Let’s face it, chronic stress is a modern day health epidemic...especially in work-a-holic and anti-sleep cultures like America.
If your day-to-day life is anything like my old corporate 7 to 5 as a geologist in the oil industry, sleep deprivation, high stress projects and long car commutes to and from work probably leave you feeling like a spaced out zombie most of the time.
And even if you’re super dedicated to your health and fitness finding ways to cram exercise and extracurriculars (like martial arts or yoga) in outside your long work hours, eventually, such physical stressors may just add to precariously stacked shit-pile of chronic stress you’re already under.
To add insult to injury, you probably never truly relax on vacations, holidays, weekends, , or even long lunch breaks. You've been indoctrinated by a career-first culture that doesn't allow you to disconnect from the office. Thoughts of looming deadlines or a fast growing email inbox are always on your mind.
Look, it’s important to realize that your body can only handle properly dosed, acute stress well (known in medicine as the Minimum Effective Dose). After the dose has been applied, the body then requires time to recover to produce a positive adaptation to better handle a similar or greater intensity stress in the future.
What the body can not withstand (for very long) is chronic stress.
Chronic stress will CRUSH you over time! If you interrupt recovery with never ending stressors like mountains of work, a poor diet and over-exercising, you’ll soon find yourself falling into debilitating chronic stress that will become increasingly difficult to recover from.
It’s important to find ways to manage your cumulative stress levels by adopting restorative practices along with prioritizing recovery. However, jumping into excellent stress relief practices like seated meditation or yoga practices (which I HIGHLY recommend!) can be intimidating for many people to stick to...especially in an already hectic schedule.
Finding the time to sit quietly with your mind or falling off the bandwagon after only a few days may just add to your already crazy levels of emotional stress.
Don't let your big goals keep you from getting started though! There are some amazing passive (dare I say lazy?) methods you can use that kick ass and will likely be game changers for you.
I'm going to briefly introduce my 5 favorite chronic stress relief strategies below (all simple and completely passive!). I will then unpack each one in great detail in future posts so stay tuned!
Float tanks are the crown jewel in your modern stress relief toolkit.
The Float House (A float Spa out of Vancouver) put this great introductory video together to explain the practice and its numerous benefits:
Another amazingly simple stress relief technology is vibrating yourself on a high frequency shake plate (usually 40Hz to 60Hz). To get an idea of what is is and why this simple technology is beneficial, you can watch the following illustrative video:
Cryotherapy is a quick, 3 minute liquid nitrogen vapor bath in which you stand in a closed cylinder with your head popping out the top.
It gets very cold (~250℉ or 120℃), but is not painful and feels absolutely amazing once you exit the cylinder and start warming up. This is definitely the way to go over other approaches like painfully long and potentially dangerous ice baths.
Check out this introductory cryotherapy video by a CryoFit:
Low EMF - Clearlight Far Infrared Saunas (note: Clearlight Far Infrared Saunas eliminate EMF radiation by facing two electric heat panels facing each other to cancel out harmful EMF radiation).
If you’ve ever had a great massage (especially after periods of intense physical training), you don’t need me to tell you how great they can be for mental and physical relaxation or restoration.
Just do it! Find a great massage therapist near you and try to get a 60 to 120 minute massage every two weeks or so.
I’ve had great success using all of the above stress therapies and will be going into detail about the details and benefits of each one soon.
In an ideal world, I’d create a health spa providing people access to each one to help cultivate their inner Hu+(m+An)imal!
I’d love to hear your experiences with combating chronic stress in the comments below...especially passive strategies that feel great and don’t require any effort other than showing up!
Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital minimalist. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to cultivate a high-tech, hunter-gatherer lifestyle within our exceedingly domesticated world. When away from his tech, you can find him studying complex human movement through random play or practices like Aikido, AcroYoga and Barefoot Running.
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