Sunday, December 27, 2015

5 Ways to De-Stress and Calm Down:

1. Spend time with plants/in nature:

There's nothing like a true disconnect from the dull thrum of white-noise, and the robotic way it makes our thoughts cycle.

It used to be mindlessly checking the fridge, or surfing channel’s on the television that took up long blocks of our day and collected them under the moniker, ‘time wasted’. Nowadays, as a university student with an unhealthy addiction the the internet (and caffeine) I realise that I don’t come home from school, work or socialising to flop out on the couch and watch Huey’s Cooking Adventures, I just scroll through my phone, on various social media feeds forever, slowly watching my pile of unread books grow as I order more and still allow the only information entering my head to come via LCD screen.

‘I have a theory that everything that uses the internet becomes more shit over time,’ a friend once said to me. I think he was right because my mind certainly begins to follow the Palahniuk line if I spend too much time looking at memes and the poorly-sourced ‘information’ that gets shared to Facebook and Instagram.

The best way to get offline is to get outside. If you want snapshots to share later, take a real camera. Digital or disposable, polaroid, whatever. Just make sure you leave anything that can access the internet and it's obsessive, competitive culture at least fifteen minutes away. Don't freak out about this being 'unsafe' advice either, humans survived for millenia without Wi-Fi.

While you're out there take a lesson from the way trees and plants live: 

'Trees do not try to outrgrow the tree beside them. They simply grow in whatever direction will take them closer to the sun.' - Source Unknown.

2. Meditate:


I got a bunch of my friends on to using and the Calm app for guided meditation. Sometimes I lay in bed with it playing when I can't sleep. Sometimes I use it when my brain just feels too cluttered because I've spent too much time with others and my mind doesn't feel like my own. I really appreciate being re-connected with my own brain, and alone with it, rather than surrounded by a bunch of thoughts that relate to other people. There's something very valuable about clearing all that social clutter and excess of others opinions out. It's how I ground myself. Once I'm sufficiently chill I usually find that my writers block has disappeared and I can finally start work on one of my many backburner projects.

3. Draw/Colour in/Art Therapy:

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 Historically Van Gogh is the artist credited with developing part of what would eventually become colour theory, and later art-related therapy. The famously 'mad' painter had an intense obsession with the colour yellow, often associated with hope, happiness and calm. Recent research has suggested that drawing and colouring is the next-best alternative to meditation. I can totally see why! Whenever I get intensely into a painting or drawing project I find that it blocks out anything else that may have been on my mind. I get to disappear into what I'm working on.

4. Write:

source: Isabel Valentine

Reading and writing are my ultimate vices. Not only this but writing is one of the best ways I have ever found to calm myself. Writing is the place I have always channeled any anger I've ever felt toward the world at large. It's meditative, it's philosophic, and it helps me understand the depth of my thoughts and how they are connected to my personal beliefs, and why I end up feeling how I do about certain things. Whether I'm escaping the world by writing fiction, or turning my feelings into essays, poetry, scrabbling at half-connected strings...It's something I've never really been able to properly explain. But writing makes me feel real, and alive, and connected to myself, or my Eudaemonic godhead as Carl Jung might describe it.

5. Read:

Reading and writing have always been a form of meditation for me. Few things can clear the junk and clutter, and anxious, poisonous thoughts or useless but destructive mental patterns from my mind than fully concentrating and involving myself in another persons mind. Read a book, there's something different about reading a properly written book (whether you thumb old mildewed pages, or press > on your kindle) compared to scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, Tumblr or blog posts.

It's a whole other world!

- Neil Gaiman, author.