Five Tips to De-Stress in Stressful Times

In our time it is easy to get distracted and lose sight of he facts. Fear mongers on both sides of every issue spin every minutia possible into something to support their claims. As a self-defense instructor it is bad for business for me to openly state that you are safer than you think. There are threats out there, deadly threats that you will be defeated by if you refuse to acknowledge their existence and end up facing them. But most of you will never face them.

I want to take a moment here and let you know that there are five simple steps you can start using today to lower your stress levels and start to see things more clearly. No voodoo, no tin hats, just simple steps that only require the initiative on your part to begin.

1. Do not get your news from social media or any other single source.

If your social media newsfeed is anything like mine, you see posts from people on both sides of any issue claiming doom and gloom if the other side wins.

Give yourself a break from that.

If you get all of your news from a single source, you are going to be subject to their spin. No matter the source, they have an agenda and they will use emotional manipulation to keep you coming back.

The internet news sites do the same thing. Cable channels as well. Whether you are looking to Fox News or MSNBC, you will be subjected to their take on the issue. Use a mix of sources and learn to see the facts and identify immediately when you are being emotionally strung along.

2. Look for the good.

I don’t buy into the garbage that is heaped on me that all people who liberal or conservative are evil. I have close friends of both political viewpoints. I love guns, and some of my friends are terrified of them. I love bacon, and some of my friends have never had it due to religious reasons. I don’t tell them how to live because their views and opinions and way of life, as Thomas Jefferson said, “Neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”. If you look at your friends you will see that a person can disagree with you and still be a good person. Instead of focusing on the differences, look to the good qualities that your friends have. You just might be able to tone down the angry rhetoric.

3. Build confidence through training.

If there is something you are afraid of; terrorists, muggers – whatever, find training to make yourself strong enough to stop being afraid. Addressing fears, facing them, is the only method to overcome them. Then if it comes to a point where what they are doing picks your pocket or breaks your leg, you will have the tools to stop them. Since this is not a commercial, I will move ahead.

4. Stay aware.

In my daily commute, at every stoplight I find myself surrounded by other drivers who cannot seem to stop staring at their own crotch.

In their own brand of  group cleverness, they think that no one knows they are looking at their phones.

But when we are glued to the tiny screen on our phone, there is a whole world going on around us of which we are totally unaware.

Awareness is more than seeing the bad guy in the shadows. It is also seeing the elderly woman smiling as she makes her way into the store. It is noticing the good and the beautiful and the right, as well as the bad, and the ugly and the horrible.

There is so much more out there than what we see on our phone screen. Can you really enjoy an event when you force yourself to view it through your phone? Or would it not be better to see it as it is, as it happens?

5. Find time daily to center.

Some people call it meditation. Others call it prayer. Still others call it centering. I don’t really care what you call it. Do it. Every day.

Take some time to shut off the chatter inside your skull, and just be at peace.

We spend so much time thinking of another day, or year, or point in life where we will be happy. We stress ourselves to no end over what could go wrong before we get to this mysterious there and when we do get there, if we are lucky enough to live that long, we feel a tremendous let-down, because we missed the entire journey.

In many parts of my Country, you will never even meet a criminal, much less a terrorist. In the U.S., our criminal class tend to hurt each other almost exclusively. If we focus only on the criminals or the terrorists, we lose a big chunk of our life worrying over a threat that will, for most of us, never materialize.

In short, be prepared, yes! But live your life. There is no do-over.