Relaxation 101: A Guide to Destressing

Two years ago, I was stressed all the time. I woke up every morning with some responsibility or pressure weighing on my mind. One day, I looked in the mirror and asked myself if this was really the right way to live, and I concluded that being stressed was actually a terrible use of my time and energy.

Stress drains our emotions and leaves us with less time to focus on more productive activities – such as finding new business opportunities. It also makes us less fun and interesting to be around, which hurts our earning potential.

With that in mind, I resolved to change this part of my life. Since then, I’ve substantially reduced my stress levels and actually become more productive along the way. Here are the steps I took; I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Step 1: Identifying Stress Points

The first part of de-stressing is to identify the cause (or causes) of your stress. Why do you feel the way you do? Here are a few questions you can ask to help focus in on the main issues:

Am I too critical of others? It’s easy to point fingers at other people. Too often, I find myself getting worked up over other people’s issues – little things that don’t really matter. This is a waste of time. It creates stress and can often put a strain on relationships.

What are the major sources of stress in my life? The first step in being more relaxed is to understand the sources of stress. This isn’t a question we enjoy asking ourselves; after all, no one likes to confront their biggest stress points. But it’s an important question to ask: if you don’t understand the problem, you can’t determine the solution.

Am I holding any grudges? Grudges are the ultimate black hole. They suck up our energy and breed hostility and resentment. The worst part is that they inhibit our ability to make the best decisions.

Do I give myself permission to fail? Failure is scary. We don’t like being judged by others for our mistakes. But accomplishing great things requires risk. In order to succeed, you must give yourself permission to fail. Otherwise, you’ll constantly miss out on the high-reward opportunities.

What activities do I perform that give me the least joy? Do they really need doing? Can I delegate or pay someone else to do them? A few years ago, I felt overwhelmed by my work. I was spending at least a few hours a day on useless or mundane tasks that weren’t the best use of my time. My first step was weed out all the unnecessary activities.  I also brought on a virtual assistant who helps me with miscellaneous projects like data entry. Although this cost me a bit of money, the time saved was well worth it.

Am I giving enough time to nurturing/replenishing myself? I recently had coffee with my friend who works a hundred hours a week at a major investment bank. When I asked him what he did to relax and rejuvenate, he gave me this look and said “are you crazy. I don’t have any time for stuff like that.”  It’s important to take some time for yourself, not just to keep your sanity, but to recharge your batteries so that you can be most effective when you’re actually working.

Do I rebound quickly when something goes wrong? In 1991, the Chicago Bulls were in a tense playoff series with the Detroit Pistons. Michael Jordan missed a crucial shot that ended up costing them the sixth game. He was initially so depressed that he brought the whole team’s mood down. But the next day, he was in great spirits. “Don’t worry guys,” he said. “We got this.” The team perked up, and the Bulls ended up winning the series…and their first of three consecutive championships. The lesson: all of us – even MJ -  feel down when things go badly. The important thing is to quickly get back on your feet.

Am I kind to myself? Be nice to yourself once in a while. Sleep in one morning. Treat yourself to a night out. The ideal time for this is after you’re accomplished something. Boost your self-esteem by celebrating your successes. This provides you positive reinforcement for the good work you’ve done.

Am I being authentic?  Do I allow myself to be me?  Am I trying to be somebody I’m not? It’s good to adapt your personality to the needs of different situations, but sometimes we take it to the extreme. At the end of the day, you’ll do best by playing to your strengths and passions. Play to the needs of the situation, but not at the expense of being true to yourself.

Step 2: Eliminate Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are a part of life. Anyone who says that they think positively all the time is not being true to their emotions. But it isn’t easy to deal with negative thoughts – they bog us down and sap our motivation. Here are six questions that can help you shift back to a more positive mindset.

Do I constantly dwell on the past? It’s good to learn from the past, but you should never let it bog you down. We all make mistakes; the key is to learn from them and apply those lessons to the present. Don’t waste time thinking of what could have been. Instead, focus on achieving your goals right now.

Do I let other people’s negativity affect me? It’s easy to let other people get you down. A few years ago, I had a boss who was going through some personal issues. For several months, he’d always have a gloomy attitude towards everything. I found myself getting depressed just being around him. This is a dangerous trend. Just because someone else is negative doesn’t mean that it should affect you.

Do I forgive myself? This has been a struggle for me. I’ll come down hard on myself whenever I make a mistake. The worst part is that I waste a lot of time and energy beating myself up. Instead, I could have focused on fixing the problem.

Do I smile and laugh often? My grandfather has been in a great mood lately. Why? He recently joined a laughing club. No, I’m not kidding. He and his friends get together once a week to tell jokes and laugh uproariously. It sounds silly but it works wonders. So smile and laugh as much as you can. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel.

What am I most looking forward to right now? A night out with your friends, some family time, or a weekend getaway? The next time you’re feeling down, take a moment to think about what you are looking forward to in your life. A great way to put things in perspective

Am I giving enough time to nurturing/replenishing myself? We live in a workaholic culture. Taking time for replenishing is often looked at as a sign of weakness. But being a workaholic is not healthy, and certainly does not make you more productive. Instead, think about how you can take some time to rejuvenate. You’ll reduce your stress and will actually be more productive over the long run.

Step 3: Listen To Music

Ok, I admit that this is more of a personal technique. For me, music has always been a sanctuary; a world where I can go to recharge and gather my thoughts. Here are five songs that I find myself returning to whenever I need a boost. I hope you find them as helpful as I have.

Rachmaninoff Prelude In G Major. This rendition is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard.

Pastoral Symphony, First Movement, by Ludwig Von Beethoven: This piece was made famous in this clip of Disney’s Fantasia. Watching it always puts a smile on my face.

Liebestraum, by Franz Liszt. One of the most romantic songs ever written, this piece never fails to take me to a happier place.

Love Story/Viva La Vida. Adaptation by Jon Schmidt, originals by Taylor Swift and Coldplay. This is a cello and piano medly of this two pop songs. Very powerful stuff.

Waltz in A-Flat Major, Brahms. Simple and Beautiful. A great way to recharge in just two minutes.

Precious Retreats: Some pretty interesting recordings that are pretty relaxing.

What Are Your Best Methods For De-Stressing? Please Share in the Comments

4 Responses to “Relaxation 101: A Guide to Destressing”

  1. [...] Relaxation 101: A Guide to Destressing | There's Money Everywhere [...]

  2. Watching a football game that I'm not betting on or emotionally tied to with guy friends while drinking beer…lol.
    Really – I find that writing everything that is on my mind down helps alot. Then I can make a list of how to address the things that I'm stressed about – and anything I can't address I know there's no reason to worry about.

    • Vik says:

      Haha, yeah sometimes distractions can help too! But more often than not, actually writing things down helps confront the problem and thus actually get to the root of it =)

  3. [...] don’t stress about the unknown and the uncontrollable. Instead, focus on the activities where you do have some [...]

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