I cannot accurately recite how many times she beckoned for my attention, but the urgency of her tone revealed that it had been more than a few times over. As my mother-in-law called my name, I sat blankly staring out of a window, quietly lost in a turmoil of thought – muted to my surroundings. Suddenly, I was fully present again. I cannot accurately identify the specific catalyst that triggered my temporary, unresponsive state. However, if I dedicate enough thought to the matter, it most likely was a perfect culmination of stress related to marriage, fatherhood, health, and work. Responsibility. Obligation. Accountability. In other words, the daily strain of life.
And absent personal time for proper reflection and meditation, the mind sporadically pivots from one stressor to next, until you slowly begin to detach from your immediate environment – thus perhaps explaining my stupor at the time. My focus was scattered. A multitude of issues converging within my mind simultaneously. The stress would also manifest itself in other aspects of life. Sometimes, I could not derive happiness from events that would normally bring joy. My interpersonal skills would sometimes suffer with people close to me, as I would disconnect and shut individuals out. My drive and energy were nonexistent. While I am certainly not a therapist, I have formulated some thoughts and strategies to combat my stress. I detail a few points below. Nothing is a perfect solution, but it makes stress more manageable.
Stress Relief for the Gentleman
- Recognize, perhaps, there is an issue. I’m just stating if you are feeling out of sorts and stress is becoming overwhelming, it is time to enact measures to address the current adversities burdening your spirit. Don’t ignore what is troubling your mind and spirit.
- Recruit wise counsel, because sometimes having a good sounding board is the perfect tool to help deflect negative energy and guide you in a positive direction. A trusted friend, companion, or trained professionals are excellent options.
- Ground yourself in a positive space. Existing in a constant flux of irritation, anxiety, anger, and sadness is corrosive to your mental, physical, and emotional health. Your frame of mind should align with the well-known Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Perform an activity that is therapeutic. Personally, writing this entry is that therapy for me, as finding fellowship with other gentlemen experiencing the same struggle is calming and reassuring to me. For other individuals, it could an athletic activity. It could be immersing yourself in your favorite arts & crafts, music, photography, gardening, etc. The selected exercise(s) that can soothe and ease your spirit – do it!
- Laugh. No really – laugh. Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins – hormones released within the body that grants a sense of euphoria. There’s nothing like a classic episode of Sanford & Son or Martin to get those endorphins flowing.
- Beware of vices that only serve to satiate your carnal spirit. Embarking down this rabbit hole of excess can be self-destructive, and while temporarily pleasing, it is ineffective addressing the underlying source of your stress and the management thereof.
- Get adequate sleep. Don’t deprive yourself of much-needed rest.
- A gentleman can employ some small, simple tools that bring a touch of happiness or calm. There isn’t a morning or night that I fail to look at pictures of my children on my cell phone. Sometimes I just sit in darkness and listen to the sound of thunderstorms on my Google mini (it reminds me of sitting on the porch with my late grandmother during rainstorms). I like pops of color and pleasant scents, therefore, I revamped my whole workspace (pictured above) with flowers, colored notepads, and potpourri. Where do you extract small measures of joy?