Have you tried... finding your calm?
It's really important
Things are getting worse. There’s no way around it. You can go outside and see trash and ugliness where it was never present before. People seem tuned up, irritable, big bags under their eyes. There are stressors everywhere, from loud music to the smell of weed to just plain nastiness from passers-by. It’s never been harder, and therefore never been more important, for you to just chill out.
Stress affects you body in a number of ways. It causes your muscles to tense up, greatly increasing the risk of injury from physical activity. You blood pressure spikes along with your heart rate. Your digestion becomes seriously impeded. It literally gets harder to think, your response time is slowed and it’s tough to focus. You can’t sleep. Your mind goes in weird directions. Your hair starts to fall out. You skin gets dry and shitty. You hunch over, people look at you like you’re a freak—you are one.
From a political perspective, stress is dangerous at the civilizational level. American Expeditionary Force intelligence officer Montgomery Schuyler noted in his reports on the Russian Civil War that the big obstacle to resistance to the Bolsheviks was that the Russian people were “so thoroughly disorganized and lifeless as a result of the last three years, that they are unable even to think for themselves far less to govern themselves.” Stressed out people are easy to manipulate. They can’t view their circumstances objectively. They feel helpless and act helpless, or they glom on to anything that promises to end their unhappiness, however poorly thought-out and self-destructive that thing may be.
This is a vicious cycle. As you become more and more stressed, you ability to manage stress in a healthy way declines. It really important that you make an active and conscious effort to remove stressors from your life as soon as you notice a problem. If not for yourself, do it for the people around you because they can definitely notice.
A while ago I was probably at the lowest point I’d been at in years. A long-running injury had flared up and it hurt to move normally. I was irritable, bitter, and in pretty constant pain. It felt like I was going crazy. My Chess.com score, which has always tracked pretty closely with my mental state, absolutely crated. But with a little bit of focus, the bad times ended, as they always do.
If you’re in a bad spot or just don’t have as much energy as you used to, here are some easy steps you can take to unload your stress and improve your life immeasurably:
Get more sleep. Sleep is the most important thing you do every day. Your body needs sleep in order to keep itself in good order. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are worse in every way. Oftentimes, when people have sleep problems, they approach solutions with passivity. “Oh, that’s a great idea, I’ll do that when the [sleep aid product] I ordered of Amazon arrives.” This is not going to cut it. Fixing the problem requires real lifestyle changes that take time. You need start immediately. I’ve written a short guide to sleep aids here.
Fix your diet. There’s been an enormous amount on this written already by people who actually know what they’re talking about, so I won’t belabor this, but eating clean is one of the easiest and cheapest changes you can make that improves your life in every way. The Ray Peat carrot salad (not a meme) supposedly has calming effects, it’s worth trying out.
Get regular exercise. Again, I don’t claim to some fitness expert, but consistent exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your stress and improve every other aspect of your life. You don’t need a gym membership or a lot of time to do this, though those both help a lot. There is literally no excuse not to do this today. There are thousands of routines just seconds away online. Make the time.
Get persistent physical issues addressed by a specialist immediately. The biggest problem with my injury was that it wasn’t debilitating. I’d work out, feel bad, get some rest, recover a little bit, and then power through it again. Over a year or so what had been a minor injury had become a major one. When I finally started seeing a chiropractor/sports medicine specialist, he started to clear up my issues within the month. I wish I had done it more than a year prior when I first noticed the problem. It might take months or even years to fully recover but getting someone who’s actually a specialist to address your issues is critical. Usually the reason something isn’t healing is that it can’t heal without some kind of outside intervention. If you have persistent pain, try Myofascial Release.
Interrupt negative feedback loops. It easy to get caught in cycles of despair, especially today. You see the news, it’s something bad. You go outside, something pisses you off. You talk with your online friends, and they’re discussing the latest outrage. This leads to all sorts of weird behavior: power fantasies, copes, and a general sense of frustration. Above all else, you should strive to cultivate a positive worldview. Find something you love IRL and pursue it. People today are often consumed by negativity. It’s easy to do this with the curated view available online. You can see their neuroplasticity dropping and pettiness and anger takes the wheel. Some might argue that conservatives are attempting to build a negative culture. This might feel cathartic initially, but long term it means bad things. Find the sunny side of life, I promise it’s out there.
Please, if you’re not happy with your life, stop what you’re doing and address it right now. There is no need for you (or the people around you) to suffer. You have to make sure you’re always pointed towards the future. You have to have a future! Most of these changes require no money and only a little bit of time. It is more than worth it. Life is so sweet.
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