In celebration of National Wellness Month, this blog post is a brief list of hacks, tools, tricks, tips, and techniques that I personally use to decrease stress and increase vitality in my life.  This is not a complete list that I’ve implemented, but here are several things that you may or may not have tried before:  
  1. Place an empty mason jar on your nightstand beside your bed.  When you feel anxious, overwhelmed about a situation in your life or have nervous energy at bedtime, think about those fears and mentally place them inside the jar and close the lid (may also write them on strips of paper). Think to yourself, “I’ve released all things that I have anxiety about inside this jar, they cannot affect me inside the jar; I will rest well and let them out of the jar outside tomorrow. For me, what this does is allow me to separate my mental stressors from my physical rest giving me a more relaxed, calmer sleep.
  1. If you’re like me, you probably have butterflies in your belly when you have to speak in public or in front of a group of people you deem important.  I’ve prepared dozens of public speaking notes and did all the research about a subject – I even read in front of a mirror with index cards until I was able to commit each index card to memory. It didn’t matter how much I practiced; I was always nervous before being called on to speak. My tip for you in this situation is to breathe inhaling through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth – then reverse in your mouth then release from your nose – do this a few times.  And the most important thing is to have a paper clip, rock, pen, whatever you can hold in your hand to apply pressure when you feel tingly or nervous.
  1. Invest in technology that can do things that you don’t want to do.  Whether you live in a rural or urban town, I’m sure everyone can agree there are things in life you’d rather not do. Thinking back on the cartoon, the Jetson’s, the world was introduced to virtual reality, video conferencing, microwave ovens, robots, and spaceships. Well, thinking about where we are now in the year 2022: Set up your RING security system if you don’t want to hire a security tech firm to install wires, cameras, and monitors.  Buy an electronic robot to mop and sweep your floor if you know you like clean floors and don’t have time to clean them. Invest in a secure online file sharing system that you have a level of confidence using like OneDrive or Dropbox cloud service.  Invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) ID so that your online data and searches are encrypted and confidential. I know everyone likes to thump their own fruits and vegetables, but it’s okay every now and then to let Amazon, Walmart, or other local retailers deliver goods to your home to avoid traffic, stress, and finding that perfect parking spot.
  1. Place a glass of water on your nightstand before bedtime.  Water has memories.  Your hopes and aspirations are inside the glass because no one would want to drink dirty water. The glass is clean.  Just like a bowl can only be clean on the inside, think of your bowl, being your vessel – your body.  Because you know the water is clean, the glass is clean, and your thoughts are pure, when you awake – no matter what, because water has memory – it is there to meet you and quench your thirst, break your fast and become your first breakfast.  Drinking the water as a first act is in concert with me thanking God for giving me life another day which is not given to everyone.  Waking with appreciation and introducing water to the body from the outside inward is an act of cleansing and lubricating organs in the body. This is a catalyst to being fluid mutable and transparent as water throughout the day.
  1. Get outdoors and connect with nature! I know during the summer month of August it’s hard to encourage folks to get outside when the temperature reaches triple digits. But with planning we can overcome many challenges.  Early mornings before sunrise and mid-evenings are excellent times to go outdoors to avoid the heat.  Place ice in plastic bags to bring with you along with a water bottle that was placed in the freezer or invest in a Yeti mug to keep things cold or hot for long periods.  Invest in a quality bike or good walking shoes that are comfortable for your body type.  Trying new routes and paths can be entertaining and increase endorphins in the brain and are able to produce new memories which allows the mind to process new information that releases us from processing and reprocessing our fears.
  1. Take breaks. When I played chess professionally, I could get stuck in a game for hours strategizing to win the game against my opponent.  What I realized is that even though we each had 2 hours of playtime totaling 4 hours, that most players throughout many years would not take time to take a walk, or stretch, or to use the restroom.  Almost like writer’s block, I would get so focused about my next move or anticipating my opponent’s next move that I didn’t give my brain a break – a chance to reset.  I learned that after a quick stretch or walk to the water fountain gave me an opportunity to not think so hard about solving the problem or finding the winning move. Most often, before I returned to my seat to continue playing, my mind would come up with the perfect move. I just had to take a break to allow my brain to process.
  1. When I worked in corporate America as well as when I worked for the government, I was expected to wear a certain style of clothing.  Most workspaces have a dress code. Sometimes, I would spend 30-45 minutes figuring out what I would be wearing that morning.  Yeah, I started laying out my clothes the day before, but that didn’t last longer than a few weeks before I fell back in the same rut.  Let’s face it, it’s stressful presenting your best self to the world everyday.  What I figured out is that if I purchase wrinkle-free clothing that is comfortable, breathable, and durable I’m more likely to wear it than clothing that is delicate and ornate.  Making conscious buys rather than impulse purchases will reward you over the long run.  When it’s about your life, quality ought to be better than quantity. Whether it’s jeans or patterned pants; polos or short-sleeves – pick your own uniform (if you’re not required to wear a particular one). 
  1. If you’ve ever tried to go to sleep and couldn’t. Try this: count from 20 back to 0.  But instead of just counting back – assign a pattern to each numeral like this, 20 (pink zebra pattern), 19 (blue dots), 18 (red stripes), 17 (green leaves), and so on.  If you are not asleep by the time you reach 3, go back to 20 and try to repeat the sequence: 20 (pink zebra pattern), 19 (blue dots), etc…I’ve never repeated the sequence twice before falling soundly to sleep.
I hope this blog serves you well. I am not a medical doctor or a psychiatrist, but other than the usual yoga, meditation, and eating right stuff, I wanted to provide you with practical inexpensive things you can try to reduce stress and increase vitality.  These things don’t require potions or pills, they are simple techniques that I learned that work for me – try them out and let me know if they work for you at [email protected]
Written By: Joshua Sams