessness is antithetical to the fulfillment of aspirations. Casting oneself into a purgatory breeds resentment and provides fertility to a stressful temperament. Point your arrow, and even it seems foolhardy, aim. Moreover, once you have admitted to yourself you desperately want something, share it with trusted sources. We all require others to share in our burdens and hopes. Nothing worthy of being constructed or engineered can be built without sturdy foundations of support and accountability. Verbalizing your goals expedites the materialization of your goals, engendering an additional source of validation in your aims.

4. Compile a Weekly Stress List – Stress

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Previously, I intimated that incarnations of stress, physical assertions of their presence, manifest as a consequence of internal states laden with strife. I proposed journaling as an effective antidote to mental chaos, a forum to affix pen to paper in order to individually explore and postulate.

It would be a misinterpretation of my words to attest, however, that I do not believe in the verity of external triggers. They are very real and do culminate in unacceptable and entirely avoidable responses.

Let’s posit a second scenario: You’re in a discussion, via the phone, with your partner. Your domestic life has become tumultuous recently, with combativeness replacing the isolative disdain you had both previously exhibited toward each other. There’s the occasional, “Hello, how are you?” and “Goodbye, have a good day,” but those abbreviated exchanges are terse and intermittent. Romantic impulses have all but been expunged from your relationship.  

You converse on the phone, one day, determined to at least make a mutual acknowledgement that a problem exists. You detail the germinations of your own disquiet, while also speculating as to what may be the source of hers. She objects to your suggestions and impetuously hangs up the phone. Conversation ended. No working solution has even been hypothesized. You become triggered, upset, more prone to erratic behavior; and less disposed to continue a conversation constructively.

 Do not stew on your partner’s ill-constructed response. Note, instead, its impact on you. What emotions were stirred? Vengefulness? Resentment? Anger? Under-appreciation? It’s important to document both the nature of the external stimuli, in this case the dropped call; as well as the internal response it invoked. Practice this over the course of several weeks, documenting trifles that nevertheless catalyzed overly negative reactions in yourself.  Gently suggest, sometime during that interval, your partner do the same.  At some point, exchange your lists to view the predominant culprits of your anxiety. In all likelihood, you’ll discover you are not the exclusive source of your partner’s travails; you are a simply a reservoir for which she can comfortably filter her dissatisfaction. And that you also use her similarly.  Once that accord is reached, hypotheses for rectifying the tension undergirding your interactions can be addressed maturely.

Sourcing the genesis of external triggers will broaden your capacity to understand not only your own angst, but your partner’s as well. Her resentment, and your resentment often spring from variables completely beyond your circumference of control. As with most things, and especially so with relationships, honesty is fundamental in deriving sustainable curatives for coping with stress. Communicate what is perplexing you, as frequently as you can.

5. Breathing Exercises – Stress

Breathing is a motor function, an automatic process that we rarely consider or allocate thought to. Inhale, exhale. It’s easy. Nothing to fret over, or apply due diligence toward.

Yet, if medical data evinced the effectiveness of controlled breathing in decreasing blood pressure, calming the sympathetic nervous system, improving digestion, and regulating your mood – Wouldn’t your curiosity be piqued? Well, we’ll satiate your curiosity: According to the Department of Health and Human Services, exercises like “qigong” have medical applications to many chronic illnesses, including anxiety, depression, Fibromyalgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s disease, and heart failure.

And it makes sense, from the laymen’s perspective. Inadequate oxygenation obviously is not a recipe for physical homeostasis.

Qigong is popular in traditional Chinese medicine and is particularly utilized in aging demographics. In passive qigong, sit in a comfortable upright position, close your eyes, and breath in and out repeatedly, with emphasis on your diaphragm. For approximately 10 minutes, simply sit and breathe, taking note of the energy entering and exiting your body. Conversely, in active qigong, the idea is to proactively keep your body in sustained movement. For active qigong, it is best to participate in the exercise with others, for the purpose of instruction and community.

Think of the practice of breathing, conceptually, as a metaphor for your own life. For example, when you inhale, you are symbolically breathing in the external stimuli of the environment, absorbing what the world has to offer. Your lungs and mind are your receptors, perceiving how to correctly distinguish new input and new information. When you exhale, or breathe out, your perceptions have been molded, you have crafted your responses; and those responses are assertions of who you are, the sum of an ongoing equation. The internal and external have been inextricably linked through the act of breathing, a peculiar happenstance.

The benefits of qigong are still being examined, but there is little extant data available to attest that it lacks efficacy. Try it and determine whether or not it is has utility in your life.