As I contemplate living fuller, healthier, longer and, simply, better I usually approach it from some very basic principles. Exercise hard, and regularly. Don’t eat (too much) crap. Get good quality sleep. Decompress and destress. Mostly you see me writing about exercise and diet but today I want to talk about destressing and decompressing.
I’ve touched on it before; stress is a killer (anxiety, weight gain, heart disease, weakened immune system, poor sleep and more). That being given, reducing your stress would be ideal. Of course, reducing your stress can be something of a challenge; we all have bills to pay and kids to raise, and jobs and family are probably our biggest sources of stress.
So, if we can’t reduce our stress, we need to mitigate its effects on our lives. In the linked post I wrote about cortisol, the stress hormone. It is when we let it build up in our systems that we feel the negative health effects. The solution, then, is to bust up the cortisol, and when I say “destressing,” that is pretty much exactly what I mean; bust the cortisol.
For me the number one method is exercise as vigorous exercise metabolizes cortisol. Number two is a good night’s sleep, because same. Fortunately, vigorous exercise helps lead to better sleep, so the two are tied together.
There are other ways; meditation, diet, prayer, breathing exercises, and while I recommend all of the above, according to your beliefs, tastes and inclinations, today I want to talk about…connecting and disconnecting.
You see, socialising is also a way to decompress and destress. Make a new connection, renew an old connection, get together with friends and…do nothing.
Wait, wut? Nothing?
Well, yes. And, no.
I don’t mean sit around staring into the void (unless you really want to), I mean do something that is disconnected from your busy life. Go out. Go to a game, a concert, a bar. Play a game, go fishing, take a walk in the park, whatever tickles your fancy, but disconnect from the background noise of life, and work, and career, and just be. Accomplish nothing, and in the process, accomplish so much.
And when I say disconnect from the background noise, I mean it. Ditch the phone. That little hunk of electronics so pervades our lives that I’ll bet you have trouble leaving it behind.
But do it, and you’ll be glad you did.
Last June I took the family up to my parents’ cottage for a few days. Mom and Dad hadn’t got the place fully opened yet, so there was no internet. This was a matter of some distress for my kids…no Netflix, no computer or phone games, just nature and family, and horror of horrors, when we were inside we had to play board games and read actual paper books.
And it was glorious. A few days of disconnection from the trivial led to a renewed, deepened connection to the real and “the best cottage week ever.” (The actual words of my oldest, after he got over the pain of withdrawal.)
So disconnect, and reconnect, and live better for it.