The last month or so for me has been, oh how do I say it…crazy. And I’m not going to lie, a lot of the craziness and stress has been self-induced. Through all of this, I’ve learned that a lot of my typical de-stressing activities were suddenly not doing the trick anymore. It has slowly trickled through to a lot of different aspects of my life and it sucks. At times, my typical upbeat self has felt anything but that. With typical methods not working, I have been searching for other means to de-stress.
What’s Going On?
First, I figured I would give some insight under the hood as to what has been going on. Remember, I said a lot of this has been self-induced. So please keep that in mind when reading through this. First, I have not exactly had a recently pleasant experience at work. Despite a recent promotion, I’m really growing tired with the day-to-day aspects of the job and there are some aspects that have driven me crazy. I’ve been trying to keep my work at the office when I leave, physically and mentally. But mentally disconnecting from a job in public accounting is much more difficult than advertised and I am not winning this battle. To compound on top of that, my dissatisfaction grows with each consecutive night sleeping in a hotel for work.
What is different now than recent years (or even recent months for that matter), is that my frustration with travel is not linear. X number of nights does not equate to a certain frustration level. Rather, I’ve found that even spending one night on the road has left me really frustrated. I’ve tried reducing trips from 4 nights per week to one or two. While that has helped in the short-term, I still find myself frustrated that I am away from home and most importantly, my wife. Traveling and the day-to-day frustrations have seemed to put me in a funk that can be difficult to snap out of. It freaking sucks.
Sure, all of us that share the same desire and journey towards financial freedom and early retirement. Make it through our day job and turn the night into side-hustling time. Get through 9-5, work your tail off at night-time, in order to shake the 9-5 job all together. Come on, I know you know what I’m talking about. In the past I would use the evenings to de-stress, read blogs, become motivated, side hustle, and snap out of the funk. It would work. I would leave each evening relaxed and excited that I have spent some quality, focused, and relaxing time talking to Lanny about our website, finding stocks to invest in, and interact with all of you. I always enjoy taking some time with a beer or a glass of tea reading articles and getting to learn about your stories. It has been one of my favorite, “post 5 o’clock”, activities.
We know by now that I purchased a house recently that required some TLC. Over the last month or so, that has taken up a significant portion of my evenings and weekends. My wife and a few family members spent over 12 hours each past weekend day together, working on the house. This is in-conjunction with my time over the last few weekends, including a few Fridays off from work. I have sunk a lot of time and money into this house and I know it will be worth it. However, right now, it is taking a huge chunk of time away. Again, I knew this going in and I am the reason why this is going on. I bought the house for goodness sake and I knew it would need the work. But it is starting to hit me just how expansive of a project this has been and how I haven’t had any time to relax and de-stress.
To add in another layer here, I don’t want to stop blogging during all of this. So in the few hours or the days that I have had away from my house or where I am not on the road, I have tried to “blitz” working on the blog. Pressing to get an article out or comment on blogs, often when I am stressed from work or trying to coordinate some housing projects for the weekend. This usual de-stressing activity has flipped at times and has caused some additional stress as I press to compensate for the time I have not been able to spend with all of you.
Some New Methods of Stress Reduction
Phew, thanks for listening to me there everyone. I figured some context may be helpful to understand the general premise of this article. I’m excited that I have found a few new activities that will help me out over the next month, until the madness ends. Interestingly, this list of de-stressing activities does not include a daily workout or reading more books (which is one of my goals in 2017). I’ve tried this in the past, and setting goals to hit the gym or have an intense workout has not gotten the job done for me and hasn’t held up in the long run. Reading isn’t included on this list either because most evenings I am too drained to focus on a book. Without those two activities, here are some of the activities I have been trying.
Activity #1 – Walks with My Wife – This may sound like a no-brainer, but my wife and I have taken several 30 minute to 1 hour walks together over the last month. In fact, we took one right before I wrote this article. We don’t typically have a set destination for our walks. We just kind of wander around and see where we end up. I love it. During our walks, we are talking about random things that happened during the day, conversations we had with others, and catching up on life. We also love observing the scenery, comment on each house, garden, or front porch that we pass to see what we can implement in our new house. One funny thing we do is walk past the same house each day and ask, ” Why this house”? Well, there is a two-foot tree stump in front of this house. Instead of cutting down the stump, the family places a massive potted flower or plant on top of the stump. It looks ridiculous and makes us crack up laughing every time we walk by it.
It is relaxing and often times her random comments make me laugh and relax. The fresh air and the exercise are also nice side benefits of taking our walks. This time on our walks help us clear our mind and drive our focus away from some of the other stress points in my life. I come back from the walk relaxed and excited to tackle the rest of the night. Again, I love it.
Activity #2 – Unplugging – Some of my favorite times of my evening are when my phone is charging in a different room and my laptop is closed. So much of my day is spent staring at a computer screen, taking phone calls, or whatever other stuff may happen, that it is nice just to step away from it all. This can happen on our walks or later that evening when we are home. But not feeling tied to my phone, not rushing to respond to the last comment on our blog, or instantly responding to the last reply we had on Twitter, has been nice and has allowed my wheels to slow down when needed. Other benefits have included fewer headaches, sleeping easier after time away from my screen rather than 30 minutes of staring at it, and better focus on whatever I am doing during that unplugged time-frame. This isn’t rocket science and I’m sure everyone knows that. But it is easy to lose sight of this during the constant madness of your day-to-day activity.
Activity #3 – Watch Music Videos – This one is one of my favorites when I cannot fall asleep at night, in some random hotel room, because my mind is racing (work or life induced). I’ll pull my phone over and watch a handful of music videos from my favorite artists. This includes old Led Zeppelin Shows, live performances by Queen, awesome drum solos by Rush, the madness of a live Red hot Chili Peppers performance, or one of my favorites, the old MTV Unplugged episode featuring Nirvana. Watching the music video, rather than just listening to the music, makes a huge difference for me because it forces my mind to focus on the video of a song that I really enjoy. This focus allows my mind to forget what was bothering me and helps me fall asleep. It isn’t conventional, but I have used it successfully many times over the last few months.
Activity #4 – Finding Laughter – What the heck does this one mean? One thing that I have always tried to do since I attended college is to try to find the humor in any situation. It could be the worst experience, but I am always going to try to make myself laugh. Recently, I’ve started expanding this via TV or a streaming service. I know this isn’t the most productive use of time. But when I’m feeling out of it, I have tried finding a comedy special on Netflix or a TV show that will make me laugh. Some nights I seek witty humor and some nights I seek slapstick humor. Getting myself to laugh always helps lift my mood. My wife and I have been watching a TV show over the last year or so-called, Impractical Jokers. To keep it short, it is about four high school friends that have each other perform or say ridiculous things on command to strangers. The tasks aren’t too vulgar nor are they violent. It is just some good old-fashioned humor of seeing how four friends can embarrass the others in public without any advance notice. I leave each episode laughing and we are often cracking up throughout the episode.
This will change once my housing projects are over. I know that and will soon have extra spare time on my hands. Here is what’s funny, I’ve noticed that these de-stressing activities do not have to end when this madness is over. I love the way I feel when my wife and I go on walks, I unplug, or take some time to myself. There is no reason that I cannot continue to do these activities on a regular basis and improve my day-to-day mental health. They are easy to do when I’m stressed, so they should be easier to do when I’m not, right?
What are some of your favorite de-stressing activities? What has worked or what has not worked for you in the past?